I have been reading a few journal articles on tourism (when a person like me in academics takes to tourism as a hobby, this was bound to happen). I came across the article ‘A Theory of Tourism’ from a database. The article has been written in German by Hans Magnus Enzensberger in 1958. It was translated into English in 1996 and published in New German Critique.
Some of the passages in this article are so hard hitting, I thought I have to blog about it. The author of the article quotes two critiques of tourism, I am presenting part of the arguments here.
“Occidental tourism is one of the great nihilistic movements, one of the great western epidemics whose malignant effects barely lag behind the epidemics of the Middle and Far East, surpassing them instead in silent insidiousness. The swarms of these gigantic bacteria, called tourists, have coated the most distinct substances with a uniformly glistening Thomas-Cook slime, making it impossible to distinguish Caior from Honolulu …”
Nodding your head already? At least I was, when I was reading it. Remember this was written sometime before 1958 but it rings so true even today. Now, I quote part of the second critique as given in the article:
“Forty years ago, there were cozy hotels but no unruly masses … In those days tourists were comparatively rare, and there were no cheap trippers …”
Nodding your head again (well, I was shaking it vigoriously)? Well, here goes the response of Hans Magnus Enzensberger (from the same article) to both the criticisms.
“In social terms, both voices are reactions to a threat to their privilaged positiopns. Implicitly, they both demand that travel be exclusive, reserved for them and their like. They never say exactly what it is that distinguishes them from … the cheap trippers. The luxury they appropriate without a second thought is considered sinful when consumed by the mob.” (emphasis mine)
Now what do we say to this one? I think I am guilty of the thought (like the two authors quoted above) that ‘travel is my thing’ and when many others go to the same spot (like Manali), it looses its charm for me. I have to learn to be less snooty!
There are many more interesting arguments in the article and I will surely write about it in a furure post.