The Use of Text
Design and layout of material varies depending on the particular publication, but all the brochures are essentially accounts of tour itineraries and principal attractions. Singapore brochures provide greater factual detail about the sights awaiting the traveler and the tour program; UK brochures tend to stress experiences. The latter contain more practical information about the weather and general facts on China, assuming its unfamiliarity to the reader. Considerable space is given to hotels and pricing panels, which are both absent in the Singapore brochures.
Only the SIA brochure has a general introduction, which invites the reader to "come and visit the Orient on SIA holidays arid together we'll unravel some of the secrets of the East," including China, "one of the greatest travel destinations this world has to offer." This invitation is also found in the UK brochures, which describe China as "an exotic experience," "an enigmatic journey," "a glimpse of the inscrutable," and "a window on an undiscovered world" (Thomas Cook). For customers of Bales, it will "remain with you forever," and Premier promises "one of life's great travel experiences."
Scenic attractions are an important facet of the holidays, with participants encouraged to marvel at and be enthralled by views and sights frequently described in superlatives as beautiful, spectacular, superb, magnificent, awe-inspiring, breathtaking, majestic, and amazing. For example, it "seems impossible to adequately portray the natural beauty of Guilin" in China (Ken-Air), which is "one of the most poetic and beautiful areas in the world" (Bales).
Descriptions of historic sites and buildings are similarly enthusiastic, employing words such as masterpiece, imposing, impressive, fascinating, unique, and famous. There is a tendency to stress the latter two characteristics in terms like "one of mankind's most remarkable accomplishments" (Bales), and "designated by UNESCO as one of the world's major cultural legacies" (SA). With these claims to fame and outstanding qualities, the destinations become "unmissable" (Thomas Cook) and the "essence of die ancient Orient" (SIA), or a "never to be forgotten experience" (Premier).
There is attention given to traditional ways of life and native people in the brochures, but it is often in the form of staged performances. However, cormorant fishermen can be seen at work (Kuoni, Premier, and SIA), there are the "occasional water buffalo working the paddy fields" (Premier), and "glimpses of rural life along the river bank" (Bales and Kuoni). There are also opportunities provided by the companies to visit "authentic" villages and see ethnic minority tribes, which have unique customs and lifestyles. This is especially popular in the Southern Chinese province of Yunnan, where cultural and dance shows are also held. In addition, evening entertainments of Chinese folklore and acrobats are incorporated into the packages.
Contemporary culture is rarely mentioned in the brochures, or modern urban environments. Singapore brochures do, however, feature more large cities, and the references to Tianjin as "an industrial city and one of China's four municipalities under the direct jurisdiction of the central government" (Ken-Air) and "the largest industrial port city of Northern China" (Ananda) lack the embellishment of the description of historic centers. They also contrast markedly with the presentation of Shanghai as the Paris of the East (SIA) or Orient (Bales), where visitors can relive the glamorous 1930s, and Beijing, where the emphasis is on the built heritage. Exceptionally, SA includes a visit to Beijing's hutongs, or courtyard houses, a "wonderful place to see the way common Beijingers live"; this is the sole reference found in any of the brochures to everyday inhabitants, but it should be noted that the hutong dwellers are not typical of the capital's inhabitants.
The definition of culture call be extended to include shopping and eating, which both receive attention in the Singapore brochures, where special meals are often provided and shopping opportunities are highlighted. Shopping is made reference to in UK brochures, but would appear to be a secondary consideration.
A considerable amount of information is provided about hotels in two of the UK brochures. Readers are told about locations and facilities, supported by maps and interior and exterior photographs of the properties. While such prominence may indicate the perceived priority attached to accommodation by the UK tourist, it also reflects the fact that holidaymakers often can select where to stay; this choice is not available on the Singaporean tours.
Overall the brochure offer a view of the world as a brightly colored one, full of extraordinary sight that will amaze the traveler. The words and phrases carry especially strong and powerful associations when applied to the physical environment and are perhaps more emotive in the case of the UK. The Singapore text is more informative about heritage attractions, but both sets of brochures celebrate the historic achievements of the Chinese. In comparison, there are few attempts to describe local people and contemporary culture or establish social relations between the tourists and residents.
