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Contested tourists' border-crossing experiences

Contested tourists' border-crossing experiences

Zare, Samira and Ye, Isabella Qing ORCID: 0000-0002-4835-0881 (2023) Contested tourists' border-crossing experiences. Annals of Tourism Research, 100:103571. ISSN 0160-7383 (doi:

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Airports as borders signify critical thresholds of tourism experiences – arrival and departure. They are also highly contested spaces that produce vastly different and controversial encounters. Tourists legally entering destination airports have expectations of being treated equally until the first segregating lines for home and foreign passports. Here, various levels of mobility rights are bestowed on different passport holders, which requires intersectional scrutiny (Adey, 2017). The inequality in mobility rights derives from an intersection of factors, including identities, social contexts, and power relations (Mooney, 2018). The hierarchy of passports intersects with appearance, gender, religion, disability/ability, and class, producing unequal treatment at borders (Torabian & Mair, 2022). When entering the West, non-Western tourists become the target of additional questioning, checks, and micro-aggressions despite carrying correct travel documents. These tourists endure stress, overt or covert biases, and a myriad of negative emotions, such as humiliation and intimidation (Villegas, 2015). The current research note presents a conceptual discussion concerning tourists' experiences at airport borders. This is an issue largely under-examined in tourism studies, both conceptually and empirically, due to the following reasons. First, tourism research has long been dominated by Eurocentric ideologies and institutions (Ateljevic, Morgan, & Pritchard, 2007). Theories have predominantly been produced and reinforced by scholars from the West (Wijesinghe, Mura & Culala, 2019), who benefit from greater global mobility by being on the higher end of the hierarchy of passports. Such positionality renders border hostility and inequality of mobility rights invisible to them (Ateljević, 2014; Wijesinghe et al., 2019). Second, the airport border is an assemblage of national security, technological surveillance, and economic interests from both public and private sectors (Mohl, 2019). The interplay of "contradictory flows and desires" (Mohl, 2019, p3) leads to stress and tension. Thus, conducting research at airports presents methodological challenges, such as limited access due to security, compromised data quality from fatigued travellers, and disruption to movements. Third, since the media often over-glamorizes tourism experiences (Bandyopadhyay, 2011), travellers often neglect the discriminative encounters and comply with extensive questioning to gain quick entry, as negativity contradicts the pleasure and fantasies tourism marketing promises. This research attends to the recent call for the decolonization of tourism scholarship, especially the Anglo-Western-centric knowledge, and surfaces the under-represented voices (Yang & Ong, 2020; Chambers & Buzinde, 2015). Neo-colonial domination goes beyond the colonizer's political and economic dominance over colonized (Cywiński, 2015). Tourism still inherits colonial mindsets and practices for the privileged (McCabe & Diekmann, 2015). This study focuses on the unequal mobility rights for tourists from different regions (Torabian & Mair, 2022), a prime yet understudied example of such a colonial mindset.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: airport border-crossing; immigration encounters; tourist experiences; othering; ethics; liminality
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Business
Faculty of Business > Department of Marketing, Events & Tourism
Faculty of Business > Tourism Research Centre
Last Modified: 04 May 2023 07:43

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