The sociologist Rodolphe Christin has published "Manuel de l'antitourisme" published by Yago.
Rodolphe Christin is a sociologist and anthropologist by training. He published "Manual of Antitourism" published by Yago.

Has tourism killed the spirit of travel?

  Between Two Journeys

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct 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 traveller?

The sociologist Rodolphe Christin has published "Manuel de l'antitourisme" published by Yago.
Rodolphe Christin is a sociologist and anthropologist by training. He published "Manual of Antitourism" published by Yago.

In his Antitourism HandbookRodolphe Christin goes back to the subject of the traveller versus the tourist. He strongly denounces the socio-ecological damage caused by the tourist industry. But above all, his book gives us food for thought on what the fact of wanting to "go on holiday" says 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 are sometimes of travel in our tourism and always of tourism in our travels"recalls Rodolphe Christin. True enough!

In the late morning, tourists invade Maya Beach on the island of Koh Phi Phi Leh in Thailand. This is where the film "The Beach" was shot with Bernardo Di Caprio and Virginie Ledoyen.
In the late morning, tourists invade Maya Beach on the island of Koh Phi Phi Leh in Thailand. This is where the film "The Beach" was shot with Bernardo Di Caprio and Virginie Ledoyen.

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 society has turned travel into 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 ...

Interview with Rodolphe Christin, Antitourism Handbook, Ouest-France, October 25, 2008Why do you say that tourism is "anti-travel"?
- 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.

So the exoticism promised by tour operators is just 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 it is the world's leading economic activity. The paradox of tourism is that it kills what it lives on. Everywhere on the planet, the environment is being massacred to make places "welcoming". Concrete coastlines, car parks, 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 and destroys.

You make it sound like you'd rather not go on holiday anymore!
- 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 get back the spirit of the journey?
- 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 with an eulogy of slowness: he suggests that we leave as few traces as possible around us on our travels. And also to "make the effort to take a step aside.".

It is an invitation to slip into the meshes of everyday life, " those gaps here and there that the official circuits superbly, if not accidentally, ignore ". Little excerpt:

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 outside of oneself, the harmless one surrounds himself with a particular aura, he displays his presence inside the consciousness. This is how the journey 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 travel?

ADDED January 19, 2009. On the same theme, I invite you to discover my fresh experience of "all inclusive" tourism in the Dominican Republic in this post →. The torments and joys of "todo incluido"....

  Between Two Journeys

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  1. As I fell early from my bed, I had a little trouble at first reading of the definition of exoticism. I told myself, at a second reading, that exoticism is at the fingertips of everyone, right next door. It can be a perfume, a spice, a face, a situation, or even a typical restaurant of distant lands.

    In short, everything that does not reflect the education rooted in our cerebral hippocampus, whose primary vision does not usually push for opening to crops with diverse horizons. But as soon as the hunger exacerbated pushes this spinal region to feast on 5 senses very different from those of the local restaurant, then we turn resolutely to the exotic.

    As to whether the exotic is better for the one who would have remained several months, taking his time, discovering, it is not sure that this mode of transhumance momentary run away from the mercantile side of travel ... always organized even by oneself. Because to look at it, whether in the West, East, North or South, each civilization or people now knows the progress of next and the Western wealth that is measured more often to the currency fiduciaire .

    Let there be no mistake, inner wealth is a value that still exists but we often taste it mutually for a moment, for an exotic trip ... Everything goes so fast, everything changes so quickly. And what if exoticism were to disappear for lack of a creeping and pleasant mix ?? 🙄 I think I have to become aware of this universal risk in me, via a detour that opens "the doors of the world" ... 💡

  2. I think your point of view is quite close to that of the sociologist, in the background: the exotic is at everyone's fingertips, right next door.

  3. Hello Corinne,

    I did not come for some time on your blog, but this morning I almost fell backwards! ... Where is this little blog ultra friendly journalist mopped backpack, on which one felt "like to the house "? ... Now Corinne new version, with a model ultra-pro, very magazine, and very effective.

    Does that sound a little familiar or am I mistaken?... 😉

    Bravo in any case for this complete turn, it's clean, clear and precise. I'm a bit lost at the moment with all the illustrations but I'll find my marks very quickly. And I think you're on the right track for the next step... 🙂

    As for thinking about the trip, I'm gonna swallow my tea and come back ...

  4. interesting! I think we can talk about hours around a good Bintang!
    In my opinion, the journey, the one that enriches us with its encounters and discoveries, is a luxury, that of time! It takes time to make a real trip ... time to get lost off the beaten track, time to stop more than a day in a place, time to enter a contemplative state, time to share more than a cigarette with locals ...
    I had 6 months time, an incredible chance. Unfortunately, this will not happen to me every year! I am going to find my 5 weeks of paid annual leave and I am afraid of having to go from being a tourist to a tourist state, even if a trip always changes our way of apprehending life.

  5. @ A World Elsewhere:
    What a pleasure to see you here, Marie-Ange! Since this summer, the blog has indeed evolved, but in progressive stages. And I must say that a certain blog that I know well has indeed inspired me! 😉
    But for my part, I did not want to transform mine too much into "magazine". I took a long time to find a theme (made by an Indonesian, plus!) That keeps the philosophy of the blog (the tickets continue to succeed on the home page), while offering a look and more functions dynamic. But I see that you finally came back, on A World Elsewhere, to a presentation "blog" ...
    I especially hope that this evolution, which I made sure to do by little touches, gently, does not make him lose too much his "ultra nice" and "like at home", because I continue and will continue to feed during my mops backpack. The main novelty, in fact, is that I now make it live more actively between two trips. Good reading…

    @ Marie-Net:
    Oh, yes! A Bintang! 😀
    I am entirely on this point: the real luxury is to have time. I am fortunate enough to be able to organize rather long parentheses, compared to the usual lengths of holidays. I am therefore a tourist who has a little more time than others to savor his travels.
    Many people find it difficult to understand that I can for example "tap" ten days in a row or more, somewhere, just because I feel good. Or on the contrary, that I zap live elsewhere, according to my mood, when a place does not please me. Without reservation constraint, nothing. What freedom! What luxury!
    And I'm thinking of really taking the time, one day, as you had the chance to do. Several months in a row, to return to Asia, but quietly, by land ...
    In the meantime, even in our "tourist" getaways I think there is room for the spirit of the trip.

