The purpose of this paper is to tackle the issue of the meaning of tourism as it is being crippled by the economic crisis in Greece.
To do so, it brings together the findings of three different fieldworks related to tourism in Athens in times of crisis. Each one of these focuses on a specific player of tourism: a linguistic and semiological analysis led mainly on travel guides and ad campaigns deals with the industry of tourism; a linguistic analysis of tourists’ posts on a French web forum deals with the tourists themselves; and an ethnographical approach of alternative guided tours of Athens focuses on local players (associations and cooperatives offering out of the beaten tracks tours).
The whole study reveals that there is a misunderstanding between the industry and the consumers toward what the tourist practice should mean: whereas the tourists are in search of an ethical meaning, the industry claims there is no room for such issues. The alternative players, however, offer a political perspective that embraces the ethical issues raised by tourists.
They thus might, in the end, show us the way a so-called “civil society” could also have its own role to perform in tourism.
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