Political boundaries are invisible, vertical planes that transect land and airspace, and they mark the limits up to which a political entity may exercise its sovereign authority. Most international boundaries have been marked on the ground in various ways as tangible lines separating societies and political systems from their neighbors. International borders have traditionally been viewed as barriers to various forms of human interaction. In fact, one of their primary purposes typically has been to hinder the flow of goods, people, and ideas between nations for ideological and economic reasons (2, 13).

Geographers have a long tradition of interest in the formation process of political boundaries and their functions in social, political, and economic terms. Likewise, interest in tourism as a topic of research is increasing at an extraordinary rate among social scientists, and to a lesser extent among physical scientists, from many disciplines. Most researchers seek to understand the sociocultural, economic, political, and physical environmental impacts of tourism, as well as patterns of international tourist flows. Tourism by definition entails crossing borders in one form or another, yet with few exceptions (7, 21, 22, 23), researchers have all but overlooked the relationships between political frontiers and tourism.

The purpose of this special issue of Visions in Leisure and Business, therefore, is to address this dearth in the academic literature by examining the relationships between tourism and international boundaries. This theme issue brings together the expertise of prominent scholars in the area of political borders. All of the contributors have conducted extensive research in various parts of the world on a diverse range of border-related subjects. Here they merge their political, cultural, and economic interests with the study of tourism.