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Changecations - Journeys into the Soul

Changecations - Journeys into the Soul
Author: Dorota Popowicz
2 Commentries

Many tourists are likely to adopt a vacation mentality and engage in behaviours that are vastly different from their behaviour in their home environment (Romero-Daza & Freidus, 2008). This change in behaviour aroused the attention of anthropologists and gained a scientific definition of liminality (from the Latin līmen, a threshold; Oxford English Dictionary, 1989). The concept of liminality was first introduced by Charles-Arnold Kurr van Gennep (1909) to describe the time in which people are on the threshold of entering a new phase in their life. Van Gennep (1909) claimed that this ritual consists of three phases: a pre-liminal phrase (separation), a liminal phase (transition), and a post-liminal phase (re-integration). The typical examples of liminal state include teen age - transition from childhood to adulthood. Victor Turner (1974) has noticed that at the stage of liminality, individuals do not belong to the society of which they previously were a part and they are not yet re-incorporated into new society and described them as betwixt and between, ambiguous and indeterminate. The transition is meant to enable people to experience liminal state, lose and then recreate their identity.

Tourism Perspective

Every day life does not seem to satisfy self-actualisation needs of individuals creating a gap between the real-self and the ideal-self. In quest of authenticity tourists could fill the gap and achieve self-actualisation through differentiated kinds of vacations which emphasise unique personal experiences. For Lewis & Bridger (2001) travelling is a quest for authenticity which lies at the soul of the tourists and they need to make themselves as they want to be. While travelling, a tourist has to find himself and then live in accordance with this self. Decisions that are made on holiday are put into action once home, and in consequence, shape people's future. In this sense, vacations become changecations (Kuoni, 2010). According to Bauer & McKercher (2003), the act of travelling could be applied to the three symbolic stages of liminal process whereby tourists leaves familiar environment (separation), travels to a tourist destination (liminality) and returns to the familiar place (re-integration).


Volunteers are motivated by genuine altruism and the idea that they can change the lives of other powerless communities. They are known to move across social and cultural borders, into communities and neighbourhoods that they may normally avoid. Therefore volunteering activity purely illustrates the pioneering concept of unstructured communities i.e. communitas, first introduced by Turner in 1974, where all members are equal with social structure based on common humanity and equality rather than recognized hierarchy.
The idea of personal transformation is a key issue supported by Watts (2002). He argues that a volunteers' own personal development is crucial to a successful volunteering contribution. McIntosh & Prentice (1999) believe that tourists can experience the creation and reaffirmation of identity by using insights gathered about a different culture to understand their own place in time and space. Fulfilment of emotional needs and psychological change gained from volunteering strongly relates to the concept of liminality. It can initiate changes that have an influence on volunteers' personalities, future careers and private lives.

Medical Tourism

According to DeGrazia (2005), every self-creation project that is autonomous and honest in the same way is authentic. Therefore, undergoing plastic surgeries is considered a liminal experience, aimed at the creation of one's true-self. Travelling to undertake a cosmetic surgery is becoming increasingly popular, consequently intensifying the connection of medicine and tourism. Medical tourism is simply the outsourcing of medical services, primarily expensive surgeries to low cost countries. The surgery, resulting in physical change, symbolically strengthens gender identification, self esteem and the link between ones psychological and physical features. Woodman (2008) believes that the actual act of travelling to undertake medical treatment could be a life-changing experience, citing a medical traveller: "I brought back far more from this trip than a new set of teeth..."

Sex Tourism

Wagner (1977) notices that while on holiday, norms of sexual conduct are abandoned and a spontaneous camaraderie develops among the participants. Tourism plays an indirect role in facilitating liminal environment away from the constraints of home, providing increased opportunities for sex and possible sexual partners. Female sex tourists in Costa Rica challenge and redefine the traditional gender roles imposed by their cultures with the attempt to assert a new identity and expand their gender power in realms previously reserved for men only. As a consequence, the region has a growing number of gringueros - local men who actively seek involvement with foreign women (Cabezas, 2004). Women holidaymakers, who seek holiday romance, often fall outside Western body shapes ideals. They may be regarded as more sexy when they travel to other countries and receive more attention. Consequently, while on holiday those women change their perception about themselves, feel more attractive and become more receptive to sexual opportunities.


A critical discussion has shown the persuasive connection of liminality and tourism studies. Holiday choices, put in the context of the busy lives people now seem to lead, has shown the desire of change and reappraisal. Holidays had been shown to provide a catalyst for change. High extent of liminality in contemporary holiday alternatives is evident.


Bauer, T.G. & McKercher, B. (2003) Sex and tourism: journeys of romance, love and lust. Binghamton: The Haworth Hospitality Press. pp: 10-13.

Turner, V. (1974) Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Pres.

van Gennep, A. (1909) The Rites of Passage. London: Routledge.
Authentic Sex Tourism? : Lost in an image, in a dream (Britney Spears)
Author: Sophia Das
Above the author has clearly identified different aspects of the emerging tourism sectors whereby, it shows that people on a continuous base are on a hunt for authentic experience in which sometimes it can either be developed (staged) or it is a real 'thing'. It is also been described by MacCannell (1976, 1989) that via tourism people search for reality and authenticity that may be found in a different culture and/or historic period of time (in Yang and Wall, 2009). In regards to the tourists, each individual has different opinions and morals, as to how one wants to view life and its phenomenon. So it brings to one question whether or not a tourist gets to an authentic experience from its host? Sex tourism will be the scope of this commentary as it is one of the most criticised topics and have received a very negative image in front of the media that it is actually demoralising. Indeed it is but there are people who take advantage of this type of industry and suppress the actual feelings and opt for a strategic flirting technique to lure their potential clients both men and women.

