Friday, October 23, 2009

Tourism stereotypes

Quite often professionals of the tourism sector (for example, tour operators, travel agencies, etc) tend to resort to cultural stereotypes to promote their tourists products but cultural stereotypes can be dangerous because they are too general (they do not distinguish between the different cultures or regions within the same country) and therefore they simplify the cultural richness of any country.
There are many stereotypical images of Spain, the country where I live. I found this postcard in a tourist spot in Seville a couple of weeks ago and it made me reflect upon the cultural image tourism sometimes conveys. This postcard, using the letters of "Spain", summarizes many stereotypes that are associated with Spain: bullfighting, olives, sun, wine, the letter ñ and flamenco dancing.

Is this the way foreigners see Spain? Do you think stereotypes give an accurate portray of a country? Which cultural stereotypes are typically associated with your country? I hope to hear from all of you as I am very interested in your comments. Thanks for your participation.
Picture by Mikel Urmeneta for kukuxumusu


lakshmi jena said...
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Mr.Ar said...

stereotype may be the source of dangerous thing for a country. I agree with you. Many people generalize a small things into the bigger one. Many simplify the complex things. For this reasons, we should clarify the stereotype they have.

Gonzalo said...


I agree with you, I think we all have stereotypes when we don´t know other culture, we should really be more careful when travelling abroad and distinguish between different opinions that people have.

From my own experience, I think most of European people don´t really believe in these stereotypes, maybe just as a joke. Although, I experienced these wrong stereotypes when I was in The States, as some people don´t even know where Spain is!!. It makes me sad, but it´s the truth.


Gonzalo Corral

Samah Matalqa said...

I DONT think stereotypes give an accurate portray of my country and that is because of the Media which exaggerate things ,especially talking about the Middle East and Jordan specifically, For example people have the idea of having camels and living in tents and having ten kids but this is all not true. So, in my opinion knowing a culture very well requires visiting it and dealing with its people instead of passing judgments randomly.

Mais said...

No, a stereotype does not give an accurate portrait of one’s country and sometimes disconnects it from the rest of the world. Jordan as an example is one of the Arab countries and many foreign people around the world have these ideas about it, for example: Jordanians still transport on camels, Women don’t work and there is no internet too. On the contrary Jordanians have reached high level of standards in the transportation sector, lots of women in Jordan work and can vote too, and we do have internet. So we as a world must come together and bring down these misconceptions.

marykate1988 said...


I think that people shouldn’t have stereotypes about any place or country, because these don’t show the reality many times.

The most of people in the world think that they will find in Spain to people wearing typical Spanish dress all the time, dancing and singing Sevillanas, eating Spanish cured ham or drinking wine, but it isn’t in this way, because it happens only when we celebrate some festivities. Other stereotype about this country is that Spanish people don’t work and they are always in parties and festivities, but this isn’t absolutely true. These stereotypes happen sometimes inside of the same country: for example, people think that Cataluña’s citizens are very mean; or that Andalucía’s citizens are more cheerful and friendly that people who live in the Northern Spain, and these statements aren’t always true. But, other problem is that Spain is sold in this way in travel agencies many times.

Finally, I should tell that people should know the true culture about a country before travelling to him.

Mari Carmen Serrano González

Manuel said...

Well, I’m going to play the Devil's advocate because I think that stereotypes also may have a positive side: they are publicity and they attract people. And as soon as these people started to know the country they would find that its cultural richness is bigger as they though at the beginning. For example, I may have some prejudices about USA thinking that everybody carries guns at the streets, that they are like cowboys… but I’m sure that if I could travel to USA I would change my mind as soon as I could met different people. I think that we shouldn’t consider stereotypes farther than a kind of joke.

Manuel Jesús Soriano Laguna

Aurora fdez said...

I agree that no country can be summarized using this method, but I think that each country has particular features and this way is sometimes useful for foreign people to recognize it. I think that Spain has so much more than it is shown on this postcard, but it only displays the different stuffs that any other country offers.

Lucía said...

When I've worked as a tour guide in Uruguay, my country ; it was funny to see many tourists reactions, especially from Americans. My family has been in South America for many generations and my ancestors are mainly from Asturias, the Basque country andGalicia, and from northern Italy. I am pretty much like a red haired because of the skin (I am very white), the freckles and the eyes except for the hair. They were always asking ... Are YOU from here? I've never said: what did you expected an indian with a feather and a bow or Carmen Miranda? Besides, telling them my ancestors were Spanish didn´t help very much beacuse I don´t look very "bata de cola, catanuelas y ole".