Tourism, culture and society

Offer semester
1st semester

Lecture time
Wednesday 14:30 – 16:20

Lecture venue

Course description

The phenomenal growth of tourism in contemporary societies is of major social and cultural significance. This course introduces key concepts, theories, and debates in the cultural study of tourism and helps students view tourism as a complex social phenomenon connected with social and cultural dynamics.

The lectures of this course are arranged under four major themes, which include (1) the historical background of the rise of modern tourism; (2) the definitions of tourist and tourism, and the shaping of tourist experience; (3) tourist gaze and the cultural representation of people and place; and (4) tourism’s impact on city (especially among post-industrial cities).

This course aims to provide students with a broader and deeper understanding of the issues related to the cultural study of tourism. On completing this course, students will be equipped with better knowledge of rise of modern tourism and current debates of tourism. Special attention will be given to Asian and Chinese experiences, not only as guest societies, but also host societies.

Course learning outcomes

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Grasp some of the key concepts of the cultural studies of tourism
  • Know the general historical background of the rise of modern tourism
  • Identify the major trends of tourism and its social impact in recent decades
  • Analytically engage in the current debates over mass tourism and its social impact on host societies in recent decades
  • Evaluate the impacts of tourism on nature, cultural heritage and host societies
  • Apply the concepts to reflect on personal experiences, as a tourist and a host


Class Participation10%
Reflective exercise15%
Individual Update10%
Final Presentation15%
Written Report40%

Required reading

There is no textbook for this course. However, the following titles will give you a comprehensive review of the current debates on tourism.


Franklin, A. (2003). Tourism: An Introduction. London; Thousand Oaks; New Delhi: SAGE Publications.

Judd, D.R. and Fainstein, S.S. (eds.) (1999). The Tourist City. New Haven; London: Yale University Press.

Pechlaner, H., Innerhofer, E. and Erschbamer, G. (eds.) (2020) Overtourism; Tourism Management and Solutions. Oxon; New York: Routledge.

Urry, J. and Larsen, J. (2011). The Tourist Gaze 3.0. Los Angeles; London: SAGE Publications.

Course co-ordinator and teachers

Student view

My group was assigned to take part in a final project regarding Pokfulam Village. Through joining the local tours and interviewing the residents in Pokfulam Village, I start to realise the potential of cultural and heritage tourism in Hong Kong. I hope that the tour designed by our group could be actualised and raise the awareness of heritage preservation among Hong Kong people.

– Karen Kwan, 4th year Media & Cultural Studies Minor undergraduate student

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