Residential Tourism and Multiple Mobilities: Local Citizenship and Community Fragmentation in Costa Rica
Current patterns of “move-in move-out” hypermobility are perfectly exemplified by residential tourism: the temporary or permanent mobility of relatively well-to-do citizens from mostly western countries to a variety of tourist destinations, where they buy property. The mobility of residential tourists does not stand alone, but has broader chain effects: it converts local destinations into transnational spaces, leading to a highly differentiated and segmented population landscape. In this article, residential tourism’s implications in terms of local society in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, are examined, starting from the idea that these implications should be viewed as complex and traveling in time and space. Mobile groups, such as residential tourists, can have an important local participation and involvement (independently of national citizenship), although recent flows of migrants settle more into compatriot social networks. The fact that various migrant populations continually travel back and forth and do not envision a future in the area may restrict their opportunities and willingness for local involvement. Transnational involvement in itself is not a problem and can be successfully combined with high local involvement; however, the great level of fragmentation, mobility, temporariness and absenteeism in Guanacaste circumscribes successful community organizing. Still, the social system has not completely dissolved.
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