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Cross Culture Understanding And Tourism Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 2744 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Analyse three important aspects of cross-cultural understanding which affect tourism.

No one would challenge the fact that tourism has become an international phenomenon of global consequence” (Uysal, 1994, p.123). The internationalization of the tourism industry is complex and wide ranging. It is a type of cross-cultural communication and understanding. For instance, tourists who come from all over the world may have numerous encounters while visiting a destination such as accommodation, transportation, attractions and catering. Meanwhile, the tourism industry has to organize tourism resources well and also fulfil tourists’ satisfaction (David & Jackie, 2009, p.139) from their different cultural backgrounds. Cross-cultural communication is based on languages, customs, foods and religions.

Thesis Statement: Cross-cultural communication has lead to the growth of the tourism market in the last decades and is booming in 21st century. International tourism is typical cross-cultural communication. Millions of people have encountered other cultures primarily to pursue a vacation (Kim, 2001, para. 3) to experience various cultures and customs.

Purpose Statement: The purpose of this essay is to analyse three important aspects of cross cultural understanding which affect global tourism in terms of communication methods, foods as well as religions. First, it will outline the most important aspects of cross-cultural understanding in the industry. Secondly, it will explain why they are important for both tourists and hosts by providing some examples. Finally, some suggestions will be given for running a successful global tourism business.

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A Language

1. Language is very important for a tourist

Language is the “code” (Wagen, 1997, p 41) in cross-cultural communication, it is important in tourism for both tourists and hosts because it is the means by which meaning is constructed between them. It has been viewed as exchange of information and cultural differences. If they can’t understand the same language the tourist experience will be unsatisfactory. Furthermore, the hosts won’t be able to provide a quality product or experience and their business and reputation depend on doing so. For example, if we look at the experience of Japanese tourists who visit Australia, they need to be able to get accurate information for visiting the places they want to see. Since the tourists speak Japanese and the people in the tourism destination speak English, it can give rise to problems in terms of no communication and misunderstanding. In addition to that, other situations where language is very important to tourists are accidents or crises of some kind – like losing a wallet or getting lost in the situation of tourists cannot understand the information which have been provided on the “signage” (du Cros, 2007. p. 228) as well as they can’t communicate in English. These can be very serious matters.

2. Language is an important factor that tourism hosts have to take into consideration.

In order to obtain cross-cultural understanding and make tourism satisfied with their overseas travel. Language is an important factor. Tourism hosts should be aware of tourists’ language habit and tradition. In the case of Japanese visit Australia, it is important that the host enterprises provide some “on-site interpretation” (du Cros, 2007, p. 235) service. They basically tend to remove the confusion between difference languages. In addition, to provide some Japanese information, for example, Japanese version of warning, introduction as well as catalogues will help them to understand. In case of some accidents will happen during the traveling. The travel agency also needs to provide some Japanese document which including information of embassy, police offices and other organizations.

On the other hand, despite Japanese tourists can speak English while they travel in Australia, their way of expression is different from native speakers. Therefore, to understand Japanese’s verbal communication skills and traditions plays a significant role in tourism industry especially for hosts. FitzGerald (1998, p.23) provided the fact that the way of answer the questions in terms of “you don’t, do you” “we can’t, can we”. To native speaker, their answer is “No” when they agree with this sentence. But Japanese peoples’ answer is “yes”, which is opposite meaning to English speakers. It is because there is no rhetorical question in Japanese dialogue. The answer is following the question in Japanese whereas it is in according to the fact in English. Therefore, it is better to avoid offering these sorts of questions to Japanese, otherwise it will lead to misunderstanding. Furthermore, Japanese people who travel in Australia would give their opinion by translate Japanese to English directly, which means the “style” (FitzGerald, 1998, p.23) of answer is different from English. According to FitzGerald, when Japanese give feedback, they prefer repeat “yes” instead of “OK” or “I got it”. Those are examples of different verbal communication in Japanese and English which make hosts to take into consideration when they provide tourism service.

