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Tourism smellscapes

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An over-emphasis on the tourist gaze tends to disregard the fact that the unique character of a place can additionally be imparted by its aromas. Yet because olfactory sensations are so difficult to describe, it is necessary to turn to writers who can effectively communicate the scents of destinations and their people to those who visit them. While several of these authors have a predilection for the countryside, there are many more that manage to capture the odoriferous atmosphere of cities. This preliminary study examines a number of classical and contemporary accounts in relation to space (the developing and developed worlds) and time (pre-modern, modern and post-modern). It further explores the extent to which these excerpts are couched in predominantly positive, neutral or negative terms, as agents of promotion or demotion. It argues that in order for a contemporary tourism destination to be successful it must attract by more than vision, by aromatically appealing to both its past and present.
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Keywords: aromatic valence; city odours; countryside scents; smellscapes; travel writing

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2003

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