These values are reflected in the grammar, which also serves to establish a connection between the reader and operator as a result of the repetition of the pronoun "you" This is direct address seeks to overcome the anonymity of the mass-produced brochure and build a relationship between the seller and buyer, the former shown as one who understands and strives to meet the needs of the latter. Sentences are either short for immediate impact or relatively long. with a cumulative effect as destination attractions are listed. Agency, or control, is exercised by the tour company or tourist. The larger scale textual structure is the brochure itself, which imposes certain constraints, the standard format conforming to the expectations of the customer and the requirements of the tour operator.
The Use of Photographs
The concerns of the text are mirrored in the supporting visual material, comprised of photographs with a very small number of maps. The proportion of photographs devoted to the different features of the destination is recorded in Table 1. in which the section related to culture is broken down further to illustrate social representations and relationships more fully. Other photographs are all of Giant Pandas, almost a tourist icon for China. The final two columns contain overall averages for each country.
With regard to the Singapore brochures, nearly 80% of the photographs are devoted to natural and historic resources in almost equal proportion, and 13% depict modern cities and residents in a contemporary setting. Residents in native costumes are shown in 8% of photographs, usually pursuing traditional activities. There are no photographs of tourists enjoying assorted holiday activities or of tourists and residents together.
In the UK brochures. 57% of the photographs show scenes of landscape and heritage, with greater prominence given to the latter: 23% are of hotel accommodations and 3% of modern cities. Residents in traditional dress and/or engaging in traditional activities are shown in 14% of the photographs. There are no photographs of residents in a contemporary setting or of tourists alone, and only one of tourists and residents, where the former are seen rnaking a purchase in a shop.
Landscape and heritage thus emerge as key elements of the visual presentation. Applying Dann's model, the photographs mainly convey a "contrived" paradise with a marked absence of people. On the few occasions that they are included, it is principally as residents in native costume following traditional trades or pursuits ("paradise confused"). Settings of "paradise confined," where only tourists feature, are absent, and there is a single example of "paradise controlled," where tourists and locals share the photograph. Functions performed by locals can be identified as those of scenery, cultural markers, and entertainers, with one case of a vendor at work, and none of seducers, intermediaries, or familiars. These photographs tend to display stereotypical images of the East, such as pagodas, temples, mist rising on mountains, and willow-pattern scenes. Trishaw drivers and coolie-hatted peasants working in rice fields appear, as well as women of the ethnic minority tribes in their elaborate and colorful costumes. These conventional views are offset by some of a more modern urban environment and way of life, but these are uncommon and more likely to be found in the Singapore brochures.
Host and Guest Cultural Relations
In order to address the issue of neo-colonization, it is necessary to examine the ways in which relations between the societies of the visitor and visited are expressed. This is complicated by the point already noted that local people are largely ignored, which in itself may be interpreted as indicative of their perceived insignificance, but sonic observations can be made based on the limited evidence available.
Photographs perhaps are more revealing than the text in terms of portraits of residents, and a higher proportion of those in the UK brochures look to the past to display them in the context of traditional activities and dress. It could be argued that native people are being used here to communicate a sense of rustic charm and background color, which is essentially demeaning. Nevertheless, customs are only caught sight of and mainly confined in the text to Folk Villages and staged performances; the former are clearly living museums and there is no suggestion that this is how all residents do, or should, live. The, Singapore brochures, however, do exhibit a greater willingness to acknowledge contemporary realities, with more pictures of modern cities and their inhabitants. Reference is made to busy and bustling urban areas so that the extent of modernization and development is more apparent.
With regard to die written text, phrases such as those that describe Shanghai as the Paris of the East or "most European of cities" (Thomas Cook), and the tendency of operators to claim ownership of the country (as in Bales), might be considered the language of appropriation and imperialism. Premier records, with an apparent assumption that it should be a matter of surprise, that "when Marco Polo visited the country he found a people whose cities and cultures surpassed Europe in terms of wealth and splendour." This adoption of Western standards against which to measure the qualities of the East is not confined to the UK brochures, as Suzhou is labeled the Venice of the East and Oriental Venice by Ananda and Ken-Air, respectively. Yalln,- Bay is the Hawaii of Hainan, according to SA, Dadonghai Beach is also awarded the accolade of Hawaii of the East by Ananda, and the Min-, Dynasty Waxworks Museum becomes the Chinese Louvre (Ken-Air).
