Travel advertisements are an ideal genre for analyzing the colonial desires that fuel modern global tourism. The Western myth of Shangri-la, a secret place of luxury and enlightenment, has been harnessed by an international tourist industry and attached by the Chinese government to a specific town in Yunnan, China. The myth of Shangri-la is not an innocent myth; it is a colonial story (once British) enacting a very real colonial project (now Chinese). I suggest that the current marketing of Shangri-la reanimates specific tropes found in travel ads for a variety of tourist destinations around the world; these ads exploit the tourist fantasy of stepping out of time, out of both modernity and the intractable process of aging and illness, a fantasy that reveals a particularly post-colonial idealization of conquered cultures. If we can identify the way cultural stories influence contemporary mass tourism, we can more fully explain the effects of specific images and beliefs on behavior and policy.
|Keywords:||Shangri-la, Travel, Tourism, Colonialism, Advertisements, China, Tibet, James Hilton, Lost Horizon, Utopia, Paradise, Time|
Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies Department, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, USA
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