A Critical Perspective – OPINION
A tourist is a participant in the act of exchange. A tourist exchanges a portion of their “everyday life” for experiences that are unique in comparison. These experiences may offer the tourist rest, relaxation, excitement, challenge, revitalization, cultural awareness, enlightenment…
What determines a destination, as it relates to the tourist, is subjective- it is in the eyes of the beholder. That is to say, a person who has never wandered outside of their own surroundings may consider the adjacent village a tourist destination. Whereas, the seasoned traveler may consider commercial destinations “tourist traps” and seek out more “authentic” destinations.
The tourist is also a participant in the act of exchanging currency. The money spent to gain a “sacred experience” is in return money used to provide the experience. There has been much debate and study regarding the positive/negative influence of currency in tourism. Look at it this way, it’s difficult to gain “enrichment” without it costing something.
The documentary “Framing the Other” is a good example of tourism and exchange. Since the Hinay Villagers have become subjects of the “travelers gaze,” their cultural norms are shifting. Tourists seek the experience of meeting/seeing a community unique to their own everyday lives. The Hinay seek money in exchange for tourist visiting their everyday community. A benefit is that the influx of tourist dollars have helped the Hinay village survive during times of hardships; particularly during periods of long droughts. However, the more each party agrees to the exchange, the more currency that is reinvested. As a result, cultural norms shift for the Hinay and the tourist experience is less authentic.
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