Abstracts for Session 6

 Capturing mobility: Visual methods in Tourism Studies



Title: Images of Sustainability in Tourism 

Authors: Karen Davies and Ian Jenkins

Affiliation: Cardiff Metropolitan University, University of Iceland


As concerns around the future of our planet continue, tourism organisations seek to improve their practices and in doing so appeal to the more ethically minded consumer.  The use of germane visual representations on websites and social media sites is key to delivering messages related to these sustainable practices and ethics.   This paper aims to explore the types of visual representations used to represent aspects of sustainability by tourism organisations in order to elicit the desired responses from consumers. The use of visual research in tourism is still under-represented, despite growing recognition of its validity and therefore a secondary aim is to further enhance and increase the visibility of this largely underdeveloped area.  

Visual representations of sustainability were initially extrapolated by analysing the websites of key environmental and conservation organisations such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.  A list was drawn up based on the content of these websites and a matrix developed from which to categorise visual representations of sustainability.  A purposive sample of tourism organisations related to issues of sustainability plus a stratified sample of other tourism businesses including visitor attractions, accommodation providers, airlines and festivals, based on size of business or capacity was developed and a content analysis of the websites and social media sites of these organisations was conducted using the matrix.  Interviews with the managers of some of the selected organisations were then carried out to discover the reasoning behind the use of the visual representations on their websites and social media sites.


Key words: Sustainability; visual representations; tourism; content analysis 



Title: Playing it safe: Toyrism (toy tourism) as revenge travel in pandemic times 

Authors: Katriina Heljakka and Juulia Räikkönen

Affiliation: University of Turku 


The travels of toys have become increasingly visible thanks to technological development, visual, serial and social storytelling: Players document the journeys of their traveling toys with smart phones, and share their adventures on social media platforms, such as Instagram. The phenomenon of traveling toys as a form of non-human tourism has been conceptualised as toy mobility (Heljakka & Ihamäki, 2019) and toyrism (Heljakka & Räikkönen, 2021). Toyrism entails the mobility of physical character toys and happens as part of international travel in the contexts of toy owners, toy hosting programmes and toy travel agencies. Earlier work observes, how toyrism occurs for either paidic (open-ended and creative), or ludic (goal-driven and competitive) motivations, which is most of all is grounded in their players’ wanderlust as well as their quest for social interaction through shared toy experiences.

This presentation highlights completed and ongoing studies on toyrism. Leaning on the outcome of analyses of adult toy play during the pandemic, the research investigates toyrism through the themes of resistance, resourcefulness and playful resilience related to restrictions and possibilities of human and non-human traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic. To mitigate the risks of public travel rage, the author presents how toyrism has manifested during pandemic times by playing it safe, and how this play activity of adults demonstrates revenge travel. Toyrism as a form of revenge travel in the times of the pandemic is exemplified through a case study of the_toyrists—two toy characters, who escape the everyday in their real-world travel bubble.


Keywords: adult toy play, pandemic, revenge travel, toy mobility, toyrism  



Title: Delving into images – capturing motions 

Author: Katrín Anna Lund

Affiliation: University of Iceland


This presentation looks at photography as a creative and sensual activity that reveals the more-than- human entanglements that constitute places as tourism destinations. The focus is on the practice of the tourist researcher who travels to and in a destination gathering information about the being and becoming of it, often using camera as a tool to collect data. The images produced most often serve scholars as illustrating components in a text-based results and are as such undermined as decorative and explicative, hence, their narratives, vitality and agency are ignored. 

My argument is that photographic images capture the immediate atmospheres of place as they are woven together through the near and the far, the seen and the unseen, spatially and temporally, and as such photographs communicate ‘not only through the realist paradigm but through lyrical expressiveness’ (Edwards, 1997). In other words, photographs meditate motions and emotions that words cannot always express precisely because places, as destinations, can never be merely described and framed. It is becoming increasingly recognised that tourism researchers need to scrutinise their research practices and move towards more responsible approaches that demand acknowledging how places are shaped by more-than-human mobilities that embrace the moving observer.

To illustrate the lyrical expressiveness of a place in motion I shall invite the audience to join me on a travel in a sub-Arctic destination in the north east of Iceland to be touched by some lyrical and moving moments embraced by more-than-human atmospheres.



Title: Sonar-o-Graphy: The Submerged Tourist Gaze in Sportfishing

Author: Vesa Markuksela

Affiliation: University of Lapland


Fishing tourism is a very common leisure practice in sport fishing, and fishing grounds are in the core of the servicescape of this tourism form. The sportfishing waterscape consists of the interconnected above-water and underwater “landscapes”. Fishers’ particular interest is in the latter as they attempt – in order to read the underwater landscape – to move toward the fish. In doing so, they also try to sense like the fish.

A fisher endeavours to interconnect with the fish mostly via “distant” technologized observing, without actual close “contact zones”. This is done for instance by closely following the screen of a sonar system. The subsurface observation of the posthuman fish, water, vegetation or bottom is a messy combination of sensory ethnography and multispecies ethnography.  I refer to this novel method as Sonar-o-Graphy. 

Sonar-o-Graphy leans on a practice theory combination that emphasizes the importance of mobility, the body and the senses. It also acknowledges the involved agency of the posthuman (e.g. fish, sonar) in the pursued practices. 

This is an empirical study of two sportfishing modes: trolling and casting. The trolling data was gathered by the writer’s own extended sensory ethnographic fieldwork. The casting data consists of interviews with enthusiasts and their own sonar related videos. This study applies narrative analysis and epi-reading of the visual.

In a similar way as photovoice, Sonar-o-Graphy offers a visual means for exploring the embodied dimensions of human–animal entanglement. The sonar allows the ethnographer to “see” and to be “touched by” the water conditions as well as to “feel” the bodily micro-motions and actions of the fish. The sonar, along with water, thereby provides possibilities for human–animal communication through sensory-rich body language. The aspiration is to create a sensorial connection and embodied understanding between the studied fish and the human. 

Sonar-o-Graphy enriches our understanding of multispecies encounters in tourism and supplements the academic posthuman interaction discussion. It also contributes to the methodological development of ethnography and appends viewpoints of socio-material agency of things into the field of research.