Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic Google translation from a post originally written in French. My apologies for the weird sentences and the funny mistakes that could have been generated during the process. If you can read French, click on the French flag below to access the original text:
I met sociologist Rodolphe Christin a few days ago for an interview. He is the author of Antitourism Handbook, published by Yago. A little book "hair scratch", in which he invites us to give meaning to our travels.
Tourist or traveler?
In his Antitourism HandbookRodolphe Christin goes back on what opposes the traveler to the tourist. He virulently denounces the socio-ecological damage caused by the tourism industry. But above all, his book gives food for thought about what "wanting to go on vacation" means about us, about our society.
Of course, there are many different ways to travel. But whether it's an all-inclusive "package", "dry flight", "adventure" tour or "fair" stay, let's keep in mind that we Westerners, who travel for our pleasure, are necessarily tourists. " There is sometimes of travel in our tourism and always tourism in our travels », recalls Rodolphe Christin. Not false !
I did not mention it in my article, but I like one of the reflections he makes in his book, saying that the real adventure today is not so much on the side of some "explorers "Highly publicized that make viewers dream, but rather among travelers of migration.
For those who take insane risks to leave, hoping for a better life elsewhere ... That's fair enough.
The interview: "Our leisure company has made travel a consumer product"
I give you below, the text of the interview published in Ouest-France, Saturday, October 25, 2008. Because of lineage limited, this is of course only a summary version of our interview ...
Why do you say that tourism is an "antivoyage"?
- To travel is to obey a nomadic impulse, a little libertarian, that drives us to adventure, discovery, knowledge. But our leisure society has made travel a consumer product. We are sold on a catalog of sun or snow, entertainment or exoticism. Destination often matters less than price, comfort, service, decor. The tourist service has replaced the spirit of the trip.
The exoticism promised by the tour operators is only an illusion?
- The tourist industry tends to erase exoticism, as a culture and aesthetic shock, even existential. Transportation is organized, sites are developed, standardized hotels. Even for independent travelers, it is difficult to get off the marked trails.
You denounce virulently the misdeeds of the tourist industry ...
- Today is the world's leading economic activity. The paradox of tourism is that it kills what it lives. Everywhere on the planet, we are killing the environment to make places "welcoming". Concrete coasts, parking lots, excessive water consumption ... Tourists represent a tiny minority of the world's population, but they have a major impact on the places they visit. Tourism exploits, pollutes, destroys.
To hear you, it would be better not to go on vacation!
- No, but maybe we should travel differently. Give priority to the destination. Leave less often, longer, less far away. Some blame themselves by turning to "fair" or "sustainable" tourism. I do not doubt their sincerity. But it remains a tourist product.
How to rediscover the spirit of the trip?
- leaving room for the unexpected, the lived, the meeting. By also trying to be a little more lucid about our way of life. We leave to escape a daily not always very exciting. It may be this daily that should be reinvented. The escape sometimes lies in a simple walk near home. Travel is a reverie, a philosophy, a curiosity. He begins on the doorstep.
Praise of slowness
The sociologist concludes his book on a eulogy of slowness: he suggests we leave as few traces as possible around us while traveling. And also "Make the effort one step aside".
It is an invitation to slip into the meshes of everyday life, "These interstices from here and elsewhere that the official circuits ignore superbly, if not accidentally". Small extract:
It is also this exoticism, this part of not seen, not lived, that the journey, because it changes the perspectives and causes new experiences, allows to discover and to experiment despite the discomfort - mental more that physical -, uncertainty, sometimes fear. Discover, meet, for better and for worse.
To be there, really there, leads the consciousness outside, out of our horizons and the ordinary contours of our subjectivity, thanks to a full receptivity, exacerbated by the change of context, where we collect the world like water from the source in the hollow of his hands.
Once out of self, the innocuous surrounds itself with a particular aura, it displays its presence inside the consciousness. This is how travel allows access to the universal in itself, via a detour that opens "the doors of perception".
And you, what is your definition of exoticism? Do you feel like you have the spirit of the trip?
ADDED January 19, 2009. On the same theme, I invite you to discover my fresh experience of tourism in "all inclusive" in the Dominican Republic in this post → The pangs and joys of "todo incluido".