Friday 7 August 2015

The 4 stages of tourism


1    Travelling Guest

Locals are astounded to receive visitors, and greet and care for them according to local customs of hospitality. Locals are usually friendly, very curious, see visitors as cultural trophies to show off to their friends, are interested in learning about their habits, clothing, possessions and stories. Sometimes they will take you home and offer food and lodging almost for free. They will take you places, introduce you to local dignitaries, advise you about where to get the best food and lodging, and warn you about dangers and cultural taboos. The country makes no concessions to your foreign needs, so you had better understand local signage, language, currency and transport systems. Food, newspapers and music will be local, as will be toilet facilities and health services, where present. There are local trinkets for sale, and much local produce, clothing and footwear. Prices of everything will be ridiculously low. Locals maintain their dignity and keep their local traditions.

2    Golden Adventure

Locals now realise that visitors are increasing in number and come for 14 day tours, during which they will pay silly prices for mundane objects, and are mostly interested in inebriation and fornication. Local entrepreneurs cater to these tourist needs by setting up bars, small hotels, tour groups, restaurants, beach restaurants, ferries and hire cars, all of these services signed in the tourist language, and at prices considered normal for foreigners and criminal for locals. The habits of tourists are condoned, but locals do not participate, other than local men with tourist women.  Local entrepreneurs cannot believe how much money they are making, nor that the bonanza will last, but make hay while the sun shines. The entire location evolves to be the tourist’s idea of what a holiday should be, and the transition irritates those who came years before as travelling guests. (They either complain loudly so as to be bought drinks as they regale newbies about ancient times, or move to less “spoilt” locations, which they then proceed to spoil in their quiet way, leading the impressionable in their wake).  You can get your local newspaper, at a price and perhaps a day late, and restaurants will  have learned about your peculiarities regarding ice in drinks, types of food, music and the sorts of toilet you are used to. There will be many more trinkets for sale, and whichever items of clothing and footwear brought back home by the first wave of travelling guests. There will be some emergency health services. Prices will be relatively low for most things, high for imported luxuries. Locals are willing to be servants for the summer season, and maintain their dignity for winter.

3    Mature exploitation

By now tourist areas have become totally distorted, or more kindly, cleverly adapted to large numbers of tourists. The location will be well known, to judge from T shirts.  Hotels are larger, entirely created for tourist comfort and requirements. Prices will be much higher, set by international expectations, with different offerings according to income. There will be very many restaurants and bars, all designed for tourist tastes. Everything will be written in the tourist’s language, and most locals will be able to speak in that language. Newspapers will be up to date. Local customs are an inconvenience, aside from the hotel floor shows every evening.  Cuisine will be up to the standards found in the tourist’s country of origin. Some of the more individual offerings, like trinkets and small food stands will have been banished by the hotel chains, which know that their guests find them irritating.  Health services will, mostly, be of a high standard, with some lapses. The wealthier locals are regaining their dignity, and the proprietors at least have first world living standards.

4    Sanatorium

For some inexplicable reason, tourists start finding that the tourist location no longer attracts them. It may be the great number of buildings, the presence of many other tourists, the loud noises, the banality of the food and the music, or perhaps even the prices. There are too many hotel rooms and too many people just like the people at work, who as a consequence will not be impressed by holiday stories about a cheap, vulgar, and “spoilt” tourist trap. Hoteliers struggle to fill their rooms, other than to pensioners on long lets, just to keep the staff occupied. The young, put off by the presence of the elderly, with whom fornication is not appetising, decamp elsewhere for an unspoilt location which is far more fashionable. Everything is a trinket. Prices tumble, and every balcony has a “To Let” sign, and in the back streets every house is for sale. Indeed, everything is for sale. Health services are over-subscribed, mostly prescribing anti-depressants to retirees. The name of the location is mentioned with contempt. The locals move from being waiters to care assistants, and convince themselves that this is a dignified calling, in line with their ancient cultural values, which they vaguely recall.


  1. "Cuisine will be up to the standards found in the tourist’s country of origin." You can be very cruel, doc.

  2. Baseball player Yogi Berra once referred to a restaurant that got so popular nobody went there anymore.

  3. Baseball player Yogi Berra once referred to a restaurant that got so popular nobody went there anymore.