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Peddling Paradise: The Politics of Tourism in Latin America

Kirk S. Bowman
Peddling Paradise: The Politics of Tourism in Latin America
ISBN: 978-1-58826-897-6
ISBN: 978-1-62637-141-5
2013/187 pages/LC: 2012044451
"A valuable contribution to the literature on Latin American tourism, politics and development."—Florence E. Babb, Journal of Latin American Studies

"Offers an eloquent approach to the diverse roles governments can play in policy-making, exemplified by the extreme performance differences in the international promotion of tourism between several Latin American nations.... Highly recommendable reading."—Gerda Warnholtz, Journal of Sustainable Tourism 

"Peddling Paradise breaks all new ground with its beautifully crafted explanation of national variations in the success of international tourism promotion.... Highly informative, intellectually satisfying, and just plain fun to read."—James Mahoney, Northwestern University


With tourism lauded throughout Latin America as a sure engine of economic growth, actual performance in the sector has varied to an extreme degree. Kirk Bowman asks why. Why did states become so actively involved in the tourism sector even as they were reducing their role in other sectors of the economy? Why have destinations with similar endowments differed so greatly in their success in attracting international tourists? And why does tourism in some cases contribute to broader socioeconomic development, and in other cases not?

Drawing on extensive fieldwork in eight countries between 1996 and 2011, Bowman offers a rich comparative analysis and compelling explanations for both failed policies and impressive successes in using tourism to foster development in Latin America.


Kirk Bowman is associate professor of international affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is author of Militarization, Development, and Democracy: The Perils of Praetorianism in Latin America.


  • The Puzzle of Tourism in Latin America.
  • Keys to Unlocking the Puzzle.
  • The Tourism Sector: An Overview.
  • The Politics of Choice.
  • The Constraints of Structure.
  • Contrary Cases: Brazil and Argentina in Comparative Perspective.
  • A Tale of Three Cities: Buenos Aires, Havana, and Rio de Janeiro.
  • Good News, Bad News.