Travelling has currently become a fashion, from travelling to work, and slow paced movement to learn about history, go back in time we have become the aggressive globalized tourist. Tourism today is the great soporific. A huge confidence trick and gives people the dangerous idea that there is something interesting in their lives. Their musical chairs reverse … all the upgrades in existence lead to the same airports, and resorts, the same pine colada nonsense. The tourists feel euphoric with dropping of accountability, they are flashing trendy sloppy clothes, and smile shiny smiles it helps them forget who they really are, the salary slaves with heads full of global success rubbish, travel is the latest fantasy that the 20th century has left us, the delusion that going somewhere helps you reinvent yourself.
Today we no more have travellers, we have tourists, be it on a pleasure trip to Bali, or a pilgrimage trip to shabarimala, and we also have the spiritual travellers.
No matter what my grouse and venom against tourism, there is a huge economic activity that happens, with planning tours, gone are the days when we travelled to destination with relatives and parked in their house feed on their hospitality, tourism today begins with planning, there are tour operators who plan your itinerary including stay, then are the more unstructured travellers book their own tickets even then it does involve another party maybe the ticketing agent or a website that does it but it involves a financial transaction, then the stay at the destination, the food. In places of historic interest we have associated revenue creators in the form of tourist guides. In places of pilgrimage we talk of the clergy that render services. Then there are the souvenir shops local transport eateries etc… All this is great.
Today, specific travel attitudes and methodologies are as carefully calibrated as attire worn on a first date which is rather absurd. The places visited are only the famous cities and landmark thankfully, strictly hewing to the instructions of latest Lonely planet, it is equally idiotic not to go to a landmark or city just because it is popular, the net effect is the same, the tourist wants a merit badge to earn and flaunt, saw this, did that, crashed out on calangute beach, had a speed race from Dona Paula to Bamboli… every resident on that road sincerely blessed you that you and your noisy bike would crash into oblivion.
But this comes with a price to the host society. I am not a travel tourism person; I am traveller and can share only what I have seen in places picking up small examples
The huge influx of tourists in goa, the tourist population is three times the population of the resident we have speeding vehicle, who are irresponsibly parked. Large influx of tourist buses, they need parking place. Despite parking place designated for them we find them parked where ever.
We particularly live in an environment protected zone, but 1000 trees have been slaughtered to create this road for drunken tourists, who molest the local girls.
Loud shouting in public places drunken misbehaviour.
Smoking in public spaces.
In places of pilgrimage, particularly like Hari ke Pauri during Ganga dussehra, or Udupi during Ashtami we see, people shitting, spitting or peeing in public spaces, the sanctity of the place is gone.
the loud tourist on his pleasure trip is a nuisance of one kind and the intellectual calibrated tourist is another pain, they come look into the houses, imagine poking into tepee or igloo’s for god sake the fact that people chose to live there does not bother the intellectual, but barging in, opening the flaps, touching, photographing and inspecting like they have the god-given right to intrude everywhere.
The enormous influx of tourists bring in greater issues like resource management, the emerging tourist culture has given rise to chains of hotels, and that takes up the resources that was otherwise meant for the local residents.
Having listed the tip of the iceberg of residents owe in tourist dominant area let’s move on to how to get responsible tourist activity.
The answer is with responsible parenting. It all starts with inculcating basic etiquettes like not peeing in public, not using swearing words, not dumping your garbage around.
If we learn how to respect the other, be it culturally or individually our behavior towards the society that we visit will be more respectful.
If we know how to respect our resources then we will bother to recycle them.
The host destination could make it slightly more do-able by providing refuse bins that are emptied at regular intervals. Pay toilets I have heard Indian tourists to Europe complain that the biggest expense that they had was the pay toilets, fair enough let’s do it.
When the tourist oversteps the boundaries then we need to treat him like a terrorist and not a guest maybe stringent action would help.
Drunken driving and speeding should be treated like intent to kill. That invites really imprisonment that is non-boilable.
Loud noisy public behaviour and etching on the monuments should be treated like vandalism.
We just do away with disposable water bottles, like the Pepsi fountains, we put up fountains that work on pay slots so people refill their bottles. Instead of buying new ones.
Hotels conducted tour operators, give garbage bags so that tourists do not throw the garbage anywhere and everywhere.
People clicking selfie in the centre of the road will be punished with a fine of 10,000/Rs or will be dealt with as attempted suicide.
When I see the advertisement Athithi devobhava, and look around goa I am reminded of the fable of the camel, that requested the master to let it warm its nose during the storm. Eventually the master was out of the tent in the storm while the camel occupied the tent. We have people from Delhi coming in for “vacations” the next thing we know is they have taken the state over.