Coffee Musings: Is Tourism Bad?

Exhibit A: A touristy thing

Exhibit A: A touristy thing

If you, at any point in your life, decide to delve into the weird and wonderful world of travel bloggers, you’ll quickly notice one of two things:

1. You’re immediately consumed by a deep, unshakeable wanderlust.

2. People really fucking hate tourists.

There’s a stigma in the avid traveler’s community that tourism is bad, that you shouldn’t go visit the popular, well-known landmarks and places around the world–Paris is a cliché, the Empire State Building is overpriced, and Hawaii is for overweight white families.

There is some value in what most people are saying: that yeah, you should go off the beaten path and test your limits, and that you should be going out of your comfort zone, because that’s when you can get the most out of traveling. But does that automatically make anyone who travels to relax rather than explore bad? Let’s find out.

Since there are hundreds of different kinds of travelers, it stands to reason that there are hundreds of different kinds of tourists. And, just like there are shitty travelers, there are shitty tourists.

You know the kind: they complain about the amount of ‘foreigners’ in the country they’re staying in; they’re racist, insensitive, and refuse to learn even a few basic phrases in the native language.

These are the people who are used to being pampered, who probably have a lot of money [sorry] and naturally look down on anyone who doesn’t occupy the same social class as them/is of a different nationality or ethnicity.

These people are unforgivable assholes, and they desperately need to learn a lesson.

But not all tourists are like that. In fact, the vast majority are just working class families using their vacation hours, maybe towing along their loud children for a week in Paris, taking pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower because hey, they’ve never seen it before, and it’s super famous, even if it is slightly overrated.

Many people use travel as a much-needed break from their normal lives, a change in scenery when they don’t have much else to do. And it’s not just Americans–tourists literally come from everywhere. I have no idea why tourists are stereotyped as overweight and midwestern when high schoolers from Japan and Korea literally come to Hollywood in droves.

The reality of the situation is that not everybody has the means to drop everything and spend their lives globetrotting their way from country to country, because not everyone has the resources. Those posts on tumblr that tell you to ‘drop everything and travel the world‘ are stupid as fuck.

Of course most people would love to spend their lives seeing the world. But not everyone has the money, the time, the opportunity. Some people have responsibilities at home. Some people have health problems that prevent them from doing so. As wonderful as travel is, for most people, just surviving takes on a greater priority.

That’s why it’s important to keep in mind that if you have the resources and time travel frequently, you are so, so privileged. And as someone with privilege, it doesn’t do to look down on people who maybe get to travel once every few years, and choose to have the clichéd, happy vacation of their dreams.

ALSO, since the majority of people who go abroad are TOURISTS and not TRAVELERS, the people who visit those cheesy attractions every day make up a huge and important chunk of the local economy. Some places function almost entirely off of the revenue generated by visitors. [So hey there, wealthy, upper middle class locals? Don’t treat people like dirt because they can’t pronounce things]

Basically, get your heads out of your asses. [And I’m sorry if this came off as unnecessarily aggressive and rambling]

Happy Sunday,

3 thoughts on “Coffee Musings: Is Tourism Bad?

  1. EmelyeKay says:

    THANK YOU for saying so much of this! I once had someone ask me, “why did you waste your time at the Grand Canyon? All the tourists go there.” True, it was definitely crowded but it was also damn beautiful and I don’t regret seeing it for a second.

    Liked by 1 person

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