Tourism : « We leave to forget the world rather than to discover it »
By going to the other side of the world, you intended to blend into the exotic, forget your daily life quite grey. But surprised when you arrived, more and more of you had the same idea. In full restaurants or on crowded beaches, every holidaymaker, camera and guide at by hand, sadly reminds you of your condition as a tourist: you are one of thousands.
The enchantment is broken.
From the explosion of low-cost offers to environmental threats, sociologist Rodolphe Christin delivers a bitter reflection on the tourism industry, which alienates everyone and threatens the balance of the planet.
Tourismophobia is flourishing in Europe.
Tourism is the product of a history related to paid holidays. Since then, the trade union, associative and religious leaders have sought to make the most of employees’ free time, while contributing to their education. The « social tourism » has developed, offering activities and summer camps for the most wealthy. Then the companies took over, expanding the tourist offer.
Very quickly, going on holiday became a norm. And that has never been more true than it is today.
Few people don’t ask you where you’re going this summer. And if this is not the case, you are almost perceived as a marginal.
What remains of the links between travel and tourism today ?
Not much, actually. Travel is an almost philosophical quest, the search for knowledge about oneself, others and the world. But tourism can hardly respond to it, because it has become an entertainment industry. By leaving, everyone tries to make the most of their free time. Especially, we leave to forget the world rather than to discover it.
The experience of discovery seems limited to me. We have little access to each other’s reality. As a member of the that as a holidaymaker, we are perceived as a source of profit. Most of the time, we only meet tourists or service providers in restaurants, bars, hotels…. We therefore operate in closed circuit.
Tourism is born with the end of the adventure, and as soon as you leave on foot, on horseback or in a horse-drawn carriage, you risked not reaching your destination, suffering because of the bad weather… Space was a test. For tourism to develop, travel had to become insignificant. And that’s what we’re seeing today: take the highway stations, stations, airports, they’re functional, sanitized places that are similar all over the world. Apart from the irritation and boredom, not much can happen to you.
How mass tourism challenges the global balance of the planet….
Tourist realities are also becoming unbearable for locals. Going to get your bread can become complicated when your city is constantly being invaded by a horde of tourists. Not to mention the The problems that this influx poses in environmental terms: water purification, waste treatment, pollution… Let us not be surprised then to see the development in Barcelona as elsewhere of anti-tourist » protest movements.
Mass tourism has its consequences.
However, can one blame someone for wanting to benefit from the better than his one week’s vacation of the year ?
Of course not, of course not. But if everyone had access to the underside of reality, I think we would take less than pleasure to leave. It’s like knowing that your t-shirt was made by children in the factory, you’d probably have some qualms about wearing it, wouldn’t you?
Tourism works thanks to an « ideal of enchantment », as the sociologist Yves Winkin has shown. We sells you an exoticism, a lost island… that doesn’t really exist. First of all because the island in question is not not as wild as you think, and that you’re the umpteenth person to go there this month. Even if it is if everything has been organized to make you feel alone in the world, it’s not true. Everything has been calculated for that you take this path rather than another.
There is no escape from the tourism industry ?
It is still difficult… But we could first focus on the itinerary rather than the destination. Some of them leave in the mountains to change air, but the journey they take by plane contributes to polluting it. It’s a little bit like paradoxical.
The ideal would be to leave as much as possible on foot or by bike to experience the transition from home to the destination.
Because there is still a transformative logic in moving. The travel residue is found in this experience there. The writer Nicolas Bouvier stated that « the journey begins on his doorstep« .
This has never been more true.