The rose tinted glasses of tourism...some book recommendations
February 19, 2015 11:34 AM   Subscribe

I am always facinated by how tourists perceive the lands to which the with visit with rose-tinted glasses...The people are seen as friendlier, the food is nicer, the sights are more interesting, the natives seem more cultured, the transport seems better and even the Coca-Cola tastes nicer.

When in fact, when you dig a little bit deeper, the problems of "tourist land" are often the same if not worse as your home country.

I must admit that I am guilty of this rosy-tinted-tourist syndrome myself but I would really like to read some fiction / non-fiction books or movies that talk about the biased perceptions of tourists.
posted by jacobean to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The classic work on tourism is The Tourist: A New Theory of the Leisure Class, by Dean MacCannell.

In MacCannell's analysis, it's not about the lenses -- it's about the frame.
posted by feral_goldfish at 11:49 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Searching for books on the Anthropology of Tourism is the place to start. My undergrad degree is in cultural anthropology and I took a class entirely on said topic, so there is a substantial amount of research available.

Native Tours by Erve Chambers is one; also the ethnographic film "Cannibal Tours", and some other good ones are escaping me now, but try looking into liminality as a topic.
posted by nightrecordings at 11:50 AM on February 19, 2015

'The Loss of the Creature" by Walker Percy is partly about this.
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:53 AM on February 19, 2015

I'd definitely suggest both "Abroad" by Paul Fussell and "The Road to Oxiana" by Robert Byron.
posted by Vervain at 11:54 AM on February 19, 2015

It's just an essay, and is more of a subset of what you're looking for, but in 1982, the (decidedly right-wing) pundit P.J. O'Rourke bought a ticket on a cruise in Russia being sponsored by the (decidedly left-wing) Nation magazine. The resultant essay, "Ship of Fools," is in his collection Republican Party Reptile and it's a masterwork of poking fun at the huge gulf between the expectations of the progressive-politic busybodies on the trip, and the realities of not only the Soviet Union, but the Soviet people themselves. (For example - one of the most-quoted sentences pretty much sums it up: “These were people who believed everything about the Soviet Union was perfect, but they were bringing their own toilet paper.”)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:10 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

You might like The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton. In fact the main thing I remember from the book is his discussion of the opposite scenario to yours - he talks about how we set off on our travels expecting to arrive in the beautiful picture from the holiday brochure and pass our time there blissfully happy, without a care in the world, but in fact we forget about all the irritations of holidays - the long wait at the airport, the fact there's a noisy bar just out of shot in the brochure photo that plays Euro-pop all day, the fact that we get itchy sand in our trunks and argue with our girlfriend etc. But it's a good read.
posted by penguin pie at 3:55 PM on February 19, 2015

Forster's novels about the British in Italy are rife with fictional examples: I'd particularly recommend A Room with a View but Where Angels Fear to Tread is lovely too, if less about tourists.
posted by kickingthecrap at 8:53 PM on February 19, 2015

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