Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Botterill provides a narrative account, which
describes his research career but in conjunction
with a 'metaphor of a journey of getting to know
tourism through social scientifi c inquiry' (2003,
p. 97). Botterill states '. . . when choices are
made about 'the research' by an individual
researcher: what topic to research? How to
research the topic? And the interpretation of the
results, they are shaped by the totality of experi-
ence surrounding the researcher' (2003, p. 98).
Botterill's personal and research journeys led
him to join a new area of 'critical realist tourism
research', which delves into the way power
works in tourism and in particular to focus on
topics of 'social inclusion' and 'crisis'. I will now
offer a brief autoethnographic narrative, rich in
visual references to animate objects and inani-
mate emotions, about my experience of tourism
development in order to uncover some of the
sources for my perspectives on tourism as well
as briefl y suggest how it has infl uenced and will
continue to infl uence my research agenda.
seashells and selling them to the tourists in the
summer season. Locals complained about the
impacts of outsiders (among which my family
was included!), but still built their businesses
and jobs on the economic opportunities that
these outsiders offered to their small, poor and
out-of-the-way community. Life had a rhythm
to it: summer brought the tourists and second-
home owners, higher prices in our shops and
increased traffi c on our one road and bridge off
the island; but winter followed when life returned
to a more sedate pace, prices lowered, we had
the island to ourselves and the shells washed up
on the shore from the winter storms.
The peak would always be the week of the
4th of July as nearby Southport held one of the
country's oldest and visually dramatic celebra-
tions. Over the years, visitation for this event
escalated from a few thousand visitors, to 1972
when the Fourth of July Festival was declared as
the offi cial North Carolina Fourth of July Festi-
val and visitation skyrocketed to tens of thou-
sands more tourists. Today more than 50,000
people are attracted to this small community
during this time. It was in my teenage years that
I observed that many locals would choose to
stay at home rather than join the long queue of
cars that would take hours to reach the highlight
of the festival, the annual parade. Most were
working long hours during this time in order to
make the money that would tide them over in
the off-season.
Things changed dramatically during these
years. A permanent bridge replaced the fl oat-
ing, pontoon bridge that a drunken barge boat
captain knocked out in 1971. Numerous facili-
ties were built to service the tourists that the
locals grew to appreciate, including cafes, res-
taurants, bars, large retail chains, a cinema
and entertainment complexes featuring arcade
games, water slides and miniature golf. This
ameliorated the boredom for youth and miti-
gated the need for adults to travel some 75 miles
to access such facilities on the mainland.
As the ranks of second-home owners incre-
ased and were joined by other types of tourists,
more facilities were developed including golf
courses, marinas, hotels and up-market residen-
tial developments, some of which attracted the
more wealthy locals as clients, but more often
provided much needed employment in this
rather poor area of the state.
My Autoethnographic Narrative
My perspective has been shaped by an almost
idyllic childhood growing up in a small, visually
stimulating rural coastal community: a small
island just off the coast of North Carolina in the
USA. In my heart, this is my island . When my
mother moved to this island in the mid-1960s, it
had a permanent population of some 500 souls,
but these would be joined in summer by
(wealthier) people from upstate and interstate
who had holiday homes on our island. At that
time, we still had the swamps and the marshes
that were a feature of many southern coastal
areas. We saw alligators and freshwater turtles,
as well as egrets and other marsh birds, which
thrived on the mud and marsh that sat between
our island and the mainland. We also saw foxes,
bears and even the odd mountain lion in addi-
tion to numerous possums, raccoons and squir-
rels that featured in this area. On the seashore,
loggerhead sea turtles would bury their eggs in
summer and after nearly 2 months their hatch-
lings would then try to make the precarious
journey from the shore to the sea. Seashells
abounded in these prolifi c waters. This is how
my family made a living - collecting and trading
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