Geographia Polonica (2020) vol. 93, iss. 4

Borderscapes and tourismscapes: The place of postcards in Mexican border town tourism

Dallen J. Timothy

Geographia Polonica (2020) vol. 93, iss. 4, pp. 553-568 | Full text

Since the early 1900s, Mexico’s northern border towns became important tourism destinations, receiving more foreign tourists than any other areas of Mexico. Historically, postcards followed the development of tourism in the borderlands, depicting unique border-oriented tourismscapes and life in general, and establishing an iconic image of the border as a rowdy, promiscuous and decadent location where Americans could spend their holidays abroad and participate in tourisms of vice. Until the 2000s, tourism in the US-Mexico border zone was overwhelmingly leisure oriented, and the proliferation of postcards illustrated that fact. Today, there are few postcards left and the ones that do remain are less focused on the border itself, as they once were; instead, they focus on the broader community with less emphasis on the borderline. Changes in border tourism from leisure pursuits to medical tourism and alcohol consumption, growing security concerns, and the proliferation of mobile phones and social media have almost entirely eliminated postcard use as a souvenir and marker of regional tourism identity in the US-Mexico borderlands.

Keywords: borders • tourism • postcards • Mexico • United States • landscapes

Dallen J. Timothy [], School of Community Resources and Development Arizona State University 411 N. Central Avenue, Suite 550, 85004, Phoenix, Arizona: USA; School of Tourism and Hospitality University of Johannesburg Johannesburg: South Africa; College of Tourism Hunan Normal University Changsha: China