There are also signs of a patronizing tone adopted by UK brochure writers when advising their customers what to expect. Potential visitors are told by "Thomas Cook that "nowhere prepares you for China. Little, if any, concession is made to woo the Western visitor. Those looking for luxury should seek it elsewhere." There are no "home comforts" or "fine cuisine" here. Premier warns that "outside of Hong Kong the degree of spoken English is limited and the standard of accommodation and transport open to criticism" and Beijing is "relatively inexperienced in tourism terms" with "occasional lapses in organisation" The capital is "quickly developing into a cosmopolitan city with man), western influences, however it still has a long way to go before catching up with the glamour and neon of Hongkong."
Euphemistically, Kuoni writes of travel in China as "a real adventure". Some accommodation is "below the standard expected," "special diets cannot always be satisfactorily catered to," trains and coaches are "clean and comfortable, but may vary in age," and domestic flights are "subject to change, sometimes at the last minute." Companies would probably respond that they are merely being realistic and responsible in making these statements, which also serve to deflect future criticism by unhappy or disappointed customers-, nevertheless, they can still be seen as embodying a position of superiority, especially when such qualifications and warnings are not found in the Singapore brochures, whose customers enjoy a similar lifestyle to those in the West.
There are thus some contrasts between the two sets of brochures regarding attitudes to the host culture and society, and UK operators might be accused of demonstrating a sense of superiority with overtones of imperialism. Despite this, the differences are not always striking and the companies appear to be using similar methods to present the destinations. The existence of a Western neo-colonial agenda and collusion in it of Singapore operators is debatable, but signs of the formulation and communication of a conventional, and at times contrived, view of China are more easily detectable.
The greatest emphasis in the brochures of both countries is given to scenic and heritage attraction, which are described in somewhat exaggerated language stressing their outstanding and unique qualities. By comparison local people and traditional and contemporary society accupy a less prominent role and culture tends to be presented in a historic context. Limited attention is also given to urban areas and shopping, while full accounts of accommodation only appear in the brochure of the UK. It would thus seem that customers of both nationalities are perceived as wanting to be impressed by natural landscapes an historical sites while seeking some excitement in modern urban areas, which includes new shopping opportunities. Singaporeans enjoy shopping and eating, while the British are concerned about where they will be staying. There are variations in emphasis among the companies, however, in their packaging, presentation, and promotion of the holidays.
Irrespective of country of origin and company, the material suggests that there is an interest in seeing places with a landscape, heritage, and culture that are different from one's own, and these images of sites and locals placed in a nonchallenging framework, of the conventional and expected embody that difference or exoticism. Ways in ",filch Eastern countries are depicted can be criticized and dismissed as a myth, but it is perhaps one that exercises a powerful appeal to Orientals themselves as well as Westerners, and one in which everyone willingly participates. Western domination may be partly responsible for shaping and perpetuating the myth or indoctrinating Asians into accepting it, and the international travel industry may make a major contribution to the process. There are, however, other possible influences, such as the needs of travelers to experience the "other" at first hand or nontravelers to believe in it, and the significance to residents of articulating a sense of national identity through the adoption and expression of these signs and symbols.
These conclusions remain tentative and do not fully support the theory that there is a marked difference between Eastern and Western tour operators in their presentation of the East and perception of what customers want, or that there is a process of social control and neo-colonization under way. This study's limitations must be stressed. including the general nature of some of the comparisons, the lack of detailed semiotic discussion, and distortions arising from the brochure selection. More evidence needs to be collected and further examination is required of print material and responses to it among cultures of the East and West before any firm conclusions call be derived about the. psychological, sociological, and even political processes at wort, in brochure production, presentation, and interpretation. The application of semiotics would appear to be a very valuable analytical tool in uncovering hidden meanings and messages, permitting further research into their conception, transmission, and reception. What can be concluded from this preliminary study is that the brochure is much more than a sales and marketing tool and should be read from these other perspectives in order to full,, appreciate its significance.