Dutch Ethnic Tourism, Indigenous Authenticity and Commoditization in and around San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Mexico
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Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries and ethnic tourism is booming business with the increasing awareness of tourists regarding worldwide disappearing cultures. Travel organizations observe this awareness and notice that tourists are more and more looking for ‘the exotic other’ and ‘authentic experiences’. Dutch travel organizations also highlight in their information the presence of ‘traditional indigenous’ communities to promote their tours to Chiapas, Mexico. In this research I examine how they do this, but I combine this with an investigation on how tourists and indigenas experience their interaction and what Dutch travel organizations can do to improve the experience of tourists and indigenas. It examines the opinions of tourists, but also looks at the reaction of the indigenas in Chiapas. Could it be that the indigenous people have changed their rituals and traditions due to tourism? This thesis focuses on the combination of three research populations: Dutch travel organization, tourists and Mexican indigenas. It contributes to the literature on ethnic tourism, authenticity, authentication and commoditization by focusing on the interaction between tourists and indigenas and the influence travel organizations can have on tourists’ experiences.