Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cultural Tourism

I had a job for a few years where I traveled the country and spent an inordinate amount of time in hotels. One of my favorite pastimes was checking out the Chamber of Commerce and tourism brochures to see how a particular place decided to present itself to the world. You can learn a lot about a city by how a marketing team chooses to sell it. You can also see how the official tourism material begins to impact the way tourists themselves identify with the locale. There have been studies on how tourism images effect economic and social perceptions. People begin to reconstruct the very photos they see, consciously or unconsciously framing their own shots to mimic those in travel books and tour guides. At times, it truncates the true exploration of the city and perpetuates the constructed image.

I'm researching an article for a magazine and I need to interview someone from Denmark this week. Online research led me to the Visit Denmark homepage (and to daydream that I was being funded to conduct this interview in person not via Skype). I couldn't help clicking on the "photos" section. The images they use to present the country to potential visitors are a curious mix. Among them you have...


Rose Hips:

Wooden monkeys in tree:

Wooden soldiers:


Modern furniture:

Making out:

I still want to visit, but I wouldn't replicate a staged shot of toy monkeys in trees. That chair photo, however...well, maybe.