The Application of Slow Movement to Tourism

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Tourism as a leisure activity is clearly the dominant form of recreation in the twenty-first century. For years, mass tourism was the main form of tourism; however, although academics broadly use the term “mass tourism,” there is no universally accepted definition for it. Interestingly, there are not many writings that refer to the concept of mass tourism; in existing texts, it is common for authors to use the phrase “mass tourism” without defining it. Moreover, many authors prefer to refer to other writers than to define “mass tourism” in their own words. The lack of a commonly accepted definition for mass tourism is likely because the nature of tourism is multifaceted and, as an activity, is approached from different scientific fields. But the absence of a conceptual determination for mass tourism creates methodological problems, particularly when referring to its new and opposite trend—namely, the alternative forms of tourism. In recent years, significant changes in tourism demand have been recorded. The tourist choices, particularly from “mature” countries of origin, seem to have changed radically. Although some tourists, especially those derived from new markets (Russia, China, etc.), continue to follow the mass standards, many of the so-called “mature and experienced” markets seek to experience something totally different. Thus, mass tourism gradually gives way to the independent or selective tourism and, by extension, to the alternative forms of tourism. What is known in English as “slow tourism” is one of the new trends in contemporary tourism. This trend emerged from the wider trend of the so-called “Slow Movement.” By extension, slow tourism contrasts with the hitherto prevailing trend of mass tourism or fast tourism. An intense dialogue has developed over the difficulties to define and accept a concrete concept for “slow tourism.” This article is an effort to define and clarify the different meanings and aspects of “mass tourism” and “slow tourism” by conducting a literature review and, finally, concluding that slow tourism seems to be “authentic tourism.”