Negotiated tourist identities: nationality and tourist adaptation
Within the media there is an abundance of reports that claim tourists are being harassed, kidnapped and even killed in some instances as a result of their representation of their country's political ideology and international relations. A qualitative study was undertaken in Bolivia to determine how a tourist avoids or copes with the fear of severe political retribution or harassment in a country whose political environment is largely opposed to that of the traveler's home country. Interviews were conducted in multiple regions of Bolivia, and the data were coded. The results show that tourists experience political retribution on a much smaller scale than initially thought, usually through non-threatening social encounters. The overall themes influencing traveler behaviors are the (Un)Apologetic American, the George W. Bush foreign policy era, avoiding perceived unsafe countries or regions, and Bolivian borders. Respondents, when asked to reflect upon their behavioral habits, do not usually forthrightly deny their country of origin but merely adapt their national identities based on their familial origins, dual citizenship, language abilities or lack thereof, familiarity with the world/regional politics or lack thereof and associating oneself with a popular region in the United States (e.g. New York), rather than the US as a whole. Interestingly, none of the Americans interviewed candidly deny their American nationality or express future intention to deny their nationality. The Americans did express feeling "singled out" at the Bolivian borders which leads to the management implication to implement an automated receipt when purchasing a Bolivian visa and improving the Ministry of Tourism website that would more clearly state visa requirements. Additionally, the image of Bolivia as a culturally and politically homogeneous country is discussed.