In their variety of topics and approaches, the studies collected in this volume testify to the criticality of representing personal, professional and organizational identities through the new media, as their ability to reach a virtually unlimited audience amplifies the potential political, cultural and economic impact of discursive identity constructions. They also confirm that new highly sophisticated media can forge identities well beyond the simply iconic or textual representation, generating deeply interconnected webs of meaning capable of occupying an expanding – and adaptable – discursive space.
PAOLA CATENACCIO Promoting Medical Tourism in India: Building Identity and Reputation in Health Tourism Websites 59
PAOLA CATENACCIO Promoting Medical Tourism in India: Building Identity and Reputation in Health Tourism Websites 1. Introduction During the last few years, the ever-increasing spread of globalized patterns of production and consumption has led to the establishment of novel modes of service provision and utilization. Among the numerous phenomena this has given rise to, a particularly interesting one is medical tourism. Roughly defined as “the deliberate attempt on the part of a tourist facility […] or destination […] to attract tourists by promoting health care services and facilities in addition to regular tourist amenities” (Goodrich 1993: 37), or, more prosaically, “the outsourcing of medical services […] to low-cost countries” (Bies/ Lefteris 2007: 1145), medical tourism represents the modern-day evolution of an age-long tradition of travel for health purposes. But while spas and sanatoriums are the obvious antecedents of exotically located contemporary clinics, the differences between these two types of facilities (and the services they offer) may be quite substantial. In particular, whereas traditional health tourism – with few exceptions – seldom involved actual medical treatment, relying instead on the ‘incidental benefits’ of staying ‘in amenable, relaxing contexts’, 21st-century medical tourism “is deliberately linked to medical intervention, and outcomes are expected to be substantial and long-term” (Connell 2006: 1094). The rapid emergence of this new type of niche tourism, combined with the sheer size of the phenomenon, has aroused both media and scholarly interest. The media especially have been quick to seize on the economic, social and political implications of medical Paola Catenaccio 60 tourism, with...
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