Table of Contents:
III Assessing Alternative Tourism
Post-Fordism, Alternative Tourism and Sustainability
Alternative Tourism and Post-Fordism
In Chap. 1, we discussed how globalization has influenced the development of mass tourism. Several changes have happened globally since the 1980s that paved the way for the rise of alternative tourism. One of these was the shift from Fordism (or mass production) to post-Fordism (or lean production, also known as Toyotaism). While mass production is very rigid and very resistant to change, lean production (or “flexible production”) is based on the application of the new communication and information technologies which allow for easy switch between models. Large production volumes are still necessary, but this can be fragmented between different models (Stutz and Warf 2012). More differences between Fordism and post-Fordism are outlined in Table 17.1.
Post-Fordism also reflects the rapidly changing consumer tastes. In the tourism context, it has led to the segmentation of tourist preferences and the proliferation of alternative tourism forms (Telfer and Sharpley 2008). However, unlike in other industries, in the tourism industry, post-Fordist forms of tourism have not completely replaced Fordist mass tourism, but rather the two coexist side by side (Ioannides and Debbage 1998). For example, in tourism, globalization is manifested in two polar ways: on the one hand, there is a continuing trend toward the creation of larger and stronger multinational corporations (MNCs) and strategic alliances encouraging mass tourism and, on the other hand, there is a trend toward more localized “branding” and niche marketing, which tends to favor alternative tourism (Meethan 2004: 117).
The creation of economic and political blocks (such as the Schengen agreement), which was an important factor in supporting mass tourism, has also contributed to the development of alternative tourism. For example, it has led to the increase in the  
Table 17.1 Differences between Fordism and post-Fordism (Stutz and Warf 2012: 207)
frequency of short travel and alternative forms of tourism (such as city breaks or transborder shopping tourism) to neighboring countries, or even longer tours including a number of countries (Faby 2006; Tomori 2010).
The devolutionary movement around the world and the transfer of decision making to lower-level governments has created another situation in which local and regional governments are competing with each other to attract investment. The development of mass tourism resorts requires huge investments that can be done by the central government or by private investors. However, even in the latter situation, central governments are expected to play a very important role in tourism development (for instance by building the infrastructure) (Hall and Page 2006). Regional and local governments generally do not have the financial capacity to get involved in such projects (Kerr 2003) and will tend to focus on the development of smaller-scale, often niche tourism projects, thereby favoring the development of alternative tourism over mass tourism.
Also, more recently, the postmodernist current emphasizing cultural difference and fragmentation has been successfully challenging the global culture model. Hence, the emergence of a new trend in tourism: individuals traveling in search for authentic culture, the privilege of alternative tourism. This is also linked to two other concepts, cultural commodification and cosmopolitanism (see Murray 2006), and is in line with post-Fordism, which is illustrated in tourism by the “rapidly changing consumer tastes and the emergence of niche and segmented markets” catering for different tastes and styles (Mowforth and Munt 2009: 22; Franklin
2003). The number of repeat visits has decreased, as more tourists are searching for alternative sites and attractions, while travel is characterized by greater flexibility choice and self-direction (Franklin 2003).
More recently, professionals prefer to take several shorter vacations in a year rather than one longer vacation (Williams 2009). Mowforth and Munt (2009: 14) argue that “this process of globalization locates the growth and expansion of tourism firmly within the complex nature of social change.” Moreover, tourism is associated with other forms of social activities, entertainment, and relaxation, such as leisure, sport, visiting family and friends, education, shopping, culture, and hobbies (Mowforth and Munt 2009). Post-Fordism has also marked a shift in the trend from the consumption of goods to the consumption of services (Mowforth and Munt 2009).
The increase in the number of personal cars and rental cars has also allowed for more travel flexibility and increased accessibility for tourists. Low-cost airlines (which offer low fares by eliminating many traditional passenger services) have also contributed considerably to the ability to travel and have increased the number of destinations (see, for example, Goeldner and Ritchie 2009; and Page 2009). The deregulation and privatization of airlines, coupled with technological developments in the transport and communication sectors, has led to the creation of strategic alliances, which are similar to the automotive industry (see Dicken 2011), allowed for economies of scale even under fragmentation of routes (Meethan 2004).
At the same time, the newest communication and information technologies are also contributing to the development of alternative tourism. For example, many CRS are increasingly using the Internet as an interface which makes them easily accessible not only by travel agents, but also by consumers (tourists) to book more customized holiday destination products (Bramwell 2004). Moreover, many airlines have created their own websites where consumers can buy tickets directly, bypassing travel agents.
The internet also makes it possible to find and book accommodation, rent a car, find activities in the area, find detailed information about the places visited, etc., so that a personalized travel route can be created without having to go with the masses and without having to use intermediaries in the transactions (Holden 2008; Meethan
2004). Moreover, the new gadgets (smartphones, GPS, cell phone applications, etc.) allow tourists to book or make changes, as they go and find information about the places visited, without having to resort to local guides or Information Centers (Wang and Fesenmeier 2013). These new information and communication technologies allow for broader participation and control by local communities. Poon (1994: 91) characterized “new tourism” as “a tourism of the future ... characterized by flexibility, segmentation, and more authentic tourism experiences.”
Not only has post-Fordism determined the shift from mass tourism to alternative tourism, but mass tourism products have also become more flexible (Shaw and Agarwal 2007). This could be understood as a shift to what Shaw and Agarwal (2007) call neo-Fordism. In fact, we could argue that different modes of tourism production (pre-Fordist, Fordist, post-Fordist, and neo-Fordist) may coexist in certain destinations (Torres 2002; cited in Bramwell 2004), and the boundaries between them are blurred (Ioannides and Debbage 1998).