maandag 7 september 2015

"Anouar, what is a tourist?"

Traveler or tourist?
Yesterday while having dinner at my parents home, my little brother (7) asked me: "Anouar, what is a tourist?". I had to smile, after a whole summer school about the definition of tourism and motives of tourists etc. this question should have been easy to answer. Oddly enough I could not find a simple answer to my brothers question so I asked him what he thinks that the word "tourist" means. His answer was rather enlightening to me: "Tourists are people who are bored of their own lives and want to see nice things in foreign countries. " and immediately after that: "Are you bored of us? why did you leave to be a tourist in Jordan?". Children can be shockingly sharp sometimes..

This conversation made me think about different theories about tourists. For example Mathieson and Wall who provided a rather simple explanation: 'person who travels outside of his normal environment for more than 24 hours'.1 Scott McCabe argues in his article Who is a tourist that in tourism studies researchers are still looking for the 'real' meaning behind tourism. He also states that there's a negative notion about being or giving yourself out as a "tourist". 2 Well, how to explain this to a seven year old?

Back in Jordan I did 'feel' as a tourist, as I wrote before some things were not as surprising as I thought, but I still found myself gazing at the Roman buildings in Jerash, the caves in Petra and the sand rocks in Al-Wadi Rum. Perhaps my brother is right and I am bored of the green landscape of Friesland and Groningen and grey buildings and pavements of any city in the Netherlands. Perhaps I ought to go see more "nice things in foreign countries" and be a tourist more often.

Thank you little brother for the refreshing truth.

Me and me little brother

1. McCabe, S. (2005). ‘Who is a tourist?’A critical review. Tourist studies, p.89
2. McCabe, S. (2005). ‘Who is a tourist?’A critical review. Tourist studies, p.114

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