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?
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!
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 ...
Why 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?