Subject: Tourists vs. Travelers (was #34Thanks to Fellow Travelziners#34)
Hi all,

The tourist/traveler distinction is an odd one I find. I also have to say that although I used to share Lou's view, and claim to be a traveler, I no longer find the distinction helpful and I think Johannes' point is completely valid.

Let me give just one example of how the dichotomy breaks down: The backpacking travelers who head off to India, Thailand etc. often fulfil your definition of tourists superbly: they are there to satisfy themselves, are often rude and obnoxious, and disdain the idea of tourism solely because they have not booked a 4 star hotel with a swimming pool at a resort.

I think people need to recognize that when we are on vacation/holiday/tours, we are basically tourists. We voyeuristically look at the exotic places (wherever they may be), and then go home again. Of course there is a vast range in the way people behave on such trips and I think we should all encourage sensitivity to the social, cultural, and ecological environments into which we trample. However to cast the holidaying hordes as tourists as opposed to something more, well, sophisticated, seems to condemn them to a state of being that they may not conform to. As independent travel becomes cheaper, and the vacationing public's confidence grows, it is true that more and more people are being tourists in areas they are unfamiliar with and where they are not sure how to behave.

However, we should remember that there are very many people in our nice developed world who still lack the money or confidence to branch out, and stick to obvious tourist destinations. This does not make them less sensitive to where they are, nor does it automatically make them rude or self-serving. Many are, that is certainly true, but many are not, yet would feel that describing themselves as travelers was somehow pretentious.

My final - and probably somewhat disconnected - thought is that we should also be careful, as responsible evangelists of the benefits of travel - not to castigate those very many people who simply take a holiday because they need a holiday and who want to do nothing more than stay on a beach for a week while local poorly-paid staff serve them their cocktails and international food. I can think of nothing worse for a holiday myself, but not only do these people bring money into the economies of areas that often have little else in the way of income, they also have the right to do nothing if they want to. This is not to say that I would not actively encourage such people to do something else a bit more interesting with their time (and of course, in reality, very many do), but for many the time is simply a break from work and they enjoy doing as little as possible. Undoubtedly tourists, but that does not mean they should be judged as somehow a lower class of holidaymaker.

OK - I have babbled on far too long. I do think that these are interesting debates though, and would be interested to hear the thoughts of others. I think it does us all good to step back every so often and realise how lucky most of us are to be in a position to afford to travel. Many of the posts on here attest to that, and I am pleased to be part of such an aware group. I hope I have not drifted too far off topic, and will leap into action to give some concrete hotel recommendations as soon as the opportunity arises! ;)

Best wishes to all


Jonathan Turton

--- In TheTravelzine@y..., Mary Matthews wrote: I try to think there is a distinction between travelers, who behave as guests in a country not their home and appreciate the privilege of being there, and tourists, who are mostly interested in satisfying their own wants and wishes, often in a rude, obnoxious way.