Wednesday 12 April 2023
08.30 - 10.30
(Un)familiar Ground. Unravelling the Links between (Trans)nationalism and Tourism (18th-20th Century)
Sune Bechmann Pedersen :
Planning for Transnational Travel: Postwar Tourism Boosters and the Reconstruction of Europe
Andreas Stynen, Gerrit Verhoeven
At the close of the nineteenth century, ‘tourism’ was a neologism in most European languages. Half a century later, the phenomenon had attained a multivalence that provided broad support for the development of international travel. American travel boosters viewed international tourism as a shortcut for Europeans to closing the postwar ... (Show more)
At the close of the nineteenth century, ‘tourism’ was a neologism in most European languages. Half a century later, the phenomenon had attained a multivalence that provided broad support for the development of international travel. American travel boosters viewed international tourism as a shortcut for Europeans to closing the postwar dollar gap. Idealist perceptions of tourism as key to mutual understanding between peoples abounded. Simultaneously, tourism boosters framed the holiday movement and the right to paid leave as a bulwark against communism.
The emerging tourist professionals carved out roles for themselves in the OEEC implementing the European Recovery Plan and founded new international organisations (the European Travel Commission; the International Union of Official Travel Organisations). In these fora, the travel boosters advocated for state intervention and planning in support of the emerging tourist industry, at the same time as they fought vigorously for the free mobility of people, capital, and goods.
This paper examines the ideological multivalence of tourism boosting in postwar Europe. It explores the tension between planning and de-regulation in the formulation and implementation of tourism policies in the western democracies. By charting the production of knowledge about tourism and the formulation of problems related to tourism inside international organisations, the paper shows how neoliberal advocates of free trade found curious allies among tourist boosters also committed to state intervention and planning. The paper thus interrogates the role of technocratic experts seeking to reconcile national zero-sum perceptions of international tourism with a globalist agenda of unimpeded leisure mobility. By doing so, it connects the historiography on European post-war development of tourism with broader debates about European integration, neoliberalism, and globalisation. (Show less)
Andreas Stynen, Kas Swerts :
Opponents on the Same Grounds. Conflicting Tourist Organizations in Interwar Belgium
Interwar Belgium offers a fascinating case for an analysis of the relationship between nationalism and tourism at the level of intermediary associations. When peace returned in the war-torn country in 1918, the Touring Club de Belgique (TCB) was eager to continue its activities. Relying on the extensive membership assembled since ... (Show more)
Interwar Belgium offers a fascinating case for an analysis of the relationship between nationalism and tourism at the level of intermediary associations. When peace returned in the war-torn country in 1918, the Touring Club de Belgique (TCB) was eager to continue its activities. Relying on the extensive membership assembled since its foundation in 1895, the Club turned into an influential vehicle of national fervor: excursions, guidebooks and maps encouraged Belgians to honor their homeland by exploring its regions (especially the war zones and the German-speaking villages annexed after Versailles), whereas the widely distributed bulletin also appealed to the State to restore the greatness of damaged sites and landscapes. The Touring Club explicitly performed as the mouthpiece of the entire, unified Belgian nation. Its aspirations, however, were audaciously challenged from 1922 onwards, when the Flemish Tourist Association (Vlaamsche Toeristenbond, VTB) was founded. The Tourist Association adopted methods and strategies of its counterpart, but not without fine-tuning them. Though officially not politically involved, the ambition to teach Flemish people how to travel – and thus emancipating them – was an ideological one. While the TCB was backed by the government and as such a catalyst of state nationalism, the VTB was an exponent of a so-called sub-state or ethnic nationalism. Our paper will question this clear-cut dichotomy, by focusing on differences as well as similarities in the ideas, strategies and practices of the two initiatives on the one hand, and by arguing how these two tourist associations proved to be instrumental to the development of a meso-level civil society in Flanders on the other hand.
At first the TCB could ignore its Flemish challenger, but this became increasingly difficult as the VTB saw a steady increase in membership throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Also, the organizations operated in the same field, appropriating the Belgian/Flemish countryside and cities both symbolically (in their tourist discourse and with activities such as excursions and walks) and materially (in erecting monuments, commemorative plates and signposts). By designating the tourist associations as functioning between the individual and the state, it becomes possible to shed new light on the intricate connection between nationalism and tourism. Instead of characterizing tourist associations as a mere extension of state policies on tourism, it will be argued that these associations were crucial agents in the articulation and development of these policies on a state level, and proved to be instrumental as a space that allowed for the discussion and contestation of tourist policies. The associations also operated on a supra-individual level, and as such allowed for an amalgam of different national identities to flourish in the associations, and be contested and discussed within the social groups. By emphasizing the plethora of different national identities that co-existed in these two tourist associations, the essay will be able to nuance the traditional perspective on the connection between tourism and nationalism, and highlight how these tourist associations, rather than extending one distinct national identity, induced the development of myriad national identities in their organization. (Show less)
Gerrit Verhoeven, Silke Geven :
Which Belgium do we sell? Discussions on Tourism Marketing and Nationalism (1930-’80)
During the 20th century, marketing of tourist destinations increasingly shifted from a local to a national level, as politicians became aware of the economic potential of tourism in terms of tax revenues, employment and other gains. Moreover, politicians gradually discovered that (smart) tourism branding could produce positive hetero- and auto-images, ... (Show more)
During the 20th century, marketing of tourist destinations increasingly shifted from a local to a national level, as politicians became aware of the economic potential of tourism in terms of tax revenues, employment and other gains. Moreover, politicians gradually discovered that (smart) tourism branding could produce positive hetero- and auto-images, that were, not only, vital to attract moneyed, foreign tourists, but also strengthened national identities. This lecture focusses on debates about tourism policy on the national level by looking at the minutes of parliamentary discussions and at the annual reports of the CGT, the national tourist office of Belgium. During the last few decades, a host of experts from the Tourist Studies have tried to disentangle these links between nationalism and tourism marketing. However, a historical lens, that zeroes in on the topic in a diachronic way, remains largely missing. In this lecture, the speakers will elaborate on the discussions concerning tourism on a national level. By means of the minutes of parliamentary discussions and the annual reports of the CGT (Commissariat General for Tourism), the speakers will try to provide a fresh perspective. Belgium is an interesting case as the rivalling identities - local and national, but especially regional (Flemish & Walloon) led to diametrically opposed ideas about how the country should be sold to foreign and domestic tourists alike. Belgian MP's were at variance on the regions and products (the Coast, the Ardennes, the Cities of Art,...) that should be branded as vaut-le-voyage, on the strategies to be used (media, target group, brands,...) or the institutions (national, regional or local TIO's) involved. Sometimes these differing opinions ran parallel with the classic fault lines between the two linguistic communities, yet more often they ran straight across these communities and party lines. Drawing on the parliamentary minutes and annual reports of the CGT this lecture zooms in on three issues. First of all, we aim to identify the "puppeteers" behind the scene and their motivations. Which political parties - or individual MP's - were beating the nationalistic drum and why? What kind of tourist product - or which Belgium - did they evoke or brand? Last but not least, we will focus on the motives that were used to slate the traditional approach and institutions. (Show less)