Blog Archives

Integrating ‘Big Data’ into the Analysis of the Dynamic Spatial Patterns of Hotel Development

The spatio-temporal relationship between tourism product similarity and spatial proximity has not been adequately studied empirically because of data and methodological limitations. New forms of data available at high temporal frequencies and low levels of spatial aggregation, together with large commercial data and expanding computational ability allow a variety of theories, old and new to be explored and evaluated more meticulously and systemically than has been possible hitherto. This study uses spatial visualization and data harvesting to synthesize a variety of data for exploring the evolution of hotel clusters and co-location synergies in US cities. The findings question the reliability of the current data to be used for identifying and analyzing the formation of tourist destination clusters and their dynamics. We conclude that synthesizing social media and large commercial data can generate a more robust database for research on tourism development and planning and improving opportunities for the examining spatial patterns of tourism activities. We also devise a protocol to combine ‘social media’ sources with big commercial sources for tourism
development and planning, and eventually other sectors.

Using Capitalism to Save Socialism: International Tourism in Havana, Cuba

Following the fall of the Soviet Bloc in 1989, a somber Fidel Castro informed the Cuban
people that their Revolution hovered on the brink of disaster. Faced with an
unprecedented economic crisis and few options, the Cuban government, reluctantly
returned to international tourism as the foundation for economic salvation. Since then
international tourism has multiplied fifteen-fold. While reintroducing tourism may have
saved Cuba from a political and economic catastrophe – foreign tourists, mostly from
capitalist countries, have enabled Cuba and the Revolution to survive – this use of
capitalism to save socialism has also produced formidable challenges. In particular, the
emergence of a consumer culture and the subsequent ‘‘dollarization’’ of the economy, pose
a grave threat to Cuban society as products are increasingly evaluated, purchased, and
consumed on the basis of their symbolic content and meaning for social status.
Nonetheless, it will be argued in this paper that since Cuban society remains anchored by
highly functional, stable, well-organized neighborhoods and a flourishing, innovative
informal economy, embedded values of cooperation may serve as a counteractive force to
the rise of a culture of consumerism and materialism. Based on this premise, the paper
concludes with an examination of three possible scenarios for the future of tourism in