Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism

Elizabeth Becker. Simon & Schuster, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-1-4391-6099-2
Global tourism has grown from some 25 million “trips recorded by foreign tourists” in 1950 to one billion today. Journalist Becker (America’s Vietnam War: A Narrative History) travels widely, experiencing and analyzing “the stealth industry of the twenty-first century,” which is proliferating across regions, cultures, and ecosystems, and developing in specialized niches like “sex tourism,” “dark tourism,” and “heritage tourism.” While not an exhaustive treatment of the subject, the book is impressively wide-ranging, characterized by thoughtful analysis and Becker’s personal reflections about how the industry impacts economics, politics, the environment, and other areas. She travels with her husband, Bill, on some of the package tours, including a pair of cruises that couldn’t be more different: one on a commercial cruise liner; the other, a small excursion run by National Geographic. Referencing the United Nations’ modestly funded World Tourism Organization and related governmental bodies and policies, the book stresses the key role of central planning—beginning with the basic insight that mass tourism is already a product of government policy, as evinced by a glance at the reconstruction of postwar Europe under the Marshall Plan. But planning takes many forms, and remains inseparable from larger political-economic trends and exigencies. Intriguing and eye-opening, this book will leave few in doubt that tourism deserves more consideration than it has hitherto received in larger discussions of globalization and public policy. Agent: David Halpern, the Robbins Office. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/2013
Release date: 04/16/2013
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Hardcover - 978-1-4391-6100-5
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4391-6750-2
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