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Visiting the Borderless City: Traveling via the Internet
Unformatted Document Text:  institutions such as travel agencies, central city hotels and the package tour. These developments made travel inexpensive and safe for the middle class, but they also meant travel was mediated by experts who could inform the tourist about the destination and its attractions. In contrast, postmodern tourism encourages visitors to pursue their own interests and develop their own expertise (142-148). Simultaneously, the growth of visual consumption has expanded what visitors find interesting. Film and television have trained individuals to look for the aesthetic in everyday environments, and modern advertisements encourage the appreciation of images more than utility. Thus, people go to the Hard Rock Cafe as much for the atmosphere as for the food. According to Urry, this consumption of images is precisely what characterizes tourism, and in this sense, the tourist experience is no longer distinctive. 17 In short, people are continually looking to consume interesting images--at home watching television, at a local ethnic restaurant or visiting a city for the first time. What the Internet adds to this is the ability to consume images of a location before traveling there. Urry recognizes this connection between visual media and physical space when he writes, ’People are tourists most of the time whether they are literally mobile or only experience simulated mobility through the incredible fluidity of multiple signs and electronic images’ (148). However, in Urry’s model, consumers have a fairly limited selection of images that are easily available, from magazine advertisements to movies. With the Internet the consumer has much more selection in the images they wish to consume immediately, and the goals of travel become more open. Travelers to Chicago might visit the Natural History Museum after learning about it at the official Chicago Tourism Web site, but they also might search out a club where the local band Etherfrolics is playing after listening to sample tracks from their Web

Authors: Fotsch, Paul.
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institutions such as travel agencies, central city hotels and the package tour. These developments
made travel inexpensive and safe for the middle class, but they also meant travel was mediated
by experts who could inform the tourist about the destination and its attractions. In contrast,
postmodern tourism encourages visitors to pursue their own interests and develop their own
expertise (142-148).
Simultaneously, the growth of visual consumption has expanded what visitors find
interesting. Film and television have trained individuals to look for the aesthetic in everyday
environments, and modern advertisements encourage the appreciation of images more than
utility. Thus, people go to the Hard Rock Cafe as much for the atmosphere as for the food.
According to Urry, this consumption of images is precisely what characterizes tourism, and in
this sense, the tourist experience is no longer distinctive.
17
In short, people are continually
looking to consume interesting images--at home watching television, at a local ethnic restaurant
or visiting a city for the first time.
What the Internet adds to this is the ability to consume images of a location before
traveling there. Urry recognizes this connection between visual media and physical space when
he writes, ’People are tourists most of the time whether they are literally mobile or only
experience simulated mobility through the incredible fluidity of multiple signs and electronic
images’ (148). However, in Urry’s model, consumers have a fairly limited selection of images
that are easily available, from magazine advertisements to movies. With the Internet the
consumer has much more selection in the images they wish to consume immediately, and the
goals of travel become more open. Travelers to Chicago might visit the Natural History Museum
after learning about it at the official Chicago Tourism Web site, but they also might search out a
club where the local band Etherfrolics is playing after listening to sample tracks from their Web


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