Sender and receiver

The terms ‘Sender’ and ‘Receiver’ fall under the vocabulary of tourism geography. Can they be used appropriately?

Terms widely used to analyse international tourism

In his publication on this approach, Georges Cazes (1989) writes:

Purveyors and collectors. All countries in the world are both in a position to receive — they are called ‘receivers’ — and to send or ‘supply’ — the term ‘sender’ has become popular — international tourists.

Georges Cazes, 1989: p. 22

Both terms are therefore used in this work to discuss the circulation of international travellers. But they have also been used at other territorial levels. Their use is linked to a flow system that reduces individuals to objects that circulate according to ‘attractions’ and obstacles or, on the contrary, ‘aids’ encountered in the course of their journey.

How should these terms be handled?

While we are indebted to researchers at the time for having incorporated the subject of tourism into the geographical sciences, a closer look at the legacy is needed. All science progresses only through a critical inventory of statements that are taken as a given at a given moment in time. With this in mind, it seems to us that these terms can no longer be used today. They come from a perspective that denies people their capacities, skills and agency. Tourists choose destinations based on their depictions and their plans.

On the one hand, values structure decisions. Some are collective, such as tanning, which is popular in North America and in Europe, or the aesthetics of white skin, which prevails in China and India. Others are individual, or shared by specific groups, such as nudism. Interiority and ways of being are also involved, as a tourist is first and foremost an individual with his or her own experience, beliefs, lifestyle, etc.

On the other hand, as tourism makes it possible to let go of the constraints of daily life, individual experience in previous periods also weighs on choices. The Covid pandemic notably increased the need to circulate, socialise, and have a change of scenery, and each break led to a wave of departure. Furthermore, in general, after a challenging year, the mind more readily lends itself to rest than to an intense experience of exploration.

Therefore within this vocabulary which suggests that international tourism is a game between nations or territories — some sending, others receiving — other concepts should be used instead which clearly express the individual’s capacity to choose in a dialogical perspective inspired by both Bourdieu (1979) and Lahire (1998). We suggest such terms be replaced with ‘country of arrival’ and ‘country of departure’, which give tourists back their agency.

Philippe Violier


  • Bourdieu Pierre, 1979, La Distinction. Critique sociale du jugement. Paris, Les Éditions de minuit, 670 p.
  • Cazes Georges, 1989, Le tourisme international mirage ou stratégie d’avenir? Paris, Hatier, J. Brémond, 196 p.
  • Lahire Bernard, 1998, L’Homme pluriel. Les ressorts de l’action. Paris, Nathan, 271 p.