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Projecting Paradise: The Surf Media and the Hermeneutic Circle in Surfing Tourism

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Imagery of perfect uncrowded surf in paradisaical tropical destinations has been the dominant theme in the surf media since its inception. The hermeneutic circle of representation in tourism has been explored in the context of tourism industry advertising material with tourists reproducing iconic images of destinations through their own photographic choices (Butler & Hall, 1998; Crawshaw & Urry, 1997; Hall, 1997; Jenkins, 2003; Urry, 1990a, 1990b). This article extends such research by exploring the media's role in driving a hermeneutic circle in the absence of tourism industry marketing. The article employs grounded theory method in an instrumental case study investigating the role of the surf media in the social construction of an idealized surfing tourist space. As well as providing the first empirical evidence of the relationship between the surf media and tourism demand, the article explores the symbolic elements of surfing tourist space, imagery of which drives a multi-billion-dollar global surf industry. The article expands the notion of the hermeneutic circle by looking beyond impacts on marketing and tourist behavior and questioning the implications of a tourism industry that continues to develop in remote, less-developed regions as an ad hoc response to demand fueled by media imagery of commercially created symbols designed to sell fashion items and consumer goods.
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Keywords: GROUNDED THEORY; HERMENEUTIC CIRCLE; MENTAWAI ISLANDS; SURF TOURISM; SURFING; TOURISM AND MEDIA; TOURIST SPACE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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  • The aim of Tourism Analysis is to promote a forum for practitioners and academicians in the fields of Leisure, Recreation, Tourism, and Hospitality (LRTH). As a interdisciplinary journal, it is an appropriate outlet for articles, research notes, and computer software packages designed to be of interest, concern, and of applied value to its audience of professionals, scholars, and students of LRTH programs the world over.
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