Animals in Tourism Studies

This post and the video below are based on the article “Literature Review: Animals as part of Tourism” – an outcome of the project “Animal Welfare in Tourism Services”.  The article was published in Finnish in the Finnish Journal of Tourism Research.  The study was conducted by Mikko Äijälä, JC García-Rosell and Minni Haanpää. “The main objectives of the literature review was to gain a better understanding of human-animal encounters in tourism studies.”

 Animals in Tourism

 Animals play a key role in the creation of tourism and leisure experiences. They have become icons and symbols of destinations around the world. Tourism is another significant industry that has turned animals into organizational resources to achieve economic goals. It is not surprising that concern for animal rights and welfare has been growing among tourism scholars and the public in general. From this perspective, tourism offers an excellent empirical context for the theoretical problematization of human-animal encounters.

Huskies
Photo: JC García-Rosell

Searching for animal-related tourism studies

We conducted a search in a data based called Hospitality & Tourism Complete in order to identify tourism and hospitality studies focusing on animals. To that end, we used the search word “animal*”. We were able to identified a total number of 77 relevant articles. We complemented this sample of articles with other literature sources (e.g. books, dissertations). We found out that most of the studies were published between 2000 and 2016.

Three main research perspectives

Through the review, we determined that human-animal encounters in tourism studies have been discussed from three major perspectives:

  • Ethical perspective: This perspective deals with the moral deliberation about the use of animals in tourism. Three ethical theories are highlighted: Eco-centrism, utilitarianism (animal welfare) and animal rights.
  • Consumer perspective: This perspective approaches animals from the point of view of tourists. This stream of literature focuses on the attitudes towards animals, the role of animals in creating tourism experiences and the educational value of animal encounters.
  • Management perspectives: This perspective focuses on the management of spaces inhabited by animals (e.g. zoos, national parks, wildlife areas). It also draws attention to the coordination of different activities (e.g. hunting, bird watching, hiking) within the same physical space.

In general, most studies have focused on evaluating the role of animals in the production of different tourism experiences, as well as their rights and welfare in relation to the work they perform. These studies were located in Asia, Africa and Australia. Zoos and wildlife have also been a popular research focus. Few studies have examined animal agency as a part of human-animal tourism encounters. Also few attention has been given to the animal-based activities in a Nordic context.

Text: JC García-Rosell

 
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