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After-tourism revisited

Philippe Bourdeau
Cet article est une traduction de :
L’après-tourisme revisité [fr]
Autre(s) traduction(s) de cet article :
Una revisió del post-turisme [ca]


The “imperfect and provisional” after-tourism interpretative framework was proposed to give an account of tourism’s changing status, practices and representations. It was presented as a composite notion, intended to link together three mutant modalities of modern tourism, namely post-tourism(s), trans-tourism and hyper-tourism.
This paper applies a reflexive approach to the genesis, developmental stages, reception and evolutions of this proposal. It resituates the after-tourism perspective as being anchored in research directions that have been focused on the recomposition of relations between the here and the elsewhere and on the heuristic contribution of “critical” situations and practices. This approach has been nurtured by the author’s engagement in collectives positioned at different geographical and temporal levels. Moreover, it has emerged from a constant iteration between on the one hand normative and non-normative registers and on the other geographical, thematic, scientific and pedagogical anchors.

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Introduction and context

  • 1 See Bibliography at the end of the text.
  • 2 Translation of the title of issue 170, Nouvelles (?) Frontières du Tourisme, of the Actes de la Rec (...)

1The notion of after-tourism was set out at the end of the 2000s in a number of individual and collective publications, conference papers and lectures1. The most in-depth formulation can be found in the introductory chapter of the collective work Fin(?) et Confins du Tourisme (2013). Its aim was to give an account of the question of change in a recreational world marked by converging and contradictory movements. While authors such as Urry and Viard had provided an overview of the changing status and practices of tourism in their publications, it only really became a promising research area in the second half of the 2000s with some inspirational scientific events and publications (such as the two symposiums “The End of Tourism?” [Brighton, 2005] and “Tourism after Oil” [Dunedin, 2006]) and the idea of “new frontiers in tourism”2.

  • 3 Unless otherwise indicated, this and all subsequent quotations from French sources have been transl (...)

2There was renewed attention from observers on processes that went beyond the usual frameworks and categories of thought constructed by and for tourism. For my part, the most significant indicators of this process were in keeping with a set of recompositions of the here-elsewhere relationship. These included the “triumph of holidaymaker values3 (Viard, 2006), the tendency towards a generalised touristification, the growth in “useful” forms of tourism (solidarity, scientific, “humanitarian”, etc.), the increasing trend for residential choices with reference to landscape and recreational amenities, the surge in leisure and wellbeing practices at home (staycations), the conversion of destinations into everyday living spaces, the renewal of proximity practices, the endotism (Michel, 2005) and exotisation of the close-to-home (Matthey, 2007), the emergence of the figure of the “recre-resident” (Lajarge, 2006) and a proposal of the presential economy notion (Terrier, 2007). In this context, where the idea of a “good life” seemed akin to a “continuous holiday” (Urry, 2002, 160), it became increasingly less possible to approach tourism as an activity that was practised only for itself. It was no longer a simple cultural laboratory at the service of everyday life or an exception in space and time. In the same way, it seemed increasingly less relevant to approach residential choices solely in relation to work, and the experience of home could no longer be conceived as a mainly functional entity that contrasted with the key antithetic figures of the “tourist”, the “stay” and the “resort”. Although the classical categories and oppositions still prevailed in tourism policy and engineering (and this is still largely the case ten years on), the challenge for researchers at the time seemed to be to (re)think why and how tourism seemed to be fragmenting into niches and sectorial models and also, when the touristic reality was becoming increasingly central to lifestyles, economies and territories, why and how tourism was paradoxically becoming diluted, dissolved and diminished as a vector of specific spatiality, sociability and temporality and even as an object of study. Researchers had to reason in terms of the broader movement while also taking into account both the diversity of forms and forces that were driving the recreational field and the constant relationship at work between permanence and change.

  • 4 Rising criticism or even anti-tourism, the normalisation of conflicts in tourist places and organis (...)

3One of the many issues researchers faced with this approach was having to keep in mind all the potential factors, indicators and indices of the heterogeneous changes observed in the status of tourism, its practices and its space–time relationship with regard to both a global–societal and sectorial evolution. These included amenity migrations and new residential practices, a questioning of touristic utopia and uchronia4, the search for continuity between holiday practices and daily practices, the touristification of ordinary places, recreational neo-situationism and experimental travel, new city–nature relations, overcoming the logic of the unity of time, place and action embodied by the resort reference model, the revival of tourism through travelling practices, the rise of environmental, social and ethical responsibility issues and the tourist’s “identity crisis”. These factors have been so conducive to fertile inventiveness (urban exploration, useful tourism, participatory tourism, creative tourism, etc.) that they have extended beyond or even reversed the (geo)cultural frameworks, norms and codes constructed by and for tourism, so much so in fact that they have invited us to think more in terms of alternatives to tourism rather than alternative tourism. The solution adopted by researchers that led to the proposal of the notion of after-tourism took the form of a speculative interpretative framework that attempted to make sense of the diversifications and avatars of the touristic reality in contemporary societies.