Non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication is very important for a tourist.

According to Reisinger (2002, p.31) Cross-cultural difference are not only refers to verbal communication, but also existed in all sorts of human activities between foreigner tourist and local hosts. Non-verbal behavior is a significant element for a tourist because it is easier to be noticed and understood than verbal communication. Mehrabian(as cited in wagen,1997, p43)state that less than 10% of the message is communicated by words recording, as twice as much that of the message expressed by languages and 70% of through non-verbal language in terms of posture, gesture and facial expression. What is more, the behaviors of greeting, formality as well as body touching are important means of non-verbal communication which are reflected by tourists.

Non-verbal communication is an important factor that tourism hosts have to take into consideration.

Likewise the verbal communication which is indispensable, to tourism hosts, non-verbal communication is important as well. According to FitzGerald (1998, p.xii), for the Asian people who visit Australia, the hosts should be aware of their sensibilities of their own cultures and customs. For instance, for Chinese people, there is not too much body touch between male and female. They prefer to smile and pad without touching. The only touching is hands shaking while first meet which is widely being accepted recently. Therefore, hosts should avoid much body contact. This names cards which be considered the representation of person’s face should fully aware by hosts. It is suggested to “pass them with two hands” as well as “accept them in a similar fashion” (FitzGerald, 1998, p.63) when give name cards to customers. Meanwhile, they should be accepted respectfully and reading carefully the names cards of their customers, which is a sort of etiquette in international business. It is better, especially for tourists who from Japan and Korea, to pass and receive all the objects to use both hands. What is more, gesture in terms of a kind of body language can easily be identified by hosts. People from different cultural backgrounds have different speculations of body languages. Several examples are provided below which present the different features of body languages of Asian people.

Table 1.1 Body Language gestures from around Asia. (Van der Wagen, L, 1997)


Sucking air through the teeth occurs when something is surprising or difficult. In China it is best to change the request to avoid the embarrassment of having to say “No”. The host always has his back to the door while the chief guset faces the door. To beckon someone, the palm faces downward and the fingers are moved in a scratching motion. Bones are often left alongside the dish. When finished eating the custom is to place the chopsticks parallel across the bowl.


Indonesians rarely disagree in public and will laugh together and hold them over their heads. Guests do not drink until the host begins. Where the table is large, rapping the knuckles on the table is a form of restaurants people may share tables.


Direct eye contact can be seen as intimidating. Bowing in greeting is customary. Waving the hand in front of the face signals “I don’t know”or “I don’t understand”. A waiter’s attention is attracted by catching his eye and dipping the head. Listening without interruption is polite. A Japanese person wearing a mask in public probably has a cold.


The Western gesture for “come here” is only used for dogs. To beckon someone in Korea the arm is extended, palm down and a scratching motion is used. Drunkenness is quickly forgiven.


Showing the soles of the feet or pointing with a foot is insulting as the foot is seen as the dirtiest part of the body. The head is the most sacred part of the body, and children should not be patted on the head. The left hand is “unclear” and is not used to pass objects or food.

(Source: Van der Wagen. 2002, p. 44)


What food means to a tourist.

Food is considered as an aspect of cultures. It is important to tourist because they can experiment the local culture via taste local food. There are increasing recognition that tourist who travel around are aim to enjoy the variety of local cuisine, drink as well as snack. Sim (as cited in Urry & Wang, 2007.p.328) argued that tourists is going to obtain typical signs which representative a place that comfort to their own expectations, foods and drinks would be a good example. Therefore, tourists are likely to perchance “regional specialities” (Sim as cited in Urry & Wang, 2007.p.328) as well as sit in the famous local restaurant to enjoy the authentic local food. Meanwhile,it also be argued that the to develop the local catering is a kind of connection between consumers and the local residents. Tourists are looking for commodities that can give them an insight into the nature of a place and people who living there. so that they will encounter the dialect, customs, life styles and peoples’ dressing code while they visit these restaurants, which is a powerful part of an integrated tourism experience. Local specialities as a sort of souvenir are different from other objects, for example, tickets. They provide both visible memories (local words, pictures) as well as “sensory memories” (Sim as cited in Urry & Wang, 2007.p.328) which has stronger association with the local culture they have experienced.

