The panel aims at bringing together anthropologists as well as other social scientists discussing the dynamics of landscape narratives and their position in the shaping of tourist attractions.
Landscapes constitute major attractions for tourists. Nevertheless, landscapes are not unambiguous phenomena. The physical appearances are linked to symbols, meanings, talks and narratives, which are stored in the human minds and form the basis for understanding and appreciating a landscape. The meanings of landscape elements are only potential until the context shapes them (see Whiston Spirn 1998 The Language of Landscape). The context consists of attributed narratives (popular stories, media, books etc.) and meanings as well as practices linked to (the use of) the landscape. Landscapes and their narrative meanings are framed in power relations and in- or excluding practices of stakeholders. Over time, landscapes accrue layers of meaning with every new representation, and these inevitably thicken and enrich the range of interpretations and possibilities (see James Corner 1999, Recovering Landscape - Essays on contemporary Landscape Architecture). Tourism plays a role within these representations and power play around landscapes. Although community based tourism develops to a certain degree, the influence of Western or multinational NGO's and entrepreneurs is considerable. Many NGO's represent Western conceptions of ecology or heritage conservation. Entrepreneurs face the logic of running their business, which is not always aiming at top profits but at least connected to their clientele and the preferences of market segments. The clientele is predominantly Western. Narratives are a resource of tourist meanings and the tourism developments shape and modify narratives of the landscape.In this respect the cross-cultural comparison is indispensable.