“Well he looked down at my silver chain
He said I’ll give you one dollar
I said you’ve got to be jokin’ man
It was a present from me Mother
He said I like it I want it
I’ll take it off your hands
And you’ll be sorry you crossed me
You’d better understand that you’re alone
A long way from home”
Dreadlock Holiday – 10CC from Bloody Tourists 1978
The lyrics refer to an experience Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues had in Barbados. It helped me become a little more streetwise when exploring less reputable neighbourhoods. The title came about as 10CC were touring all over the world but seeing little more than hotel rooms, concert venues and air planes. The only chance they got to explore the world was as tourists, hence the album title “Bloody tourists”. There are other travel related songs on the album but that’s a subject for another day.
The theme of Travel Talk on Tuesday on the 22nd March 2011 was “Non-tourist travel”. It stirred up a lot of views. I read all of the tweets from the day’s #TTOT and found that everyone wants to known as a traveller /traveler and not a tourist. Why is this?
Is is because @touristdudes @soultourists3 @quirkytourist @tourismDesigned @luxury_tourism @frommerstourism instinctively sounds wrong? Personally I think there’s something more.
Defining travel and tourism
The USA and Britain are two countries separated by a common language. In the UK a traveller is a person who lives a nomadic lifestyle in a caravan (sorry trailer in the USA). A search on the internet revealed that “Traveler or traveller (see American and British English spelling differences) commonly refers to one who travels, especially to distant lands.” Wikipedia. Then it goes on to include all the categories of traveller, which include tourist, perpetual traveller, itinerant, nomad and more. Then, “The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people who “travel to and stay in places outside their usual environment for more than twenty-four (24) hours and not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited.” Wikipedia. Thank you @TraveBlggr. So I and the majority of participants on #TTOT were tourists, yet the term is now considered derogatory, in the same way that professionals look at amateurs. Personally, I have no problem being called a tourist. Although I remember arguing with a Chamonix Council Official after 5 months, that I was not a tourist as I had been living there full time, but to no avail, I had to pay my tourist taxes like everyone else! The result of this is that I am now a perma-tourist, as I am living off a small pension. Unless I work and pay taxes at each location, I will not be able to discard that tag.
My views on the discussion
My personal view, is that nearly all of the responses to question were posed in terms that excluded that respondent from being a tourist. The P Theroux quote regarding tourists and travelers was a common RT. @Roniweiss believed that volunteer travel was not tourism. Others, that working at the destination was also believed to be non-tourism and that certainly corresponds to the WTO definition.
Another popular idea was that non-tourist travel was exploring without maps, guidebooks and itineraries. That I suppose, would have to mean that the traveller must not book any accommodation in advance as even package holidays allow the chance to do this. Which means that anyone travelling to see items on their bucket list must be tourists unless the list was related to work at the destinations.
As usual there was lots of fun, especially when Tweeps allowed themselves to admit to tourist moments.
A recap has been done by @ConnieHum but with 28 tweets it only scratches the surface of the TTOT experience. I wish there was a way Twitter could archive chats so that you can follow conversations and get the whole picture.
Travel Talk on Tuesday is a live chat, the real fun is participating. So I will not go and post a recap. I hold strong views on the subject. I would recommend any travel chat on Twitter, as it is a great way of finding out more about the personalities on Twitter. Too many accounts are just Tweeting promotional links and not interacting.
Edit 5 May 2011:
Since publishing this post, two other blogs have also had a debate on this subject.
Runaway Jane posted: Is there really a difference between a tourist and a traveller?
Mallory On Travel published: Tourists Travel Too – Defining a Traveller