“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
There was a quiet strangeness about studying tourism in the Yucatan while experiencing tourism first hand. Our small group travelled with a tour guide for sixteen days, and most of our class conversations were directed toward finding a humanizing mode of tourism. But even on the last night of the trip, the dialogue drove itself into a dead end. Nothing seemed viable for a sustainable solution to the problems tourism creates.
Because tourism is an impossible equation.
We always returned to this questionː is tourism a newer, gentler form of imperialism? I think the logic here assumes that imperialism is as an isolated chapter in history that could be returned to… But history is a constant flow of action‐responses. Since the word imperialism first entered our language, it has become a part of our shared code for navigating and understanding our relationships. So, I do think tourism is a response to imperialism, and a largely affirmative one… but the aspects of tourism that we criticize are not at all unique to tourism. It is the perpetuation of imperialist ideology in our language. The pervasive idea of culture is created and sustained by media, and is now being packaged and sold as tourism.Culture is a super powerful ideological system because it relies on a fear and fascination with the other, and it has been inextricably linked to language and place. Tourism is dangerous and dehumanizing because it sells an impossible goal—to temporarily stop the chain of interactions that defines our existence. It is a behavioral code of demolishing self‐generation and agency.