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Chaos and Order: Tourism and the Media in Global Crises

Maguire, David (2012) Chaos and Order: Tourism and the Media in Global Crises. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The chronicle of crises is added to regularly as major natural disasters and man-made conflicts hit populations from the wealthy West to the poorest quarters of the world's most remote regions. The resulting disruption generates fear and panic with repercussions that have far-reaching implications for everyday life and the modern systems that support it. Within these crises, tourism is a major casualty and its plight is exacerbated by the vector of media coverage of the event. This thesis studies the crisis relationship between tourism and media when news coverage is at its peak and holiday regions and business operators lose control over their immediate destiny.

The research analyses through four case studies significant disasters that were of such magnitude that their impact was global: the UK‘s foot and mouth disease outbreak of 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States in September 2001, the Bali bombings in 2002 and the SARS contagion of 2003. Each disaster dominated the world‘s media from the outset and had far-reaching implications for global tourism systems. They are assessed within the dual industry context of media and tourism using qualitative analysis methods including ethnographic inquiry, media content analysis and case study analysis. An underpinning supplementary series of four vignettes outlines a contextual range of media and tourism operating activities, starting with a study of "normal" news coverage and ending with an ethnographic study of a newsroom during a developing crisis.

While there has been much study of crisis management in tourism, and many models proposed, this research identifies stages in the assessed crises that conform to the principles of Chaos Theory. That is, when the intensity of a crisis is such that the contextual system of known order is destroyed. By comparing media and tourism actions during the case studies against Chaos Theory principals, a defining theoretical adjunct is provided to the findings.

The research finds that the media is a constant force of stability in the non-linear dynamics of chaos unleashed by the case study disasters. The findings are used to develop a chaos-themed Protocol of Media Response for Tourism from which industry can develop strategies for earlier recovery from crisis, including acting within the chaotic environment to enhance post-crisis recovery prospects.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
Supervisor(s): Macbeth, Jim and Phillips, Gail
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