RC50 Home



to be held jointly with

International Tourism Studies Association (ITSA), Shangri-LAsia International Tourism Forum

Shangri-La, Yunnan Province, China

8-10 August 2011


*deadline extended until 30 May 2011*

Shangri-La is now a phantasmal destination in touristic terms, due to its pristine natural beauty, cultural heritage, and links to a legendary book. What was once Zhongdian County, a Tibetan region in NW Yunnan, was renamed Shangri-La County in 2001, laying claim to a globalized brand. The name comes from James Hiltons novel Lost Horizon, written during immense turmoil between the first and second world wars (1933). It immediately struck a cord with a global audience and gave people something to cling onto in dark times, a glimpse of an earthly paradise filled with peace, enlightenment and beauty, in contrast to a world seemingly bent on self-destruction. The story draws from ancient Tibetan narratives of a lost magical land in the Himalaya called Shambhala, an ethereal place unlike any other on earth, resting in the shadow of a vast white mountain, where harmony reigns. However, in Buddhist teachings, Shambhala is much more than a physical paradise; it is a mystical conception and refers to a spiritual rather than physical goal. For centuries people have searched for Shambhala in much the same way that the sociology of tourism has conceived of modern travel as escaped reality, a search for meaning, and indeed an earthly paradise.

Current debates about the future of the planet in terms of climate change, the global financial crisis and economic recession, food security and population growth, natural resource depletion, war and terrorist activity, and a changing global political power structure leaves very little sense of a positive future. This intense pessimistic media discourse, together with real fears about increasing social isolation and a breakdown of society has corresponding issues in recent tourist phenomena: all-inclusive tourism or staycations that cocoon tourists in contained, constructed spaces in the realm of the familiar; psychographic tourist markets criteria limiting tourist interact with people outside their social-cultural milieus; increasing dependence on internet-based social networking to inform travel decisions and social contact whilst travelling; and the increasingly branded nature of places which constructs destinations in multiple, thematic ways.

The broad theme of Exploring New Horizons for the Future of Tourism and the conference venue in Shangri-La for this year's RC50 Seminar offer us a unique occasion for focused discussions and an opportunity to reengage with some core sociological ideas in international tourism. The role of international tourism can be seen as a means to search for something that is lacking yet desired, a sense of meaning and belonging, and to foster intercultural exchange, learning, and personal and social growth. This years RC 50 seminar solicits papers and presentations that engage the sociology of tourism on the following sub-themes:

Postmodern Tourism and Existential Authenticity

• The search for meaning through tourism

• Tourism as escape or the search for paradise: lost and found

• Tourist cocoons and psychographic markets

• Learning through tourisms cultural encounters

Images, Imageries and Imagination in Tourism

• Phantasmal destinations, mysterious, mythical, imaginary worlds

• Tourism and cosmopolitan desires

• Branding local destinations and global popular culture

• Authenticity and tourist experience in ethnic/indigenous communities

The Representation of Phantasmal Destinations

• The role of the media in representing places

• Authenticity in tourism representations

• Social media networks and construction of places/spaces through/for tourism

• Tourism and cultural identity

Tourism and Ethnic/Indigenous Community Development

• Tourism and poverty

• Tourism and cultural change

• Tourism and livelihood in ethnic/indigenous communities

• Sustainable tourism development, ethics and stakeholder analysis


Abstracts due: 30 May 2011

• 250 word minimum -500 word maximum

• Include author's name(s), affiliations, title of paper

• Any references in abstract not included in word count

Full papers due:30 July 2011

Please submit abstracts electronically to one of the following seminar coordinators:

Elizabeth Mathew (Loyola College of Social Sciences, India)


Scott McCabe (Christel DeHaan Tourism and Travel Research Institute, Nottingham U, UK) scott.mccabe@nottingham.ac.uk

Honggen Xiao (School of Hotel and Tourism Management, Hong Kong Polytechnic U)


© 2011 RC50 & ISA