Hoschild (1983) explained about 'emotional labour' in which one requires to suppress feelings to be able to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others (Deshotels and Forsyth, 2006). By closely analysing sex tourism's positive sides, it has been concluded that sex tourism brings a heavy amount of money in the developing nations i.e. Thailand (Singh and Hart, 2007). Therefore, it is highly valued as it inputs in the local economy, brings foreign aid and people that are actively involved in the industry are portraying staged authenticity. Staged authenticity is used for such purposes especially when suppliers recreates and/or in sex tourism's case, portray a false image of liking clients and make them feel sexy. This is putting the culture (including themselves/body) on sale as described by MacCannell (1973) and is also known as a search for authentic social relations and sociability (in Yang and Wall, 2009).

Henceforth, this part of theory suggests that by putting culture and social status at stake for this risky business is all part of stage authenticity because sex workers are not actually providing the sex tourists with real feelings, it is all by inducing the feelings/expression and then satisfying the clients for which they get paid for. In terms of sex tourists, men had more dominion but now women has also stepped into this game and travelling to afar destinations for sex and romance holidays and for obvious reasons it edits the social status and it is more clear that there is nothing major that men can do and women cannot. In conclusion, once the holiday begins, for any sex tourist (men and women) it is a trance in which that short adventurous life commence because sex workers perform their best to make them believe that they are being served in a special way and are being provided for; as Britney Spears has said, 'lost in an image, in a dream' (Meyers, 2009).

Referce List
Deshotels, T. and Forsyth C.J. (2006) Strategic flirting and the emotional tab of exotic dancing. Deviant Behaviour, 27, pp. 223-241.

Meyers, E. (2009) "Can you handle my truth?" : Authenticy and the Celebrity Star Image. The Journal of Popular Culture, 42(5), pp. 890- 907.

Singh, J.P. and Hart, S.A. (2007) Sex Workers and Cultural Policy: Mapping the Issues and Actors in Thailand. Review of Policy Research, 24(2), pp. 155-173.

Yang, L. and Wall, G. (2009) Authenticity in ethnic tourism: domestic tourists' perspectives. Current Issues in Tourism, 12(3), pp. 235-254.
Lets take a Break: Excitement or Culture Shock
Author: Jo-Anne Hewitt
Although this subject is not related to my commentary, I decided to research this subject as I found this paper both refreshing and interesting in the way it analyses various niche tourism activities that links well with the subject of liminality. This commentary gave the reader an insight into behavioural patterns regarding different tourism products. However, the author's commentary was positive in nature regarding the experiences such as volunteering, medical and sex tourism. It would have been more lucid if a counterbalance with some arguments referring to the negative side of liminality in the view of tourist activities. It is very true that the author has highlighted the way an experience can enhance the tourist and give a 'feel good' factor however the counterbalance of negative arguments would of given this commentary more depth and insight. Also there are various risk factors associated with all these activities that could have been highlighted.

A relevant statement made by various authors that is appropriate of the above negative aspect is that commodification has changed tourism experiences, that some of the activities that tourists engage in the search for an authentic experience "...can be challenging and dangerous to that of safety and comfort, to that of ''gaze'' but also embodiment beyond individual's onsite experience" (Trauer, 2006).

Another comment that I thought was relevant to the commentary is made by Schulze (1993 in Trauer, 2006) referring to tourism being no long tied to present continuity but is still instilled with physical and emotional sensations and that images are constantly interpreted and therefore perceive authenticity of place and action. The modern day tourist is aware of the experience that is going to be consumed however due to positive perceptions this could be very different when experiencing it firsthand.

The theory of intercultural adaption and psychology of control can be applied to volunteer tourism. It is an interesting model that applies the initial interaction at a destination where the tourist is exposed to the local community and examines the cultural difference at international destinations (Loker 1993, Riley 1988, Scheyvens 2002). Another aspect that was analysed by Hottola, (2004) was that people involved in this type of tourism, experienced neither shock nor depression at the initial stage but the emotion of stress and confusion whilst learning to cope with their new environment or facing difficulties. I thought this model was interesting and could be adapted to volunteer tourism as evidence from this article referred to backpackers.

To conclude, in specialist tourism there are various negative factors associated with liminality and the tourist. It has been discussed in this summary, aspects of commodification that has changed tourist experiences and that some activities in niche tourism products can have some element of risk. Also a theory of inter-adaption has briefly been applied where the tourist involved can be subject to cultural shock and therefore unable to contend with the negative emotions that have to be dealt with in a foreign destination. The author of the commentary has analysed the positive elements of changecation but with all human emotion and behaviour traits it is unfortunate that there are negative impacts as well.

Reference List

Hottola, P. (2004) Culture Confusion: Intercultural Adaptation in Tourism. Annals of Tourism Research. 31(2), pp. 447-466

Loker, L. (1993) The Backpacker Phenomenon II: More Answers to Further Questions. Townsville: James Cook University Press.

Riley, P. (1988) Road Culture of International Long-term Budget Travellers. Annals of Tourism Research. Vol. 15, pp. 313-328.

Scheyvens, R. (2002) Backpacker Tourism and Third World Development. Annals of Tourism Research. Vol. 29, pp. 144-164.

Trauer. B. (2006) Conceptualizing special interest tourism—frameworks for analysis. Tourism Management. Vol. 27, pp. 183-200.