4The construction of this interpretative framework was based on a point of reference that risked (following expeditious shortcuts) considering tourism in the literal sense (which had emerged with modernity) as having an internal logic in which the notion of access to an “elsewhere” marked a break with the “here” of everyday life and where the ideas of a holiday, a discovery or a tour were central (both essential and satisfactory) to the conception of the tourist experience. This would in some way have made this a first-degree tourism. The driving force of the political and socioeconomic intervention corresponding to the development and support of this type of tourism is thought to be part of a highly polarised and polarising logic of ad hoc planning and development, where the main heritage attraction (monument, famous site) and the resort are seen as emblematic.

5Based on this initial frame of reference, the concept of after-tourism has been developed, with reference to a variety of social science works, as a composite notion intended to highlight and formulate the following three mutant modalities of modern tourism:

6Post-tourism, which is characteristic of postmodernity (Urry, 2002; Uriely, 1997; Feifer, 1985), can be defined as having an internal logic in which play, oblique posturing and ludic transgression interact with artifice, assumed inauthenticity and pastiche, the clash of opposites, provocation and even cynicism. In this second-degree tourism, the main attraction is no longer thought to be solely of a geographical, landscape or heritage nature but is above all seen as being centred on the sensation and experience offered by events, shows and festivals or by unfettered, hybrid recreational experiences where the marketing of novelty and entertainment are regarded as playing a key role. Leisure parks, spectacles, shows, events, unusual “spots” and the ephemeral are believed to characterise this post-tourism in a spatiotemporal mode that is similar to that of the enclave;

7Hyper-tourism, which was conceived from the notion of hypermodernity, is a technological, geographical and cultural intensification of the meaning and forms of tourism pushed to their limits or even to saturation point in terms of ostentatious consumption, psychological release and a break with common sense. Driven by a “further, higher, stronger, more expensive” one-upmanship in terms of mobility, high-tech and luxury, it is seen as accentuating the utopia of insularity and touristic otherness through prestigious over-developments and services, ultra-sophisticated facilities and oversized events supported by an essentially instrumental rationality (“how?”) in an often elitist logic that can even venture into extraterritoriality with, for example, new cruises, space tourism, palace stays and giant shopping or recreational centres.

8Trans-tourism, which echoes hypothetical transmodernity (Ateljevic, 2008; Corneloup, 2010), goes “beyond” tourism. It is driven by a transcendence of the usual borders and categories with the aim of exploring neglected or repressed othernesses. This third-degree tourism, which is apt to be normative and part of a finalised rationality (“for what?”), is thought to refer to practices and representations of recreation that are marked by ethical voluntarism (social, environmental, economic) and a search for existential coherence based on the (inter)mixing of the recreational universe with daily life, agriculture, heritage, art(isanship), education, personal development and even spirituality. Driven by a logic of learning collectives and territories, it is seen as a kind of dialogue between everyday life and tourism, between amateur and professional registers and between ordinary places and tourist places while also being marked by a great diversity of practices ranging from proximity to long-distance travelling and including frugality, aestheticisation and militancy.

9It was necessary to point out from the outset that such a draft classification was of course very reductive and that it had many limitations in terms of both empirically validating the variables and managing their overlaps and ambivalences. I also had to stress the fact there was a cohabitation (with variations in space and time) between these forms and active forces in the tourist field, which would all have to be considered. With these caveats in mind, the objective was to contribute to opening, encouraging, provoking and consolidating interest in a renewed approach to a recreational reality that, throughout its history, has been constantly engaged in multiple processes of changing practices, societal transitions and recomposed relationships with the elsewhere.

1. A “zigzag journey”

10The path that has led to the formulation of an after-tourism approach can be described as situated at the juncture not only of an individual and collective journey but also of an iteration between thematic and generalist interests. A succinct new reading of this journey has revealed the (res)sources and materials that formed its foundations.

1.1. At the risk of individual introspection

11As an academic, my profile is that of a thematician whose work is very marked by sectorial orientations in the field of tourism and mountain sports. Notwithstanding the occasional foray prompted by curiosities such as music, this thematic tropism has been a constant throughout my work, including my thesis on the territoriality of French mountain guides and my Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches thesis on contemporary urban societies’ relationship with the elsewhere (Bourdeau, 2009; Canova, Bourdeau and Soubeyran, 2014). Beyond the thematic and chronological variations in the subjects and terrains I have studied, this personal experience of geography can be described as one that has prioritised cultural approaches, has sought to mobilise (relatively) new or interstitial objects and has been inclined towards critical approaches concerning the rationalities of liberal globalisation.

