So What???? !!!!.
What has this got to do with me and Tourism Management?
Q1. We now have a definition of ‘Culture’. Fine. But when we add ‘Inter-‘ to it,
what does it mean?
ANS. Between two or more things we have defined as being: ‘Culture’. It is an
engagement between two or more sets of subscribers to patters of being and doing
which are materially different. This engagement could be by means of an external
link: a bridge, between the two….a person moving from one to the other
Or. … by means of a crossover, a merging of the cultures themselves or of
elements of them:-
CULTURE A CULTURE
A/B or A+B
Q2. Think of all the cultures and sub cultures to which you subscribe or are
considered to be part of and draw a diagram like this…keep adding the shapes until
you get a star!:
My own cultural affiliations / subscriptions include:
• Western / Northern European in outlook
• Ex Pat in France…
• A ‘40-something’ / Baby Boomer
• Parent / chauffeur
• Bruebach / Alsacian villager (and proud of it!)
• ‘Middle class’
• Creative (guitarist / poet / writer)
• Left of Centre politics
Yours might include:
• Ethnic / regional origin…
• Challenging to the ‘old order’ (my generation)
1. Some of these can be at odds with each other! My neighbour considers himself
Alsacian FIRST (and almost ONLY) and then French.
2. Our allegiance to our various subscriptions to cultures varies in its strength and
may change or even expire over time with events and with age. (Eg you may
listen to Ramstein now and consider yourself a metal-head, heavy rocker, but at
age 40 plus you (probably!) won’t find yourself feeling like that or playing much
of that type of music)
3. Culture is perceived: it is what people believe it to be (whether it is so in fact or
not). In subscribing to a particular culture you must appreciate that those external
to this (sub) culture may not perceive it like you do: for those outside it can be
perceived as potentially threatening or competitive. (What I believe ‘being
English’ is after 40 odd years is not likely to be close to your perception of it! )
4. One belongs to some cultures and sub cultures by birth and others by
personal subscription / affiliation. One can ‘resign’ from some, but not from
others. You can move out of a cultural context (like moving from France to work
in England), but a cultural ‘label’ may still be ‘stuck’ on you and you may find
people reacting to it more or indeed less than you think. (Nationality, sexuality,
religion, colour etc)
5. Much of culture is invisible to the outsider.... an iceberg below the waterline:-
Just TWO of the many ‘Cultural Icebergs’ representations available online - and
even then, they see it differently…. But then they would: we perceive things with
a cultural ‘tint’
But why does Culture matter in Tourism?
1. Tourism is a global industry. One could easily envisage:
• A Dutch customer
• Buys off a French travel agents website (the site being designed by a Chinese,
hosted on an Indian server)
• A product which is in fact that of a subsidiary of an English Tour Operator
• Contracting to a Spanish airline
• For a holiday in Portugal
• At a hotel owned by an American Corporation.
• The Dutch holiday maker (insured by a Belgian Insurance company)
• Is injured in the hotel swimming pool (which is managed on a sub-contract by
a Portugese company which employs Polish lifeguards)
As you can see, the very nature of Tourism: moving people from one well known
cultural context to a lesser or even unknown cultural context has enough potential
problems, but when you add in now the concept of global trading via the internet and
the outsourcing of services and the traditional range of intermediaries involved in the
Tourism System, there is a significant opportunity for cultural confusion,
miscalculation and conflict.
As you can see this can apply on the supply side: where the product/service is being
put together and international / inter-cultural communication and teamwork has to go
on to quality assure the product,
on the demand side where the consumer can encounter any number of services
provided within any number of different cultural contexts.
2. Culture is a critical and valuable means of product differentiation.
• All nations have heritage monuments (churches, mosques, cathedrals, castles,
• All have cultural monuments (Theatres, Ballet, Opera etc)
• All have some element of natural environment (mountains, lakes, forests etc)
OK, the New Forest in England is not the same as the Taiga and the Hermitage
Palace is not the Hand-painted Wallpaper Museum in Rixheim.... but generally
countries have comparable ‘assets’ in these areas.
With culture, however, that is NOT the case at all. A visitor ‘feels’ the difference in
French culture when he is here and there is nothing like it! That means for the
Marketing Function there is a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) that no-one else has,
which they can sell and manipulate at will. It is ‘intangible’ and can be traded upon
and built up. It enables us to distinguish destinations!
I wonder: Alsace may promote its heritage and cultural monuments and patrimoine,
but does it actually sell its culture as something distinctive.... (beyond Hansi images,