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Memories, dreams and inventions: the evolution of Tasmania's tourism image 1803-1939


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Walker, MJ 2008 , 'Memories, dreams and inventions: the evolution of Tasmania's tourism image 1803-1939', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis examines the evolution of Tasmania's tourism image from 1803 to 1939 in a bid to demonstrate how tourism images provide valid and fertile vehicles to discern evolving constructions of social identity over time. It argues on a general level that immigration and tourism images can be read and understood as unique, dynamic 'social transcripts', best explained as discrete repositories of ideas, embedded with their own narrative and depth of meaning. As 'social transcripts' they move through time acting as both absorbers as well as purveyors of ideas and develop consciously and subconsciously within the host community reflecting ideas, ideologies and contemporary mentalities. They manifest in a variety of mediums but are particularly evident in tourism promotional material expressed in tourism epithets and logos.
Four important reasons are posited for why the use of the concept of tourism image is fruitful in the historical analysis of society, culture and identity in any tourism destination. First, tourism is an area of commercial activity that has particularly relied on advertising destination images to attract business and, therefore, is an excellent conceptual vehicle to discern image change over time. Second, tourism provides a tighter focus for a subject like image and identity, which by nature is an abstract area of enquiry. Third, the concept of 'image' penetrates all areas of the 'tourism system' and therefore allows the historian to incorporate a broad cross-section of the community in the analysis including people from different socio-economic groups, demographic distributions and geographical areas. Fourth, the disjuncture between the holistic image of a tourism destination and the tourism images projected by the host community produce a definitive gap wherein notions of identity, whether authentic or not, can be discerned.
In Tasmania, it is hypothesised that immigration and tourism images have historically been inextricably intertwined with the development of a Tasmanian identity because contained within them were refractions and elements of contemporary ideas with which Tasmanians wished to identify. In the twenty-first century, for example, Tasmania is being promoted as a 'Clean and Green' Island State. This is a 'holistic' image with which Tasmanians proudly identify since 'clean' and 'green' are terms highly valued by the world at large. Its provenance, however, has never been fully explored, even though previous images have had a powerful impact on the Island's political, economic and social development. This thesis seeks to redress this situation by employing historical methodology, narrative, description and analysis to explicate and chart the complex and convoluted evolution of Tasmanian tourism images as they metamorphosed layer by layer from immigration rhetoric in the early nineteenth century to tourism propaganda in the twentieth century.
In 1897 the esteemed American writer Mark Twain identified a peculiar paradox about Tasmania which informs this study. Contrasting the Island's beauty with its dark penal settlement history he described Tasmania as 'a sort of bringing of heaven and hell together'.1 In the same vein of thinking this study hypothesises that between 1803 and 1939 a Tasmanian identity evolved from a psychosocial mentality of shame, reflected in the image of the 'Dunghill of England', to a psychosocial mentality of honour, indicated by the image of the 'Jewel of the Commonwealth'. This evolution, it is argued, can be discerned through the use of thirteen significant tourism images employed to promote Tasmania. These included 'The Sanatorium of the South', 'The Garden of Australia', 'Appleland' and 'Tasmania the Wonderland'. Although some images were more visible than others, it is argued that as tourism images they portrayed refracted expressions of a desired Tasmanian identity and thus reflected and portrayed an historically-evolving consciousness of what it meant to be 'Tasmanian'.
Although the thesis ends at 1939 it is argued that immigration and tourism images projected by Tasmanians from settlement until this time were profoundly significant because they not only reflected a Tasmanian identity but also considerably informed a Tasmanian identity. Consequently, refractions of these images are still reflected in Tasmanian tourism propaganda in the present day and most certainly historically underpin Tasmania's current holistic image of 'Clean and Green'.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Walker, MJ
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2008 the author

Additional Information:

Culture and tourism, Tasmania, History

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