Tourism and artifacts: a successful combination?
Artifacts and lived places, two theoretical concepts that are used in tourism studies. This essay is based on the concepts of seeing a tourism destination as a lived place and of using artifacts in the management of tourism. In the following section these theoretical concepts will be explained based on how they are used in theory. After the theoretical explanation the proposition will be given and arguments will be provided. The essay will focus on artifacts used to solve waste problems in tourism destinations and use examples from the destinations Sumba and Belitung, two upcoming tourism destinations in Indonesia.
Tourism destinations as lived places
In tourism destinations interactions between people and other people take place. Also interactions between people and nonhuman things take place, for example between people and objects or between people and habits of others (Kisora, 2018). This means that the objects and facilities in the destination can both be used by people living in the place and by people temporarily visiting the place, the tourists. Both have their influence on the destination and form it because of being there and making use of it (Kisora, 2018). Furthermore, emotions can be connected to places. An example can be a memorial statue. This can function as a place to which people come in order to deal with their memories. On the other hand, it can also function as a tourism attraction. If multiple uses and views of a place collide with each other, this can cause problems to occur (Kisora, 2018).
Problems can also occur when the interaction between people and objects collides. For example when the usage of a certain object gets misinterpreted because of different ideas of people about how to use objects. If behaviour is not steered at tourism destinations this can lead to conflicts (Kisora, 2018). Not only social conflicts can occur or conflicts due to cultural differences, also the destination can be damaged because of immoral behaviour. An example of this could be tourists littering. If we take a look at Bali, Indonesia, we can see that mass tourism created some serious problems over there.
Interactions between people and objects can cause problems. On the other hand the literature suggests that artifacts, which are objects, can prevent problems from happening or from occurring.
The steering effect of artifacts?
Let’s first start with the question: “what are artifacts?”. Simply explained, an artifact is an non-human object which is created by humans. These artifacts can be used to trigger certain behaviour, for example slowing down in speed because of a speed bump (Duineveld, 2018; Rosenberger, 2014). They can also seemingly take over human behaviour, for example closing a door can be done by a groom instead of a human (Latour, 1992). These seem to be quite obvious examples as people are probably aware of their function. However, this has to do with the underlying actor-network. Knowing how to use certain artifact has automated certain human behaviour (Rosenberger, 2014). For example you know that a green traffic light means you can drive, so you will do this automatically when the green light occurs without having to think what action you should do. Furthermore, artifacts can make one outcome easier and another one less easy, for example traffic lights make it more easy to cross a crossing safely, but makes it harder to cross whenever you want.
The steering of behaviour by using artifacts happens also within the tourism industry (Duineveld, 2018; Buijtendijk, 2018; Latour, 1992). Making a key of a hotel room very heavy and unpractical to carry with you steers people in following the moral behaviour of leaving the key at the desk in the hotel (Buijtendijk, 2018; Latour, 1992). This causes the decrease in number of lost keys. Another example would be placing fences to make people stand in line for, for example, the check in desk at an airport (Duineveld, 2018). This stimulates the moral behaviour of being patient and discourages behaviour like jumping the queue. Solving problems and transforming unwanted behaviour into moral behaviour with the use of artifact seems so easy according to Duineveld’s and Latour’s vision. Also in the article by Rosenberger (2014) it is suggested that when people are familiar with artifacts they will choose to perform the steered to behaviour more easily than performing different behaviour. In the example he uses it is suggested than people would rather sit on a park bench than lay down on it, just because they are used to the fact that sitting is what should be done on a public bench.