Promoting Southern Asia as an exotic destination: a viable asset or a short term perspective ?
As soon as it was discovered by the Western world a few centuries ago, Southeast Asia started to inspire and fascinate. As centuries went by, conquistadores became travelers until these travelers became tourists: these bustling conquerors of a new kind. Straightaway, the unknown began to be subjected to our own colonialist perceptions and loose approaches of otherness. What used to be exotic, because it was untouched by the illnesses of our modern worlds, has turned into what is intrinsically within our constant reach. Exoticism has become something we deal with frequently and eagerly aim at. Our lives are full of goals we desperately seek to attain. Travels and tourism have successfully lured their practitioners into thinking this 'better other living elsewhere' has always been within reach. If our willingness to control and define otherness according to our own standards is inherent to all tourists, it now turns out to be the contrary. Exoticism is now chasing after markets and ruling over a powerful marketing machinery that does not fail to have important consequences over destinations, hosts and guests alike. In response to that, tourists and the industry as a whole are trying to manage exoticism so that it does not turn down on what it has been primarily brought up for. However, how coherent is this willingness to manage otherness and conflict with the Other? How does Southeast Asia promote its exoticism in the first place? This is what I will try to answer in this work...
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