Traditionally, tourism advertising has presented striking imagery suggesting the monumental site, spectacular scenery or beach relaxation – an escape from the rigors of daily life. In recent travel advertising, place less about a location's characteristics than about people. The human component of travel – experience, storytelling, memory – has entered tourism discourse. This thesis argues that interactive and participatory forms of travel are emerging thanks to new media, which also opens up opportunities for the entrepreneurial spirit. The thesis uses concepts of network sociality and networked publics help explain the blurring of boundaries between the real and digital, increased levels of individualization through technology, and the formation of online communities. The nature of new travel communications practices are explored via three case studies related to Morocco, representing (1) an official national sponsored campaign [the print campaign for visitmorocco.com], (2) an expatriate blog enabled by digital media [mymarrakesh.com], and (3) a site developed by digital nomads benefiting from constant mobility allowed by technology [grantourismotravels.com]. Morocco emerges as an example of a new paradigm in which there is a movement away from a one-way flow of communication to a multi-directional exchange of knowledge and ideas. A new focus in the construction of place emerges in the digitally based travel realm. Important themes include the quest for experience, the creation of the desirable place, the development of on-line dialogue, and the emergence of the entrepreneurial persona. However, not only is there change in the ways in which information flows, but also in the ways that travel and 'place' are represented, and the ways in which people travel. Tourism must be considered in a multi-disciplinary mode. The findings of the research have implications for the overarching phenomenon of 'convergence culture' as well as for emerging niches such as place branding.

Keywords: tourism * new media * Morocco * network sociality * blogs* convergence culture * digital communications

Master of Arts in Global Communications at The American University of Paris.