Seeing Red: American Tourism to the Eastern Bloc, 1960-1975
Haskin, Kayleigh Georgina
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Theoretical literature asserts that tourism should lead to better interactions between nations with different ideas and cultures. However, empirical studies find that this is often not the case, and certain pre-trip factors are more influential in changing tourists’ opinions than the experience itself. This study examines one of these potential factors: the role that the news media plays in shaping public opinion about foreign countries prior to travel. Using a case study of American tourists to the Eastern Bloc from 1960-1975, this paper suggests that media portrayal contributed to the negative views Americans held of the Soviet Union and the lack of opinion change after travel. Using the counterexample of Hungary, this paper also suggests that this portrayal was unique to the Soviet Union, and not reflective of the Eastern Bloc as a whole. Finally, it offers a potential new avenue for future research on opinion change in tourists—the consideration of pre-trip domestic factors, such as the news media and the overarching geopolitical context.