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Western travellers in Asia: A mobile subculture in search of a home

Westerhausen, Klaus (1997) Western travellers in Asia: A mobile subculture in search of a home. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

Drifter-style tourism in Asia has become a sanitised and institutionalised tourism alternative. Similar to its counterparts on other continents, it now represents a curious mix of rebellion and conformity, rite of passage and a way of life. Over the last thirty years it has developed its own tourism myth and spawned a mobile subculture of Western travellers.

This travelling subculture seeks experiences and insights into other cultures beyond the reach of conventional mass tourism and perpetuates the myth of the traveller as an intrepid explorer. As it has evolved, the subculture has begun to appeal to a far wider cross-section of Western society than ever before and has become a mass phenomenon itself. Contrary to mass tourism, it offers not a holiday but an experiential physical and psychological journey for those inclined to go. Its effect on the traveller is of an existential rather than transitory nature and has the potential to significantly alter the future course of an individual's life. With rapidly increasing numbers. the subculture now represents a viable market in its own right. one that fits in nicely with a balanced tourism product.

However, development of this tourism alternative is continuously being undermined by the cannibalisation of its destination sites by other tourism sectors. The existence of a flourishing subcultural centre frequently invites a "hostile take-over" of local tourism structures by outside operators and competing tourism sectors. The thesis will argue that Western travellers now represent an institutionalised alternative to mass tourism and, as such, comprise a significant part of the international tourism market. It will further assert that for a given destination to achieve a balanced tourism product and to maximise economic returns, the ongoing cannibalisation of subcultural destinations by other tourism sectors is both unnecessary and undesirable.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: repository@murdoch.edu.au. Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Macbeth, Jim
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/50786
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