Tourism is relevant to many theoretical and real-world issues in anthropology. The major themes anthropologists have covered in the study of tourism may be divided conceptually into two halves: One half seeks to understand the origins of tourism, and the other reveals tourism's impacts. Even when taken together, these two approaches seem to produce only a partial analysis of tourism. The problem is that most studies aimed at understanding the origins of tourism tend to focus on tourists, and most research concerning the impacts of tourism tend to focus on locals. The goal of future research should be to explore incentives and impacts for both tourists and locals throughout all stages of tourism. This more holistic perspective will be important as we explore the ways in which ecotourism and other alternative forms of tourism can generate social, economic, and environmental benefits for local communities while also creating truly transformative experiences for tourists.

Tourism has some aspects of showbiz, some of international trade in commodities; it is part innocent fun, part a devastating modernizing force. Being all these things simultaneously, it tends to induce partial analysis only.

     Victor Turner, 1974


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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