12Over the past decade, this research has led me either individually or in collaboration with others to subjects such as the degrowth in tourism (Bourdeau and Berthelot, 2008), the depoliticisation of tourism (Bourdeau, 2013d), amenity migrations (Bourdeau, 2009; Bourdeau, 2013c; Martin, Bourdeau and Daller, 2013), dissidence, counter-cultures and recreational heterotopias (Bourdeau and Lebreton, 2013; Evrard and Bourdeau, 2015), recreational travelling (Corneloup and Bourdeau, 2008), the in-between and transition processes (Bourdeau, Corneloup and Mao, 2011; Bourdeau, 2016a), the impact of climate change on tourism (Bourdeau, 2009f et 2017), creative processes at the level of tourism territories and trades (Bourdeau, 2011; Corneloup and Bourdeau, 2016) and the reinvention of tourism through its peripheries (Bourdeau, 2012).

13These research focuses have been fed by an assiduous reading of the reflexive and critical literature on tourism (notably Burgelin, 1967; Laurent, 1973; Cazes, 1967, 1992; Krippendorf, 1987; Hillali, 2003; Fennell, 2006; Caire and Le Masne 2007; Cousin, 2007; Tribe, 2009) and by dialogues with authors such as Franck Michel (2003) and Rodolphe Christin (2008), whose intellectual output has been crucial despite the fact they now work outside the academic field. In addition to this literature, which is dysphoric in scope (Vergopoulos, 2006), the increasing output from the social sciences on issues of creativity and innovation has established itself as a very useful counterpoint for thinking about the emergence of alternative development models beyond just critical assessments. Without wishing to cite too many references, it is important to note De Certeau (1990), Boltanski and Chiapello (1999), Alter (2000), Jambes (2003) and Klein and Harrison (2007) in this regard.

14Given my profile and the broadly outlined trajectory above, the formulation of an approach to after-tourism has therefore been nurtured by a twofold plan, which has involved first increasing the level of generality in order to overcome the obstacles of a thematic subspecialisation and second developing an interpretative framework that is as non-normative as possible of mutations in the touristic reality in order to move beyond a critical tropism towards confinement and “facility”. This undertaking has been developed within the context of an educational, professional and academic melting pot.

15My educational activities through different university courses (Bachelor’s degree, IUP5 diploma in territorial planning and development, Master’s degree in territorial sciences) initially played a central and constant role because of the need for exploration, elaboration, perspective, transmission and axiological neutrality. Very often, links were attempted, intuitions emerged, terminology was drafted and empirical materials were consolidated, both during these courses and within the context of supervised work, seminars and round tables (examples of topics include tourism after oil, the neo-heritagisation of tourist spots, the tourism of ordinary places, recreational laboratories and the question of values in tourism) as well as at supervised workshops on the ground, which I have attended assiduously (examples of topics include transmodern tourism in the Vercors and tourism of the interstices in the Pays des Écrins6). Ultimately, notions have become refined in interaction with students’ questions and influenced by their own often inspired and inspiring brainwaves.

16In addition and as a complement to my educational engagements, regular exchanges with stakeholders in the field (local authorities, development agents, consultants, tourism professionals, etc.) and frequent interventions in round table sessions and meetings for socioprofessionals have provided very stimulating incentives to synthesise my work, to put forward efficient categories of thought and to illustrate topics to make them more accessible. My long-term investment in a number of these fields has created the conditions for a basic dialogue with the interlocutors in touch with the situation on the ground, for whom the transition from pure empiricism to conceptualisation can paradoxically prove very fluid. I recall passionate discussions in 2006–2008 with local authority officials and development agents in Argentière-la-Bessée (Hautes-Alpes) on the concept of amenity migrations as well as academic exchanges with Laurence Moss and Manfred Perlik in anticipation of the idea of amenity migration being introduced into Europe, including its French version.

17The third component of this approach has been more academic in nature. The main contribution to this third component has come from the work carried out for my Habilitation à Diriger des Recherches thesis, which I defended in 2004. This played a big role in increasing generality, (re)building coherence among different research orientations, strengthening the links between the empirical data and the theory and consolidating intellectual sources in geography and the social sciences. The thesis, entitled “Territoires du Hors-Quotidien; Une Géographie Culturelle du Rapport à l’ailleurs dans les Sociétés Urbaines Contemporaines” (beyond everyday territories: a cultural geography of contemporary urban societies’ relationship with the elsewhere), was based on sports tourism in mountain and nature contexts. This research allowed me to formalise and discuss a set of geocultural and geohistorical links. While the idea of after-tourism is not explicit in this study, the seeds of the notion were nevertheless clearly sown in my development of approaches in terms both of trajectories, recompositions, redesigns and reconfigurations and of place, practice and cultural values. In addition, there was a heightened focus in this thesis on spatiotemporal discontinuities, on the processes of connection between the social and the spatial and on the growing affirmation of ethical, environmental and political issues. By examining the rise of the in-between in terms of space (sender–receiver spaces, touristic–non-touristic spaces, artificial–natural spaces, developed–wild spaces), time (everyday–non-everyday) and the social (work–leisure), I was able to study in depth the contributions and limitations of interpretative frameworks in terms of economic (Fordism–post-Fordism) and historical regimes (modernity–postmodernity) alongside the rather late debate on postmodernism in geography (Chivallon, 2004).

