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The Truth About Travel & Tourism

3217 words - 13 pages

As can now be considered common knowledge, the sweeping international phenomenon labelled 'globalization' has called for a review of everything we once simply knew as tourism. Some travel to 'get away', others to see new things and experience foreign cultures, while others appreciate it for the sheer spontaneity it can bring. While globalization is often accredited with the increased ease with which we can now travel (or tour, for that matter), it has also served to render the significance of travel ever more obsolete. The union of travel and globalization unleashes a myriad of direct and indirect implications; the more direct and palpable of which include economic factors such as corporate ...view middle of the document...

One such instance of this is the supposed gray area concerning the meanings and usages of the words 'traveler' and 'tourist'. Albeit rather abstract and meaningless, the classification of either the 'esteemed traveler' or 'humble tourist' is no longer a black and white issue, but more realistically, it has become more of a matter of placement on a wide spectrum or range. Placement on which essentially determines whether one in a foreign environment is there as easy prey on those seeking to exploit the hordes of naïve visitors, or those looking over and above the usual activities and itinerary based vacations, that actually seek to gain something more than souvenirs and pictures. According to Jonathan Culler in his piece, Semiotics of Tourism, "The tourist is not interested in the alibis society uses to refuncionalize its practices. The tourist is interested in everything as a sign of itself..."(127). It is the tourist, and not the traveler or even the native that becomes the target of businesses looking to capitalize on the lucrative prospect that is leisurely travel. In their continual search for 'things worth seeing', anything specifically labeled an attraction becomes a necessary destination, regardless of its authenticity or actual significance. Culler's choice of words describing the tourist as interested in everything as a sign of itself, implies the lack of emphasis being placed on alibis as to why a thing becomes commodified as an attraction by tourists, but are simply drawn to anything bearing a marker. Referring to them as "armies of semiotics", tourists"...search for signs of Frenchness, typical Italian behaviour, exemplary Oriental scenes, typical American thruways, traditional English pubs; and, deaf to the naives' explanations that thruways are just the most efficient way to get from one place to another, or that pubs are just he most convenient place to meet your friends and have a drink, or that gondolas are the natural way to get around in a city full of canals, tourists persist in regarding these objects and practices as cultural signs." (127-128).In a seemingly tireless pursuit of the 'unique', tourists are led by travel agencies and tourist-based businesses to the most mundane yet somehow exotic aspects of local life, redecorating and naming them; allowing the foreigners to assume that they are enjoying a 'once in a lifetime' experience. To everyone but those who profit from them, tourists, according to Culler are the "...lowest of the low...they are said to move in herds, droves, flocks, or swarms; docile as sheep but annoying as a plague of insects when they descend on a spot. When granted human status they are the least perceptive, most gullible, and generally most amazingly foolish beings." (128). Speaking from personal experience, that description rings a bell of familiarity from a family vacation to Orlando this past Christmas. The entire town is quite literally built around the tourists; littered with lavish...

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