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Analysing Backpacker Tourism in Rural Colombia: Towards a Political Economy Framework

Thieme, Juliane, Hampton, Mark P., Zigan, Krystin (2016) Analysing Backpacker Tourism in Rural Colombia: Towards a Political Economy Framework. In: ATLAS Annual Conference on Tourism, Lifestyles and Locations., 14 -16 September 2016, Canterbury, UK. (Unpublished) (KAR id:66851)


Tourist arrivals have grown at more than 5% in Latin America, growing at 12% in Colombia in 2014 (UNWTO). Although little official data exists, it seems that backpacker tourism is a thriving segment in Latin America. Both the improved security and the improved economic situation in those countries means that more people are able to travel within Latin America, though the impacts of tourism development there have not been sufficiently explored yet. This paper introduces a new framework to analyse tourism development and its impacts on rural, local communities in Less Developed Countries (LDCs), adopting a Political Economy approach, building on Ferguson's (2011) and Mosedale's (2011) work. The new framework combines the consumption and production side of tourism, a shortcoming of the perceived dichotomy as identified by Ateljevic (2001). For a deeper understanding of the impacts of production and consumption on a local community in a rural setting, the social, cultural and political embeddedness of all the actors of the researched communities are investigated. The study also looks at the links between the local and global actors who are brought together through tourism development in an LDC, and the resulting power structures in the communities. The paper discusses the elements of the framework in detail, and shows their usefulness in understanding the political economy underlying tourism development in rural communities that rely heavily on tourism. The paper builds on extensive fieldwork (n = 53 interviews) in two rural communities in Colombia to test the framework. On the consumption side, the initial analysis of regional and international backpackers and their travel behaviour revealed tendencies for different preferences such as geographical destination or length of stay for Latin Americans in comparison to Western backpackers. On the production side, small- and medium-sized enterprises catering to these types of tourists, their development, and their relationship within each other and within their community are investigated. The resulting insights reveal the complex relationships and social, cultural and political interdependencies of the actors, which seem to influence the development of the community.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Kent Business School - Division > Department of Leadership and Management
Depositing User: Tracey Pemble
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2018 14:40 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 11:20 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Thieme, Juliane.

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Hampton, Mark P..

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Zigan, Krystin.

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