Tourism is important for Africa: international tourist arrivals to Africa continue to grow, income from tourism is crucial to national economies, and tourism investments are considered among the most profitable. This edited volume deals with the interaction of local communities with tourists coming into their areas and villages. Based upon a common theoretical approach, fourteen cases of African tourism are discussed which involve direct contact between 'hosts' and 'guests'.
The viewpoint throughout is from the side of the locals, establishing how the processes of interaction shape each small scale destination. Crucial in Africa is the fact that the large majority of tourism is game oriented and the interaction between locals and visitors is very much 'tainted' by this fact. Central is the notion of the tourist bubble - the infrastructure that is generated locally (and internationally) for hosting tourists, as it is this institutional interface that tends to impact on the local society and culture, not the tourists themselves directly. The examples come from all over Africa, from the Sahara to the Eastern Cape, and from Kenya to Ghana. All contributions are based upon original fieldwork.
Walter Van Beek —
Walter van Beek is professor of anthropology at Tilburg University and Senior Researcher at the African Studies Centre, Leiden.
Annette Schmidt —
Annette Schmidt is curator of the African department at the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, and is an archaeologist with a long experience in cultural management projects.
African hosts & their guests: cultural dynamics of tourism, ed. by Walter van Beek and Annette Schmidt. James Currey, 2012. 340p index afp; ISBN 9781847010490. Reviewed in 2013apr CHOICE.
This collection of insightful essays on tourism in Africa makes a major contribution to the literature and helps readers understand what attracts foreign visitors and the costs and benefits for those engaged in the tourist trade. Africa is a diverse and complex continent, but south of the Maghreb, it is commonly perceived as one destination. A major attraction is the nature reserves and the fauna that inhabit them. As the foreword explains, these locations are where "the 'West' goes to find its adventures in the splendour of the African game parks." But the situation is more complex: encounters with nature are often accompanied by visits to strange cultures and picturesque people, the aim being to witness a "real" Africa of unspoiled nature and an exotic humanity. Groups that best match these expectations are those that are seen as "fierce"--for instance, the Tuareg and the Maasai, or "primitive" people such as the Bushmen (San), who present themselves dressed in animal skins. In many instances, the encounter between hosts and guests--particularly at the local level--reflects the myths and attitudes of Western societies characteristic of a postcolonial situation. Governments and the industry stage the appropriate product; designated groups learn their roles.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. -- O. Pi-Sunyer, emeritus, University of Massachusetts at Amherst