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Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Overbooked by Elizabeth Becker - Book review


The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism

By: Elizabeth Becker

Published: April 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages
ISBN-10: 1439160996
ISBN-13: 978-1439160992
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

"The very idea of describing travel and tourism as a serious industry or business is an oxymoron to many people", writes award-winning author and journalist, Elizabeth Becker in her eye opening and thought provoking book Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism. The author describes how travel and tourism is on the verge of becoming the world's largest industry, and brings with it numerous problems and challenges that threaten to destroy the very destinations that are the most popular tourist locations.

Elizabeth Becker recognizes the critical importance of travel and tourism within the global economy. Employing one person in twelve, and boasting $6.5 trillion in revenue, tourism is a gigantic industry by any measure. The author provides the perspective that tourism is very big business, and like any large industry, tourism is fraught with obstacles and challenges, including the destruction of ways of life, buildings, landscapes, animals, and exploitation of employees. While many nations see tourism as a fast track out of poverty, the author presents the less desirable and outright destructive aspects of this enormous global industry.

Elizabeth Becker (photo left) understands that cheap transportation, the internet, and the open borders that are part of the global economy, have underlined both the very positive and most destructive aspects of travel and tourism. As a result of the ease of communication and travel, the problems facing the most popular tourist destinations wil not be going away anytime soon. With some countries actively encouraging even more tourists, while other locations are attempting to reduce visitor numbers, there is no single voice or preferred direction, for the industry as a whole.

Elizabeth Becker outlines the various aspects of the global travel and tourism industry by focusing on its major trends and drivers. She considers both the good side and the dark side of the burgeoning tourism behemoth. The author examines the range of this vast global business through the following lenses:

* The Business: Tourism becomes an industry
* Cultural tourism: France, Venice, and Cambodia
* Consumer tourism: Cruises and Dubai
* Nature tourism: Zambia, Costa Rica, and Sri Lanka
* The New Giant: China
* The Old Giant: The United States

For me, the power of the book is how Elizabeth Becker combines a complete overview of the giant travel and tourism industry, with a comprehensive examination of the real challenges and dangers created by this very successful business. The author makes the crucial point throughout the book that tourism is a business; an a giant global one at that. This recognition provides a fresh approach to an industry that is either ignored, treated as something trivial, or misunderstood as to its size, scope, and impact.

With the realization that travel and tourism is a world wide business, the Elizabeth is able to consider both the advantages and disadvantages provided by the industry. The author considers the aspects and impact of cultural, consumer, and nature tourism through in depth analysis of the most affected areas. The author also examines the failures of travel writers to grapple with the underlying challenges posed by this global product and service business. She also considers the role played by government in either alleviating or even worsening the problems created by the industry.

I highly recommend the landmark and must read book Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism by Elizabeth Becker, to any leaders in the travel and tourism industry, environmental and human rights activists, government policy makers, and anyone interested in learning both the good and the bad that accompanies the global tourist trade. This book will open your eyes to the world, and guide you to see the real business of travel and tourism, without the rose colored travelog glasses in the way.


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