  6. Very interesting, this reflection addressed in your interview. I agree with the sociologist on the merits (yes, even if we do not want this label, all travelers are also tourists), but I still find that these discussions end up going in circles. Tourism is a mega-industry that also provides jobs around the world. Even if the "locals" rarely benefit from its fallout, the fact remains that many would not have enough to live without it. I feel a great deal of discomfort when I go (rarely, but I still get to go) to resorts, especially because the majority of tourists who stay there are not aware of their surroundings. At the same time, these people are clearly not looking for exoticism (at least, not the definition I'm getting at it), but for a respite, a comfortable little "bubble" where take refuge to catch their breath. Is it bad? To the extent that it is assumed and left as little trace as possible, trying to be as ethical as possible, it does not seem to me to be a crime.
    As for my definition of exoticism, it is very variable. At the moment, with the snow that is beginning to fall on Quebec and my relative sedentarity, I have the exoticism much less capricious! lol But even if I'd like to find him at the corner of my street, to rediscover him again and again close to home, he usually goes through a long-haul flight ... To find myself "out of me", I I need to get out of my context. To have a real decline.
    As for the slowness, it is the ultimate luxury of our time (especially here, we who arrive painfully to have 2, sometimes 3 weeks of holidays per year).
    (I do not know if all this is consistent, I still have my brain stuck with mucus and I'm falling asleep!)

  7. Yes, yes, all that is very coherent! And sums up pretty well the paradoxes raised by Rodolphe Christin in his book.

    He himself does not want to pose as a "judge," he told me. He examines our behavior with his sociological look, tries to open our eyes to this mega-industry that is tourism. And if he does not deny certain economic spinoffs, he feels, like you, that the "locals" benefit little.

    As for the "respite", the "bubble" that so many of us aspire to, the sociologist's point is not to say that it is a crime. But just that it reveals a certain malaise of our society, of our daily life. With the perverse effect of making us often blind to the realities of the countries visited.

    I must say that my exoticism to me also goes through the long haul flight more often. (But maybe I'll be able to clear some time for a long and slow journey overland?) One thing is certain: I like being away, I like to lose my bearings. There is something exhilarating, dizzying, to be known thousands of kilometers from its usual environment. And to find out what really matters once you get out of your routine and out of the ordinary. The sensitivity is exacerbated again, life seems denser, richer. And, yes, of course, it would take more than a few weeks a year ...


  8. "One thing is sure: I like to be far, I like to lose my bearings. There is something exhilarating, dizzying, to be known thousands of kilometers from its usual environment. And to find out what really matters once you get out of your routine and out of the ordinary. The sensitivity is exacerbated again, life seems denser, richer. "

    I copy-paste: it's exactly THAT!

  9. Ah ... As for me, I could copy and paste this beautiful post titled Exoticism that you published late August.

    I think I can say without being too wrong that our two sensibilities are quite close on this subject ...


  10. Hello Corinne, I see the trip as a eulogy of slowness. The trip can allow us to relearn how to take the time. Even with a few holidays in the year it is possible to break the rhythm of our dailies. Often the imperatives of work and family do not leave us time to stop to realize that the change of scenery is sometimes down from home. Traveling is a state of mind it is not going away. To travel is to open one's eyes to what is happening to watch. To travel is to take the time to listen to an unknown person. To travel is not to avoid one's daily life. To travel is not to judge, it is to know how to receive and to give. To travel is to be transported by a feeling, an emotion, an encounter.

  11. @ Sylvie: She is interesting and very fair, your definition of the trip. I also subscribe to this eulogy of slowness, to the idea that travel is more in "the state of mind" than in "departure". Although, for my part, I need a real break with my daily life to feel "transported", a break that often goes through a departure ... Many thanks for this great contribution, which invites us to travel also by opening more eyes on what surrounds us.

  12. Hello Corinne,
    first thank you for the link of my blog on your site,
    I would not fail to do the same on mine that I would be out of qq worries about an unplanned vacation from my hard drive, lloll,
    in cybers, hard to work as you want.
    This reflection on the trip is very relevant, I summarize for my part to these words: ELOGE OF LENTEUR.
    Over the days I will continue to enjoy your blog,

  13. @ travelerasi: Yes, I note with pleasure that we are many here to share this "philosophy of slowness" on a trip ... I will also on my side continue to "savor" your blog (the word is nice). See you soon by interposed blogs!

  14. Hello,

    Interesting, I did not know this book, I will try to get it!
    In the same vein, I advise you "The Idiot of the trip: Stories of tourists" Jean-Didier Urbain, another sociologist.

    And "Theory of travel: poetics of geography" by Michel Onfray.
    Some passages here:

    Have a nice week end !


  15. Very interesting the point of view on the journey, traveler ... Who if he does not pay attention, it becomes difficult, even impossible according to the countries (Vietnam, Thailand), falls in the "tourism".

    I share your opinion, and yet we have just launched, which can find a fellow traveler, a teammate for an expedition ...?

    Does giving a helping hand to the sharing of the adventure is perhaps depriving some meetings? ... Does this comfort away from the trip or, on the contrary ... The trip is shared?