Spain in the American Tourist Gaze




Sligh, Madeleine

Access rights

Worldwide access

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The anthropology of tourism is a prevalent section of anthropology that recognizes the important role tourists play not only in their home countries, but also their individual host countries. Tourists are instruments of globalization, as they inevitably affect the economy, people, environment and culture of the countries they visit. In order to compete in the tourism market and attract vital revenue, it is essential that host countries produce an image of a safe and interesting place to visit. In order to distinguish themselves from other destinations, host countries draw on the unique aspects of their culture and market them to tourists, thus distorting once authentic traditions. The result is a marketable, yet highly superficial setting that draws tourists in under the impression that this falsified performance is authentic and genuine. The American film industry has created a precedent that host countries must conform to if they expect to attract tourists. Spain is the perfect example of this, as the American film industry has exaggerated quaint Andalucían traditions and applied them to the entirety of the country, thus corrupting the true regional differences of Spain. The result of this is the romanticization of Andalucía by the Spanish government through commercials. The desperation of the Spanish economy to continue to attract tourists has led to the exploitation of Andalucían culture. In this thesis, through an analysis of the tourist market and my own ethnographical research, I will demonstrate that the image that American media and Spanish tourist propaganda have provided for tourists, thus what American tourists expect, does not coincide with the reality present in Spain.