Mediating Touristic Dangerscapes: The Semiotics of State Travel Warnings Issued to Israeli Tourists

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media, discourse, representations, Israel, terror, nationalism, visual images

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Official ‘travel warnings’ are recurrently published by the Counter-Terrorism Bureau in Israeli media, with the aim of informing potential tourists about the dangers of terrorism aimed at Israelis who travel abroad. These travel warnings, which juxtapose menacing warnings with tranquil visual representations of touristic vacationscapes, have recently gained a considerable public attention and have sprouted discussions around local tourism and identities. In this article, we offer a discursive and semiotic analysis of 55 travel warning articles, which appeared between 1998 and 2010 in printed and digital Hebrew press in Israel. We address visual and textual aspects of the articles and ask how they represent and mediate touristic vacationscapes. Following recent developments (‘turns’) in both tourism studies and media studies, we argue that these warnings articles construct multilayered spatial–visual representations of tourist destinations, which amount to a unique genre of tourism imagery in and of itself. Focussing on travel warnings addressing Israeli tourists who travel to the Eastern shores of the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, we find that these combined or hybrid images and spaces present a convergence of two contemporary systems of representation, related to tourism and mass media, respectively, and construct a charged and mediated cultural space in Israeli collective imagination.

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Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, v. 8, issue 3, p. 206-222.