1.2. A determining collective base

  • 7 A multidisciplinary social science research journal on recreational practices in nature http://www. (...)
  • 8 Écologie Corporelle dans les Activités Physiques, Adaptées et Sportives (body ecology in physical, (...)

18It is evident from a substantial proportion of the publications cited above that the collective dimension has been constant, involving a number of involvements in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research teams. Since the end of the 1990s, the core of this dynamic has been the scientific collective formed within the UMR PACTE research unit with Jean Corneloup (sport and physical activity science and technology) and Pascal Mao (geography). In many ways, this has formed the central foundation of all stages and directions in my research activity over the past two decades. Above all, it has provided permanent intellectual stimulation in the systematic construction of intelligibility frameworks for socio-spatial and cultural processes, including the “forms of development” framework, the “indoor-aroundoor-outdoor-wildoor/underdoor” gradient (Bourdeau, Corneloup, Mao, Boutroy, 2004; Mao, Corneloup, Bourdeau, 2004, 2013) and the recreational transmodernity framework (Corneloup, 2009). In addition to implementing coordinated research programmes involving students, doctoral students and colleagues, this collective has invested heavily in facilitating research on mountain and nature recreational practices, first as part of the network (which now publishes the journal Nature et Récréation7) and subsequently as part of the international research group GDRI ECAPAS8, led by the philosopher Bernard Andrieux. Since 2000, 25 seminars and colloquia have been organised within this flexible framework, mostly on the Pradel site in the Ardèche, which is our “base camp” and which presents a favourable place for “convivial science” and for extending invitations to international researchers. This context is coupled with all the intellectual exchanges that have been integrated into the context of thesis framing. In particular, the theses of Libéra Berthelot (2012) on recreational travelling and Niels Martin (2013) on amenity migrations have marked significant stages in the process because they focused on the theoretical and empirical application of the after-tourism perspective.

19Another decisive source of healthy rivalry in the years 2003–2007 was the development of the Réseau Interdisciplinaire et Interrégional en Tourisme (interdisciplinary and interregional network on tourism), or R2IT, which covered the Grand-Sud-Est area of France (and a little beyond this). The liveliness of the exchanges during the seminars and conferences held regularly on the issues of knowledge and collective intelligence in the field of tourism (alongside Pierre Vitte, Philippe Bachimon, Liliane Bensahel, Isabelle Lefort, Isabelle Frochot, Rachid Amirou, Charles Pigeassou, Jean-Michel Dewailly, Christophe Gauchon, Véronique Peyrache-Gadeau, Emmanuelle Marcelpoil, Hugues François and Vincent Vlès, among others) have contributed greatly to encouraging the development of epistemological perspectives and conceptual interpretative frameworks at the intersection of the social sciences represented within the network (history, geography, urban planning, sport and physical activity science, law, economics, sociology, management sciences, etc.). The work to set up the networked Master’s in “Tourisme Durable et Dynamiques Territoriales” (TDDT) (sustainable tourism and territorial dynamics) in 2006, offered at the universities of Clermont-Ferrand, Avignon, Lyon, Chambéry and Grenoble, represented a milestone in this dynamic, particularly since I was brought in to take over its direction at Grenoble from Pierre Vitte, who had been appointed director of the Italo-French University. It should be noted that in parallel to the R2IT network, GRIL Tourisme (Groupe de Recherche Interdisciplinaire Local sur le Tourisme – local interdisciplinary research group on tourism), led by the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme-Alpes and co-facilitated by Liliane Bensahel and Jean-Pierre Mounet, has played a highly complementary role at local level in meetings between Grenoble and Chambéry researchers in its discussions of issues during regular seminars such as new residentialities (2006) and the degrowth in tourism (2007). These researchers, supported by colleagues from Lyon and Pau, organised the “Fin(?) et Confins du Tourisme” conference (a very inspired title from Philippe Bachimon) in May 2009, which undeniably marked a high point in our collective reflection.

20Finally, in terms of collective contributions to the formulation of the after-tourism approach, I owe a great debt to Axel Borsdorf and Roland Psenner, then heads of the departments of geography and ecology, respectively, at the University of Innsbruck, for all their encouragement. Between 2006 and 2011, these two colleagues regularly welcomed me as a speaker at both internal seminars and international conferences in Austria and Italy and offered me publication opportunities (Bourdeau 2008, 2009f, 3013c). Above all, they encouraged me to see my post-tourism non-normative conceptual formulations through to the end.

