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Visiting the Borderless City: Traveling via the Internet
Unformatted Document Text:  Visiting the Borderless City: Traveling via the Internet Travel has become one of the most successful products to be marketed on the World Wide Web. 1 The Web is a better match for travel than for other products for one primary reason: unlike other products, which can be tried out in a store before being purchased, you must purchase travel before you experience it directly. 2 The Internet lets people experience places before they visit in a way that looking in a guidebook or watching a video tour does not. It offers the sense that one can explore a city from a distance by finding recent information about it or looking at it through streaming video. 3 The growing role of the Internet for travel is significant given that the tourism industry is one of the largest employers in the United States. 4 As manufacturing has declined in significance, tourism has become especially important for cities. Boosters see creating a tourist friendly city improving not just the local economy but also the general quality of life. Moreover, by enhancing a city’s image they believe tourism will motivate new companies to locate in their city (Law, 1993: 28). 5 But this essay is less concerned with calculating the economic costs and benefits of tourism than with understanding how the Internet influences the way cities adapt themselves for tourists. Depending on the type of tourism officials hope to attract, a city must construct facilities, provide services, and promote businesses that support it. Critics of tourist oriented development argue this adaption by the city results in the homogenization and commodification of space. After summarizing these criticisms, I consider how the Internet may both encourage and discourage these trends. By looking at two examples of tourism in New York City after September 11, I conclude that the Internet encourages very diverse types of tourism, some of

Authors: Fotsch, Paul.
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Visiting the Borderless City: Traveling via the Internet
Travel has become one of the most successful products to be marketed on the World
Wide Web.
1
The Web is a better match for travel than for other products for one primary reason:
unlike other products, which can be tried out in a store before being purchased, you must
purchase travel before you experience it directly.
2
The Internet lets people experience places
before they visit in a way that looking in a guidebook or watching a video tour does not. It offers
the sense that one can explore a city from a distance by finding recent information about it or
looking at it through streaming video.
3
The growing role of the Internet for travel is significant given that the tourism industry is
one of the largest employers in the United States.
4
As manufacturing has declined in
significance, tourism has become especially important for cities. Boosters see creating a tourist
friendly city improving not just the local economy but also the general quality of life. Moreover,
by enhancing a city’s image they believe tourism will motivate new companies to locate in their
city (Law, 1993: 28).
5
But this essay is less concerned with calculating the economic costs and benefits of
tourism than with understanding how the Internet influences the way cities adapt themselves for
tourists. Depending on the type of tourism officials hope to attract, a city must construct
facilities, provide services, and promote businesses that support it. Critics of tourist oriented
development argue this adaption by the city results in the homogenization and commodification
of space. After summarizing these criticisms, I consider how the Internet may both encourage
and discourage these trends. By looking at two examples of tourism in New York City after
September 11, I conclude that the Internet encourages very diverse types of tourism, some of


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