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by Dr. Francis Adu Febiri
Since the 1970s, the Canadian government has tried to better balance Canada's vertical racial, ethnic, and cultural mosaic. The creators of most Canadian travel magazines and brochures, however, don't seem to have noticed. In many of their publications, non-white people of Canada are completely missing.
In the few magazines and brochures where people of non-European descent are shown, they are misrepresented. They are portrayed as either mimicking Euro-Canadian leisure culture, or as servers, entertainers, and exotic tourist artifacts.
The message, intentional or not, is that non-European Canadians must assimilate and be included as tourists, or, at best, be included as tourist attractions and, at worst, not be included at all.
Maybe the editors and producers of these travel magazines and brochures are unaware of Canada's racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. Maybe they're trapped in the existing ideological dominance of Euro-Canadian cultural groups and the systematic imaging of Canada as a White society.
Although Canada has adopted multiculturalism as its race and ethnic relations management policy since 1971, lukewarm implementation of the policy leaves non-European cultures at the margins of Canadian society. The travel magazines and brochures reinforce the inequality by projecting Euro-Canadians as the ones who have the desire, time, and discretionary income to fully participate in leisure travel. With this view, it makes business sense for them to target the Euro-Canadian and non-Canadian White segments of the tourism market. What the publishers don't realize is that by rendering non-European groups invisible, or showing them only as tourist attractions, they not only devalue the contribution of non-European Canadians to the tourism industry, but also undermine Canada's declared multiculturalism agenda and limit the tourism market and tourism.; profits. For one thing, Euro-Canadians who want to experience other cultures would travel outside Canada instead of within. Domestic tourism loses.
Canadian tour promoters and travel agents need to know that including minorities in advertisements and photographs as full participants will give Canadian tourism as true multicultural face. This would help reduce the "feelings of rejection, of marginality, and of non-belonging" among Canadian racial minorities, and thus contribute to the healing of communities. More minorities would be attracted to leisure travel, and more Euro-Canadians participate in domestic tourism, enriching Canada culturally and economically.
Producers of Canadian travel magazines and brochures must tap into Canada' multicultural agenda and expand their horizons to include minorities as bona fide tourists. Given the increased interconnectedness of communities of the global village, an inclusive approach to tourism is a cutting edge strategy for developing a sustainable tourism industry. The approach could make tourism a strong mechanism bridging tourists, communities, businesses and governments.
In this light, I suggest that Multiculturalism and Tourism ministries, businesses and communities collaborate in designing and funding research and apply the results to bringing Canada's non-European populations into tourism magazines and brochures as equal participants.
Dr. Francis Adu-Febiri teaches Sociology at Camosun College and Race / Ethnic Relations at University of Victoria (Summer Session).
"TIME DOESN'T HEAL ALL WOUNDS; IT CERTAINLY DOESN'T SOLVE ALL PROBLEMS. IT IS OFTEN MERELY AN EXCUSE FOR ALLOWING THEM TO FESTER. OUR PROBLEMS, INCLUDING OUR RACIAL PROBLEMS, BELONG TO US - NOT TO OUR DESCENDANTS." - Ellen Close, Colour--Blind, 1997
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