1.3. The conference that acted as the trigger

21While the environment described above summarises the conditions of a progressive “fermentation” of the notion of after-tourism, its elucidation only came with the preparation and running of the melting pot that was the 2009 “Fin(?) et Confins du Tourisme” conference and with the developments that came in its wake. Looking back at the different versions of my oral and written contributions in preparation for and following the conference (call for papers, introduction, scientific review, introductory chapter to the book [François, Bourdeau, Bensahel (eds), 2009]), it is clear the conference was to act as a trigger in a number of ways.

  • 9 Call for papers, Fin(?) et confins du tourisme, 26-27 May 2009, Grenoble.

22Although the purpose of the conference was clearly oriented from a critical perspective, which was presented as “paradoxical in the sense of a proposal that goes against the dominant doxa, and aiming to highlight the interpretation of ethical, axiological and ideological contradictions, tensions and conflicts between the practices and models around which the field of tourism is organised9, the formulation work I undertook subsequently consisted in distancing myself from a subject that would have been too marked critically to take into account the plurality and coexistence of the ideologies, cultures and rationalities at work in the recreational field. What I finally retained from the initial positioning was however the heuristic value of a mutations, discontinuities and tensions reasoning in the evolution of the cultural and organisational practices and models of tourism.

23The terminology collectively mobilised during the conference was based on the notion of post-tourism (in the sense of postmodern tourism, particularly in reference to the works of Urry and his followers), as demonstrated by Girard’s outstanding paper, “Faut-il raccorder une théorie générale de la post-modernité à une théorie à moyenne portée du post-tourisme?” (should we connect a general theory of postmodernity to a middle-range theory of post-tourism?) (Girard, 2013). The papers, the exchanges and the discussions during and after the conference led me to reformulate an after-tourism approach on the one hand to try to avoid the polysemic obstacle of having two meanings of “post-tourism” (in the sense both of the residential transition of destinations and of postmodern tourism) and on the other to formulate the plurality of tourism regimes that is active in our contemporary societies in a common interpretative framework. In the early version of this initial framework, dated 2009, there were three regimes, namely tourism, post-tourism and trans-tourism, which referred to the paradigms of modernity, postmodernity and transmodernity, respectively. In 2002–2003, on the initiative of Jean Corneloup, we started to work on characterising the sociocultural trends that described the changes in mountain and nature sports. After several years of analysing the movement of sports cultures from the perspective of a dual tension between modernity and postmodernity, Corneloup gradually introduced a third cultural movement that was in the process of becoming established, which he initially labelled “eco-culture” before adopting the idea of transmodernity, which at the time had only been minimally mobilised in Europe. Our first drafts date back most notably to 2005 with presentations at the World Congress on Snow and Mountain Tourism in Andorra, reporting on the evolution of winter sports since the early 1980s. I illustrated this topic with advertising images, not only to make it less dry for an audience largely made up of non-academic experts and actors but also because I had just finished a research study on the representations of nature in the advertising discourse on mountain sports equipment and clothing (Bourdeau, 2005) and had consequently compiled corpuses of images, which proved to be fruitful in analysis. In parallel with Corneloup’s deepening of the notion of recreational transmodernity (2009, 2011, 2012) and after finishing the introductory chapter to Fin(?) et Confins du Tourisme in 2011, I introduced the fourth regime of “hyper-tourism”. It seemed that this form, which had been less active (or neglected) up to this point, now had to be taken into account given its obvious intensification in the touristic and recreational dynamic.

2. Work in progress: from the reception of the works to the second work

  • 10 These "precautions for use" take up almost 10% of the introductory chapter to Fin (?) et confins du (...)

24From the start, the after-tourism proposal was accompanied by caveats and qualifications that aimed at underlining its partial and evolving nature and counterbalancing a univocal or hegemonic interpretation of it10. By presenting it from the outset as an “imperfect and temporary interpretative framework” (Bourdeau, 2013a), I was stressing its limitations and non-exhaustive nature in terms of understanding the dynamics at work in the field of tourism. The framework involved in particular matching input that focused on mutations and transformations by taking into account permanencies and renewals. In addition, by postulating the plurality of different possible modes and interpretative frameworks depending on the disciplinary inputs and fields retained, I also took care to specify that its “objective was not to create a doctrine, school of thought or touristic prophecy”.

25We can see in these initial circumspections the idea of a “middle-range theory”, as proposed by Merton (Saint-Martin, 2013), which means we deliberately restricted ourselves to a questioning angle rather than aiming for totalising explanations. Girard rightly questioned this approach in his oral and written contribution (Girard, 2013) to our reflection on Fin (?) et Confins du Tourisme.

26Finally, it may be useful to clarify that this was a conceptual project, as Bensahel pointed out in her foreword to the book (Bensahel, 2013). I have always considered and referred to after-tourism as a notion or preconcept (in the Piagian sense) rather than as an actual “concept”. The idea of an “interpretative device” could also be used to characterise this frame of mind that is consistent with the expression work in progress. This host of precautions has not however been enough to prevent and overcome questions, objections and misunderstandings, which have mainly been expressed verbally in exchanges at conferences and seminars.

