Are we Travelling with a False sense of Tourism?
We are tourists right! When we come back from our destination, what do we boast about? The journey? The Destination? or The People? The question is did we really explored the destination? or just visited the regular from the guidebook? Or did we meet any local and enjoyed local meal/places or went for a walk with them to understand their living, the place, its hidden treasures and the difficulties.
Most of us look for an outing to unwind ourselves from our daily hectic routine. The moment we see an opportunity to escape, we plan and getaway. Destination(s) depend upon the society or company we are with. If one of our friend has been to Ladakh on a bike/road trip; it becomes but obvious that most of us would go there on a bike or a four wheel drive vehicle. Given to the increased number of tourists willing to visit Ladakh and visiting Ladakh (Are we killing Ladakh? By Gyanendra Vardhan; the article which has inspired me to write this article) everything in Ladakh is “for” tourists and have been unable to cope with waste produced by the tourism.
Similarly, when we go out; we often wish to visit a place which can make our friends envy. The choice of hotel and amenities offered to make our stay blissful. Certainly, if we don’t drive to our destination(s); we hire a cab/tourist vehicle and start our day with “sight-seeing”. The typical words of the “travel agent/taxi operator” would be “sir, there are four points and I will charge Rs. 2000/- for the same”. This may change for the days one would like to stay and “points” one likes to visit.
Secondly, when we want to eat; yes, we do have our choices. Be it Indian/Mughlai/Chinese or Butter Chicken. Question props up again, did you really explored the destination? Do you actually know the place’s gastronomy? What is the staple diet/ cuisine? If it is hill/desert (different climate) – how does the cuisine changes or does it change at all? What is the delicacy of the particular area?
Third and the most important for most of us “Stay” – hotel; whatever we choose has to be of utmost quality and as per our like/dislike. Whereas, my question would be are we really looking at staying “comfortably”. We may book Taj or likes where we get all we want. But Taj is Taj anywhere with same or equivalent features and amenities. But does it give us the true picture of the destination?
After knowing all these points, agents/ companies put us through a channel of “sight-seeing” along with travel plans including air- fare/ taxi transfer/ stay in comfortable hotels and we fall prey to “False tourism” served in silver. Have we ever asked a question to ourselves that “Is this kind of package tourism enough to explore and to know the place?” We invariably live in our own bubble which needs to be broken or at least punctured to expose ourselves to the world
Vaibhav Prakash – Conservation Architect and Academician practising in the field of
Architecture and Heritage Conservation for past 8 years with eminent organizations like
INTACH, NFI and various others. All this has given him the opportunity to travel to rather less
known properties and places.