Mass tourism could only have been developed with the improvements in technology, allowing the transport of large numbers of people in a short space of time to places of leisure interest, so that greater numbers of people could begin to enjoy the benefits of leisure time. Mass tourism increased the demand for electrical power, water, consumer products, services and facilities. Tourism is one of the largest industries in the UK and resulted in mass tourism in England during the second half of the 19th Century. Tourist ideology was typical seaside resorts such as Blackpool, Brighton and Rhyl. Donkey rides on the beach, ice creams and fish and chips became highly attractive for British tourists on weekends.
We can learn a lot about mass tourism by looking how destinations are marketed. As well as being actual places, tourist destinations are products that are ‘constructed’ as mental images to appeal to customers. Tourism operators construct images based on the physical appearance of the destination and also what they think the consumers want. A case study Benidorm illustrates the nature of the images produced for mass tourism.
Flora Botsford (2001) wrote an interesting article about Benidorm’s marketing image. It was in the year 1953 that Benidorm was transformed from a tiny fishing village into a successful tourist resort. She wrote about Benidorm that ‘it had a sun, it had a beach, it had a sea; what it didn’t have was visitors.’ The mayor of Benidorm was aware that the ‘dark and depressing’ countries in North Europe have long winters and unreliable summers and so this was ‘an ideal topic for a Big Sell.’ Even today we still have the same issue regarding weather in Britain and it can be mentioned the noticeable increase in winter holidays to the Canaries and North Africa.
Chapman and Speake (2010) studied the international images emanating from Malta’s tourism authorities are noticed they are of a ‘tourism product typified by quality accommodation, attractive aesthetics, urban environment and design and the proximity of cultural attractions.’ Although other destinations in Europe have had success being tourist destination regions, not everywhere has had the same influx. Chapman and Speake (2010) noted that ‘to change the perceptions of Malta as a traditional mass-tourism resort, it will be hard to achieve as it needs to meet upmarket expectations and the right image needs to be portrayed.’ As a tourist, Malta isn’t too appealing and I know very little about the Island in what it has to offer in comparison with Greece and Cyprus or the Balerics.
While tourism can be a powerful positive force for change in poor countries, it can also be damaging for the environment and culture. An increase in mass tourism that is not under control can destroy areas of natural beauty. Benidorm is now one of the most popular destinations with tourists and has clearly been affected by mass tourism. At one time this was a small fishing village with few bars and restaurants and has now become the New York of Spain – a concrete jungle. All over the world coral reefs, polluted beaches and the decay of wildlife habitus has occurred in the making of roads and hotels. However, Weaver (1991) analysed tourism in Dominica, which revealed a differing tourism industry that provides an alternative to the conventional varieties of mass tourism. Although this is a solution for Dominica, what about the rest of the world that’s being affected?
Chapman, A and Speake, J. (2010) Regeneration in a Mass Tourism Resort: The Changing Fortunes of Bugibba, Malta. Tourism Management. Available Online 1st May 2010.
Botsford, F. (2002) Benidorm Climbs Ever Upwards. BBC News, 8th June 2002.
Weaver, D.B. (1991) Alternative to Mass Tourism in Dominica. Annals of Tourism Research, Vol 18(3):414-432.