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February 24: Branding Tourism and Postmodern Tourism

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ANTH 3120
Karl Schmid

SellingAustralia • The Brand: ◦ icon of the beach ◦ the experience, the essence ◦ emotional relationship customers have with the thing that they want or are probably going to buy ◦ whatAustralia means outside matters to how the business is runs, starts to affect how you think ◦ turns a nation into a commodity, even though it's a social-commnity ◦ adventure, rather than romantic Las Vegas (ultimate representational tourism) • major tourism destination, sometimes described as an outlet from the US • Simulacra ◦ particular form of representation ◦ where authenticity detaches ◦ what we think of as authentic no longer becomes meaningful ◦ surreal, place of spectacle ◦ Simulacra: sign that refers to no external reality ▪ representing wood visually, but is not actually wood but is a picture of wood on plastic/polymer for flooring ▪ it sort of refers to it, but it's a representation of something else that has become stretched so far that it's lost that meaning ▪ informs us that the representation is longer bringing a meaningful representation there; it doesn't have to be real or authentic ▪ so devoid of an attempt to accurately represent ▪ a measure of distance in terms of representations ◦ what is intended? not authenticity ▪ the intention behind simulacra is often something else, in this case it's entertainment, shopping, leisure ▪ it's bascially the picture of the wood ▪ a form of play ▪ often when we have representations, they are a sign that refers to something else ▪ Las Vegas is a sign that refers to itself, the values and ideas of why people come to Las Vegas, what people are trying to do there in those kinds of spaces, spectacle consumption and commodification ◦ Hotels, new example of the enclave, designed in ways that keep you inside  ▪ lack of clocks, lack of noticeable exits, massive complexes • "Tradition of Reinvention" ◦ history of Las Vegas ◦ not about tradition or roots, but has a tradition of reinventing itself, periodically trying to redefine itself, has different socio-economic-political forces at play  1. 1905-1940s, Railway Town to Wild West ▪ male playground, men involved in construction work ▪ some tourists, not coming to Las Vegas, but wanted to see the Hoover Dam, icon ofAmerican ingenuity ▪ Army defense spending that generates this place and brings a lot of men to it ▪ in this early period it plays with the idea of being a Wild West town, reflection and symbol of the Wild West, even though it's vanished from this time ▪ gambling is there in part bc of the masculine culture, worker saloons, casinos, and bordellos ▪ the state legalizes gambling for the tourist industry ▪ liberalizes divorce, uses this as a tourist attraction ▪ now it's more the place that precipitates divorce :P ▪ LApolice are cracking down on gambling and crime, and Las Vegas develops as an outlet for this behaviour that aren't permissible in LA ▪ working class kind of place, most of the poeple being drawn there  2. 1940s-1980s, Exotic mob and organized crime town ▪ this elicit behaviour is attracting organized crime and the mob ▪ mob money moves in ▪ start to see a diverse theming of these larger establishments, tend to be tropical themes, desert things, and European/continental themes ▪ they evoke other places, using this representation in a playful way ▪ a bit of that in the previous era with the Wild West imagery ▪ Caesar's Palace, looking for grandeur, spectacular impact, connecting the desert that the city is in with the Sahara orArabian mystique 3. 1980s-2000s, Corporate mega-spectacles and properties ▪ shopping becomes more important, more money from shopping than from gambling ▪ 68% of the top 20 hotels are in Las Vegas ▪ Venetican Palazzo is 7000 rooms ▪ MGM Grand, 6500 ▪ Luxor, 5000 ▪ reinvent the hotel, bring in new elements, but it's about entertainment and shopping experience in combination with the gambling ▪ effort to go more mainstream and attract families, but it's not really working 4. 2000s+, Ultimate performance and shopping enclaves ▪ place you go to see the biggest shows in NAmerica, biggest stars end up in residence there, performance dollars are another leg of the Las Vegas experience ▪ new concept of designing, where there is a new reinvention ▪ one ofthe problems from the perspective of people building these massive enclaves is that they feel that people are making too much of the spectacle from the outside, don't need to go inside ▪ you can make more money if you use the enclaving concept ▪ there is no franchise in a casual observer, there is money in a guest ▪ Win Las Vegas, Lake of Dreams, spectacle on the inside of the hotel that you can only see if you're a guest ▪ trying more and more to keep them inside, the new concept ▪ other entrepreneurs are looking at Winn's model and competing against them in terms of developing hotel complexes that will keep them spending within ◦ It's not a tourism destination that is built on referring to a traditional past, but is constantly reinventing itself, a lot of times in terms of market trends, who do you attract? what elements do you bring? ◦ connect to the Mall World, idea of creating entertainment, a space that people want to dwell in, a stimulating space (food, performance, entertainment, and shopping) ◦ Cruise-Ship, containerized  ◦ Hotels are so massive, but they will blow these hotels up to make something new in order to generate new revenue and have the new thing ◦ will it ultimately be profitable? Postmodern Tourism • Somewhat cynical, not interested in authenticity, knows that it's not there • but let's have fun with it • See the unreality of everything • "No longer care" (entertain/fun) • tourists go less and less to the historical, explanatory organized tours, but are more interested in the enclaved, entertaining, desire for spectacle, always has to have a performance aspect to it • "real" places aren't generating as much profitability as Las Vegas • that "work" of seeing places is more the traveler, but the tourist wants to kick back and relax • Las Vegas is the epitome of that, meeting that demand but also reinforcing it 2. Ngadha Village ▯ Three perpsectives • Indonesia state ◦ racialized heirarchy ◦ persepctive
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