27The first obstacle encountered by the after-tourism proposal has been a frequent reticence on the part of social scientists regarding anything that resembles a classification proposal perceived as presenting a totalising categorisation risk. This reservation has been accompanied by a mistrust of concepts and categories that are rarely discussed within the scientific community or which are only put forward by a small number of researchers. In this respect, the way in which after-tourism is based on insecurely delineated and somewhat “exotically” labelled grand paradigms borrowed from little-known authors can be perplexing and can even give rise to a suspicion of useless intellectual one-upmanship. While, according to Bruno Latour’s formula, “we have never been modern”, there is nevertheless a certain consensus on the notion of modernity that makes it possible to share a common understanding. This also applies in much the same way to the idea of postmodernity, which has been widely appropriated (not without controversy) by the social sciences over the past three decades. However, there is no consensus on the labelling of the late avatars of modernity. A number of competing notions have been forged and used by different authors, for example, overmodernity (Augé, 1992), ultramodernity (Giddens, 1994), late or liquid modernity (Baumann, 2000) and reflexive modernity or second modernity (Beck, 2001).

28In this fairly unconsolidated semantic and epistemological field, which has its leading intellectual figures, the notions of transmodernity and hypermodernity lack development, recognition and discussion. This makes them tricky to use and moreover means their use always has to be justified, a fortiori when applied in the recreational field. This relative discretion primarily concerns the idea of transmodernity, which is mainly referenced in the publications of Dussel (1992) and Grosfoguel (2005). Dussel, an Argentine philosopher exiled in Mexico, is a member of the Latin American group “Modernity/Coloniality”, which promotes a situated critical thinking elaborated from the notion of border thinking. A little known thinker (in France at least), he accords transmodernity the function of a “utopian decolonising project (...) where the denied otherness of subordinate cultures is realised”, thus positioning it both as “beyond modernity [and as] incorporating its emancipatory character” and as a critique of “postmodern nihilism” marred by Eurocentrism (Dussel, 1992).

29While this theoretical construction to tourism has been applied in a number of works (which have been published in a total of six languages), it remains limited to a very small number of researchers (Ateljevic 2008; Corneloup, 2010). Transmodernity possesses a particularly stimulating heuristic and explanatory capacity, illustrated notably by Chiara Kirschner’s doctoral thesis on “le projet transmoderne dans les itinérances récréatives” (the transmodern project in recreational travelling) (Kirschner, 2017). More broadly, the contribution made by the transmodern hypothesis in Dussell’s sense lies in its re-examination of the political dimension of tourism and in its reconnection with cultural issues, which can be illustrated by three possible dimensions. First, there is an affirmation of a “beyond tourism” with a transcendence of borders and categories and a set of fusions between the recreational register and other forms of relationships with the world (work, art, citizenship, commitments and solidarities, personal development, spirituality, inhabiting, health). Second, there is an affirmation of values, reflexivity and voluntarist choices in the fields of the environment, ethics, economy and culture. The third dimension is one of ethical primacy, including in terms of self-regulation, in relation to the model of economic success.

30The notion of hypermodernity is much more visible in the social sciences, although it is rarely mobilised. It first appeared in France in the parallel publications of Lipovestky (2004, 2006) and Aubert (2004). More recently, it has been developed in expositions on, among others, the urban world (Lussault, 2017) and the field of travel (Jauréguibéry and Lachance, 2016). For all these authors, hypermodernity is a profoundly dual and paradoxical concept. It is both a radicalisation of modernity and a mechanism for exacerbated reflexivity. The meaning of hypermodernity that emerges from these works is that it is more or less on the same level as the notions of “late modernity” and “overmodernity”. As such, it encompasses the duality between what I distinguish here as “hypermodernity” (in the sense of the exacerbation of modernity) and “transmodernity”.

31Other sources of surprise, misunderstanding and discussion that have emerged from the reactions of and exchanges with colleagues, students and professional and institutional interlocutors have focused on questions and objections that have often required clarification and qualification.

32While the distinction between post-tourism in the sense of the transition and residential reconversion of tourist resorts and regions and post-tourism in the sense of post-modern tourism has been quite simply stated, it is coupled with an imperative to differentiate between “post” and “after”. This requires systematic reminders and is neither very fluid nor very gratifying when one wants to avoid being too abstruse. A mention of post-tourism can be ambiguously received, especially since there is the suggestion of an uncertain use of these concepts in a publication I contributed to11.

