Just Google It

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  • Title: Just Google It: Discursive Construction and Material Impacts of South African Cities through Tourism Websites
  • Author(s): Emily Sauter
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Tourism and Leisure Studies
  • Journal Title: Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies
  • Keywords: South Africa, Rhetoric, Tourism
  • Volume: 3
  • Issue: 2
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2470-9336 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2470-9344 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2470-9336/CGP/v03i02/21-35
  • Citation: Sauter, Emily. 2019. "Just Google It: Discursive Construction and Material Impacts of South African Cities through Tourism Websites." Journal of Tourism and Leisure Studies 3 (2): 21-35. doi:10.18848/2470-9336/CGP/v03i02/21-35.
  • Extent: 15 pages

Abstract

South Africa has been a country that has captured the attention of the world for decades. It is a country that has undergone tremendous violence and upheaval during the apartheid years, transformed itself into a functioning democracy, and has become a welcome member of the global community. However, as South Africa settles into a post-apartheid democracy, there are growing reports of rising crime, violence, and persistent poverty. It is vital then that South Africa find a way to reframe the narratives surrounding the major cities in South Africa if the country wants to continue to grow their tourism sector, a sector that has become an important part of the local economy. This article focuses on the ways in which digital tourism literature is an important point of entry for international tourists that work to “sell the city.” To illuminate the ways in which these websites are attempting to mobilize political, cultural, and historical resources to build an overarching identity for the nation to sell to tourists, I examine three prominent tourist websites run by the South African government to unearth implicit ideological narratives of the country. I conclude that these narratives work as discursive frameworks that serve two functions. One, they select, deflect, and reflect a “reality” of a post-apartheid South Africa that seems most likely to attract tourists—a nation that is safe, modern, unique, and (above all) consumable. Second, these narratives have real physical impact on a city. When tourist information frames cities, or parts of the city, as something distinct and thus worth visiting, I argue the city must shift to accommodate those expectations.