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How a tourism host has to think about food for tourists.

Sims (2009, p.328) states that to designing and provide high-quality catering or distinctive local food products is one way of promote local food brands. Normally, there are several famous local restaurant can be introduced to tourists during their travelling. Hosts should be aware of successful tourism management have to develop a range of local catering service which can be distinguished from other tourism management and attract a constantly visitors streaming. Meanwhile, it is vital for hosts to master the food restrictions which belong to different customers. In the Christian calendar, two significant events must be remembered: Easter day and Christmas. Both of them are the commemoration of Jesus Christ whereas Ester day follows a “lunar cycle” (FitzGerald, 1998, p. 7) and Christmas day is fixed every year. Despite of some of them would avoid “red meat” on Friday there is no particular food restriction for Christine’s. Some special food should be prepared and provided in Hotel and restaurant on Easter day and “big family Christmas feast” (FitzGerald, 1998, p.7). In addition, most of the Buddhists are vegetarian because “vegetarianism” (FitzGerald, 1998, p.13) is the single restriction for food of this religion. This issue should be noticed by people who running international tourism business.

Religions and Philosophies

How these religion might affect tourists.

Religions and Philosophies take part into a significant role in the human beings’ civilization and history. Every religion has its own characteristic and philosophy. Therefore, for tourists who going to make an overseas traveling, they may encounter situations which is different from or even disobey with their believing. Meanwhile, tourists who have their own religion will always be obedient. No matter which area they were or they will be. The religious philosophies and behaviors would never be changed. For example, in Islam, all the individuals’ behaviors have been controlled in their social, economic and political lives. They are not allowed to eat pork, animals’ blood and even have one month for “Ramadan” (FitzGerald, 1998, p.4) which demands all the Muslims be fast during the daytime. The Muslim women who wear hijab might not suit to go to the beach while they are travelling. Some potential dangers would be existed participate some recreation activities as well.

How a tourism host has to cater for religious differences

As FitzGerald (1998) has indicated that to understand the different religions and their philosophies would improved the communication in global tourism industry for both tourists and host. What is more, to show respect to each religion and offer special tread for them are very important for hosts. As it mentioned before, Muslins have to worship five times every week. As a result, hosts need to make sure they know where the mosque is or even provide a quiet corner for them to complete the mission. Buddhism, which is “a pan-Asian religion and philosophy” (FitzGerald, 1998, p. 11) has affected in the field of spirit, social life and national culture in the eastern world over a long period of time. Buddhists are promising not to kill or harm any living things. Undertaking family and sex loyalty and refraining from get something which doesn’t belong to them.


In conclusion, it is clear that cross-cultural communication and understanding not only affect to international tourists, but are also important to the hosts who running the global tourism business in the field of language, customs, food and regions. Essentially, tourists who travel in the intercultural environment can be affected by the differences between other cultures and their own. Meanwhile, the different languages give rise to some misunderstanding or even non-communication. Therefore, the hosts must be aware of these cultural differences such as different languages, different non-verbal communication and different religions they have. Above all, in order to eliminate the communication problems and maintain an atmosphere of peace and enjoyment in international tourism circumstances. It is necessary for hosts to take these into consideration in this industry by supply interpreters, foreigner information translation. People who work in this industry must know very well about the characteristics of different customs and religions, which can help to avoid cultural conflicts. In addition to that, tourism business owners have to provide ideal service which can give international tourists a unique local cultural experience. Meanwhile, customers’ cultures and customs should be respected. The cross-cultural understanding in global industry may never be completely taken into consideration by hosts, however, further studies to identify potential problems and solutions, as well as an improvement in cross cultural communication for global tourism industry, should result in a better understanding and more enjoyable experiences for both hosts and tourists.


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