33Another recurring obstacle has been an excessively sequential interpretation of the “forms” that make up after-tourism. I am therefore regularly reminded that the proposed interpretative framework is not (just) a linear succession of periods or stages in a cultural and organisational trajectory and that after-tourism regimes (even if they are part of a temporality that can be delimited through overlaps) coexist as active forces not only among themselves but also alongside modern tourism. Moreover, in the context of the 2009 Grenoble conference and of the various concomitant publications that emerged from the 2005 “The End of Tourism?” conference in Brighton (Burns, Bibbings, 2009; Gale, 2009), after-tourism is frequently interpreted as eschatology or collapsology. However, after-tourism is in no way the “end” of tourism but rather the end of the idea we have of it, including with regard to the questions that we no longer ponder.

  • 12 This is a French concept referring to proposed development areas that have been occupied by militan (...)

34Aside from these obstacles, the highly accessible after-tourism interpretative framework lends itself well to a continuous overview of the dynamics that constantly update recreational reality in its relationship to the elsewhere. These include: a reinforcement of the centrality and diffraction of tourism in lifestyles through the emergence of references to the art of living and inhabiting; an increasing porosity of the borders between tourism and personal development/fulfilment (transformation tourism); an exacerbation of critical phenomena such as climate change and the post-oil era and an increasing politicisation of tourism-related issues (tensions, controversies, Zones à Défendre12); a renewal of the search for justifications for the act of travelling, such as scientific tourism; an increase in dysphoric forms of tourism (last chance tourism, doomsday tourism, darktourism); and a fragmentation of practices into (infra)tourist niches. These are all after-tourism premises, indicators and indices that are expanding and inviting interpretations that have been increasingly tackled from the point of view of going off the beaten track (Delaplace, Gravari-Barbas, 2016) or having an experience (Frochot, Batat, 2013; Decroly, 2015; Bachimon, Decroly, Knafou, 2016).

35The empirical work aimed at applying and fleshing out the operationality of the after-tourism interpretative framework is ongoing. Notably, it has enabled us to rework the link between cultural change and generational effects in the mountain sports professions in light of the diffusion of the transmodern paradigm (Corneloup and Bourdeau, 2001, 2015). This work continues to understand how the force of the hypermodern imagination in contemporary tourism intervenes in the transition process by intensifying the debates that introduce both revealing and dramatising factors of interacting paradigms. Indeed, there is a very active tension between transmodern and hypermodern regimes visible in the conception and appropriation of recreational practices at the level of both supply and demand. Is this a quest for appeased harmony or experiential one-upmanship? Contemplative mode or overactive mode? Immersion in nature or shopping sessions and amusement parks? Naturality or turnkey development solutions? Intimate DIY or large luxury facilities? Heritage and cultural festivals or unbridled clubbing? Family and friends conviviality or collective orgy? Human mediation or all-digital mediation? Digital detox or Wifi and 4G everywhere? “Soft” water (paddleboarding, kite-surfing, kayaking, sailing, etc. on lakes) or “hard” water (speedboat, off-shore, jet-ski, water-ski)?

36Of course, these oppositions are not exclusive, but they represent cultural worlds and values that are in tension and which underpin multiple contradictory injunctions. Accelerate or slow down? Innovation or caution? Bigger is better or small is beautiful? Growth or degrowth? Excess or moderation? Hyperconnection or disconnection? Further away or closer? Prometheus or Icarus? We can thus see the emergence of the contours of a dilemma that is both structuring and undecidable when it comes to contemporary societies between what some authors refer to as a “consumerist”, “pro-environmental” norm (Bourg et al., 2016). The cohabitation between these forms and active forces must be considered if we are to grasp the dynamics of transformation at work. In this respect, the dissensus between hypertouristic and transtouristic regimes is a transitional driving force albeit the road is a bumpy one, while tourism is now identified as one of the (f)actors of the Anthropocene (Steffen et al., 2015).

After-tourism, and after that?

37In accordance with the coordinators’ suggestions for this issue, this text seeks to apply a reflexive approach in a revisit of the genesis, developmental stages, reception and evolutions over the past decade of the proposal of the after-tourism notion. Conducted in an open and introspective manner, this approach endeavoured to avoid the two obstacles of autobiography and self-censorship. It is above all an invitation to new exchanges, discussions and constructive criticisms. The sole objective of this after-tourism interpretative framework, which is still considered to be imperfect and provisional, was to try to work towards an understanding of the disruption of the usual categories of thought relating to the tourism–recreation reality. The pivotal point of its elucidation at the juncture of the 2000s and 2010s has lain in an intellectual movement that has been driven by a series of social science conferences and publications, which have been nurtured by the conviction of a deep mutation in the practices and even the very status of tourism. Hence why there are more than 20 occurrences of the term “dépassement” (going beyond) in the introduction to the book published in the wake of the “Fin (?) et Confins du Tourisme” conference. Far from adopting a totalising or relativistic approach, the idea of after-tourism has sought to highlight the plurality of possible meanings and rationalities in order to tackle this interpretative stage by endeavouring to situate and represent the forces that act within the recreational field, including through their points of tension and connection.

