1.1 Backround of the Study
In the past years, a psychoactive Amazonian indigenous brew traditionally used for spiritual and healing purposes, called ayahuasca has been gaining popularity amongst multiple countries and social circles, thus the interest in shamanic rituals being as strong as ever. „…men who become instant traditional healers or ayahuasqueros without undergoing any apprenticeship period, without having any teachers, and without control. They provide American and European tourists mixtures of ten or more different hallucinogenic plants to help them become embedded in the universe and to provide mystical experiences for them” (DeRios, 1994). “Traditional cultural use of sacred plants has attracted international attention, producing a phenomenon that Dobkin de Rios (1994) referred to as “drug tourism.” (Winkleman, 2005). This growing interest has created new entries in the hospitality market. Being facilitated as a rather accessible tourist attraction, anyone interested can book a reservation through online channels or websites of the facilities promising such an experience. “…indigenous and mestizo communities in the Amazon Basin have been experiencing a unique type of tourism recently: ayahuasca tourism.” (Holman, 2011).
1.2 Aims and Objectives
This paper aims to create an analysis of ayahuasca tourism by corelating it to the needs and motifs of the typical leisure traveller and taking into account the expansion of this concept (touristic packages promising enlightening experiences etc…) in order to determine whether it’s possible for it to become a mainstream traveling trend considering the late exposure through mainstream media.
The following research dissertation is divided into three main parts. The first part will analyse the concept and public perception of ayahuasca before and after it’s exposure to the media and hospitality market based on the availability and accessibility of such tourist attractions to the large public. “Fueled by cultural voyeurism and the presence of third-party commercial brokers, ayahuasca tourism resonates within a paradigm that pivots on the socio-economic differences between those who visit the Amazon and those who reside there”. (Holman, 2011)
The second part will portray the motifs and reasons of tourists seeking this experience based on a pre-existing research and determine whether the motivations of studied participants would prove similar to those of the general consumer seeking a new experience.
The third part will analyse current alternatives and reception of such “ayahuasca resorts”. This part will conclude whether it can turn into a mainstream traveling trend based on data collected and statistics showing interest gained in the past years (charts showing number of internet searches, articles written, reviews etc…).