Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt
International Tourism Management


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Tourism Resources: Nature - authentic and man-made

 The Beach / The Ocean

 The sea and especially the border between land and sea, the beach have become the typical destination for the age of mass tourism, the second half of the 20th century, a symbol of


Body, sport, leisure orientation

Freedom from social, textile, moral borders


The ocean as a symbol of death

In European tradition the ocean is also the fountain of life

- "Aphrodite foamborn" -



but mainly a force to be feared,
the ultimate border.


In mythology and literature:

Gilgamesch Epos - the oldest western "traveller" is realizing on the ocean than all man are mortal

After many fantastic experiences, including meeting his immortal ancestor Utnapishtim (prototype of the biblical Noah), Gilgamesh finds, but ultimately fails to use, a flower that can bring rejuvenation. While not achieving his goal in a literal sense, the wisdom Gilgamesh gains on his journey allows him to become a truly wise and just king, and thus achieve a different sort of immortality.


Travelling by boat brings egyptians, greeks, romans into the hades, the area of death



The sea is the non-created part of the world in the bible.

The Big Flood is ending all live but Noahs Arc,

Leviathan, Neptun, mermaids, whales, giant octopusses all threaten peoples live.


In reality:

Before the 19th c. travelling on the ocean is extremely dangerous, most people cannot swim, ships are often lost in bad weather.



So the ocean has been always seen as a threat, not a place to be on or look onto for pleasure.


The beach as a part of nature and a place for health

As the perception of nature changes from chaos and threat to "natural", original, picturesque scenery, the beach becomes a destination for the first time, boat trips (Gulf of Naples, gondola), fishermen songs and the ocean as topic of art become popular at the end of 18th c.

At the same time water (and fresh air) starts to be seen as positive for health, washing and bathing stop to been seen as bad for the human body

Seaside resorts are started in Britain and later also in Germany (1797 Doberan). The ocean becomes "blue" instead of "bloody red" or "dark".


Australia 1920s



20th century: The beach as a main tourism resource

Acquisition of places which before did not exist or which before were remote:

Traditionally most cities are not build directly at the seaside but on the next hill etc. to be safer from storms, floods, marauders, the "unhealthy air" etc.

The beach is used by fishermen or as a harbour or as a toilet

Seaside resorts are build especially for guests, fishermens villages change into tourists areas, the seaside promenade and the pier is developed

Access is provided by railway (before 2nd World War) and by aircraft after 1945, changing remote areas (f.i. mediterranean and caribic islands) into tourism hot spots, helped by airstrips build during the war



Beach holidays become standardised, the hinterland becomes less and less relevant - the tourists are "turning their backs" on the land

Tourists take over beaches from local usages









21st century: The beach moves indoors


Ocean Dome Miyazake (Kyushu/Japan)


Tropical Islands, Brandenburg



























 If we would have to decide which kind of "Erlebniswelt" to build in Dithmarschen as a bad-weather alternative to the beach, which kind would you choose - and why?

















  Contact: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt FRGS FRAS
Bachelor and Master Program International Tourism Management