The taming of the shrewd
Technologies of the self, emotions, and the rebranding of Philippine tourism
Keywords:Tourism, technologies of the self, emotions, country branding, Covid-19, Philippines
The travel restrictions, health and safety protocols, and the stigmatization of traveling for leisure brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic have significantly affected the tourism industry. In this article, we investigate the current discursive efforts of the Department of Tourism (DOT) of the Philippines to revitalize the country’s tourism industry. We examine seven official DOT video advertisements to determine how the government construes pandemic-safe tourism and rebrands the country as a safe tourist destination. We argue that these videos capitalize on technologies of the self: the onus to negotiate the risks of traveling during the pandemic with the benefits of the tourism experience is premised on the tourist’s willingness to unilaterally take care of oneself. We also contend that the videos’ cautious deployment of emotions enables the government to portray their efforts to combat the pandemic as effective and downplay their heavily criticized draconian measures. This article demonstrates how tourism, an activity that is typically characterized as hedonistic and shrewd, is being tamed as an attempt to remain relevant in the context of the pandemic.
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