38This revisit has revealed that the after-tourism framework appears to have been anchored in personal research directions (which have been focused on the one hand on the recomposition of relations between the here and the elsewhere and on the other on the heuristic contribution of “critical” situations and practices) that have focused among other things on crisis situations. It has also been nurtured to a large extent by my engagement in a longstanding working group and through my networking with collectives positioned at different geographical and temporal levels. Finally, it has emerged as a result of a constant iteration between normative and non-normative registers, geographical and thematic anchors and global and more generalist registers. Empirically speaking, the mountain sports tourism sector has provided me with data that have been particularly fruitful not least because, against a backdrop of climate and cultural change, this sector is faced with drastic adaptations both in summer and winter. Within this sectorial framework, after-tourism also acts as a demonstration, transmission and exchange tool with students and socioprofessional tourism stakeholders (local authorities, development agents, NGOs, etc.), not for the purpose of providing services but rather for long-term dialogue and collaboration. As such, a subject that is in some respects situated (in the sense of grounded theory) quite peripherally in the academic and epistemological field can contribute to testing out and encouraging more generic approaches.

  • 13 This includes a commitment to initial and ongoing training through the Masters in Conception Et Dév (...)
  • 14 Introduced in France in 1998 with the publication of the work of a forward-looking group chaired by (...)

39An explicit objective of after-tourism is to deal with the convergence of factors of recreational field recompositions without masking their permanence and contradictions in order to account for the diversity and potential (ant)agonism of identifiable dynamics. Its connection here with the profoundly dialogical character of the transition phenomena seems to be effective, although there is still work to be done. The transition appears to be a reorganisation under stress (Vlès, Bouneau, 2016), which foregrounds debates on legitimate and relevant ways of conceiving and building the future of (after-)tourism in anticipation and in keeping with the cultural, climate, energy, technological, economic and political factors of a changing world. We approach this transition (Corneloup, Falaix, 2017; Corneloup, Bourdeau, Mao, 2018) as a three-fold conceptual, empirical and pedagogical project13. As well as the notion of transition, the mediatised and scientific omnipresence of the theme of the reinvention of tourism14 is just one marker among many of the backdrop that props up the after-tourism approach. At the same time, the profusion of practices and the intensification of the call to otherness that characterise contemporary societies no longer mask the “critical” point at which tourism is placed. “Critical” here should be understood in both senses of the term, in other words not just as a criticism of tourism practices, operators and entities but also as the criticality of the tourism sector confronted with climate, energy and economic vulnerabilities. Faced with all these issues, the turmoil in tourism’s transformative practices can be approached from the very productive angle of “recreational laboratories” (Corneloup, 2016; Corneloup, Falaix, 2818). The challenge is therefore to document what, where and how recreational practices contribute to the affirmation of utopias based on the experience of ways of life, inhabiting and working and of relationships to the economy, nature, space and time (Bourdeau, 2016). Here again, the mountain terrain provides fertile research ground. For example, mountain passes and shelters, over and above their primary statuses and functions, are very illustrative through the convergence of the practices and populations they are subject to. While this observation may still be very hypothetical, by showing spontaneous and/or constructed experimentations of the diversification and organisation of non-resort tourism, it potentially combines the notions of after-resort (Bourdeau, 2009b) and after-tourism. Work in progress.

40Author’s publications on the notion of post-tourism


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1 See Bibliography at the end of the text.

2 Translation of the title of issue 170, Nouvelles (?) Frontières du Tourisme, of the Actes de la Recherche en Sciences Sociales, December 2007, coordinated by Bertrand Réau in collaboration with Saskia Cousin, Franck Poupeau and Yves Winkin.

3 Unless otherwise indicated, this and all subsequent quotations from French sources have been translated.

4 Rising criticism or even anti-tourism, the normalisation of conflicts in tourist places and organisations, debates over (de)mobilities, the recovery of tourism through geopolitical and security issues, etc.

5 Institut Universitaire Professionnalisé, a university institute offering professional and technological training.


7 A multidisciplinary social science research journal on recreational practices in nature""

8 Écologie Corporelle dans les Activités Physiques, Adaptées et Sportives (body ecology in physical, adapted and sports activities).

9 Call for papers, Fin(?) et confins du tourisme, 26-27 May 2009, Grenoble.

10 These "precautions for use" take up almost 10% of the introductory chapter to Fin (?) et confins du tourisme (Bourdeau, 2013a)..

11 See and

12 This is a French concept referring to proposed development areas that have been occupied by militants to prevent environmental damage.

13 This includes a commitment to initial and ongoing training through the Masters in Conception Et Développement d’Espaces Sportifs et Récréatifs Innovants (design and development of innovative sports and recreational spaces) at the Université Clermont-Auvergne and the Master’s in Tourisme Innovation Transition at the Université Grenoble Alpes.

14 Introduced in France in 1998 with the publication of the work of a forward-looking group chaired by Jean Viard.

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Philippe Bourdeau

Université Grenoble-Alpes, UMR PACTE

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