The Tourist

The Tourist:

Costa RicaA review of  MacCannal’s Tourist by J.E. Sandberg. Tourist is such a loaded word in contemporary times. MacCannal’s book is heavily dated and despite updated editions, fails to acknowledge modern events, internet, digital travelogues, and updated reasons for travel. His favorite example is people wearing merchandise from “Expo 70” which occurred in Japan. I don’t even know if we have World Expos anymore. Maybe updated references like “Beijing” stocking hats would have served to improve the text. More importantly is his use of the word “Tourist” He uses it as a whole of the part. Logic tells us that we cannot reference a subject from a lower degree. The parent grouping would possibly be traveler, though many want to use this term as a more p.c. replacement for [ugly] tourist. Therefore, to be able to discuss this subject easier, we need to qualify some terms.

I am working on a simple graphic model that references intention on one axis and impact on the other. For class, I will be trying to label various travelers and we can attempt to place them on the grid. Our working list now includes: Escapist, Documenter, Tourist, Researcher, Soldier, Refugee, Migrant worker, Contractor, Businessperson, Wayfarer, and Student. This is not an all-inclusive list. Contact me with any that I may have missed. To help with a couple of terms, “Wayfarer” replaces MacCannal’s “hippie” as a person who randomly travels for extended periods. Escapist is a vacationer gone less than one month. A soldier is an individual in a country as a result of military directive. Migrant worker includes both legal and illegal types as well as TCN’s (third country nationals), which cannot be technically grouped with contractors due to a huge difference in income and reason for working.

MacCannal wrote a very interesting, some say gold standard, academic piece conjoining different theories to understand travel intentions. I hope that our class discussions have made his work a little more approachable. Following are some writings to assist us.

The depth at which a traveler seeks is also very important. The groups above all have both a desired level of discovery and an actual. I appreciate his use of Goffman’s model dividing the depth of experience into 6 levels. I will list them with my own examples to help clarify, or possibly editorialize.

1. Social Space     (this is what most people want to break through)  Museum or Theatre

2. Themed Space     Welcomes people with extra aesthetics- Cell phone store or Restaurant

3. Authentic Look    Heavy theme, Steakhouse, Trendy Gallery, Natural attractions

4. Back Space Accessible    Tours of, industry, comm., and government

5. Back cleaned up      Normally off-limits but partially accessible- same as 4 but more in depth

6. Real Back    (this is what motivates travelers imaginations)  Total behind the scenes

I think that Goffman may have been splitting hairs but possibly, he had researched so many different areas that he had to break it down that much. At this point, I see minimal difference between the gradations of 2/3 and 4/5. It still is very helpful overall.

Basically, this helps us study how the modern person is fascinated with real life. We desire to see the inner workings of establishments. As an example, I have watched Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel. This is a chance for cameras to level 6 of the Crab boat. Last year, my partner and I went to Milwaukee and ate at a seafood restaurant on the water. The dining area was heavily themed with fishing décor. The cooks were visible to the patrons, as were the lobster in the tank. In addition, everyone wore “Time Bandit” shirts and would quickly reference the fact that all of their crab is purchase off that particular ship in the reality series. The servers go as far as telling stories from late night parties from when the crew visits.

I appreciate when authenticity and staged authenticity are too close to discern. Many times what one person stages may be authentic in another way. Enough talking for now, Feel free to email any thing that rubs you wrong. See you next week,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: