Monday, June 25, 2012


The e-mail started with this sentence:
The workshop . . . .  attended was "Using Wildlife for Tourism: Opportunities, Threats, Responsibilities." (run by Wildlife Tourism Australian Inc.)
It raised the questions: What matters would have been discussed at this workshop? How can wildlife be ‘used’ for tourism? Should it be? Indeed - what is a tourist? Who is a tourist? What has to be done to create ‘opportunities’ for these creatures that would normally not be considered sensible or relevant, as folk say, in ordinary ‘everyday living’? What is unique about tourism and its’ demands?

The first thought is that zoos cater for tourists with their ‘wild’ animals. Is this what wildlife tourism means? Somehow there is a different sense here involving something more wild; more ‘free’ - more challenging. What does a tourist expect? What does a tourist do that requires such special attention? It seems that ‘attractions’ are required; something that stands out from the usual. So a tourist seeks the unusual; things that are different? Maybe.

The dictionary ( says that a tourist is:


a person who is traveling, especially for pleasure.
tourist class.
in tourist-class accommodations, or by tourist-class conveyance: to travel tourist.
tour  + -ist

non·tour·ist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2012.
Link To tourist
Example Sentences
  • During that month the city, except for its main tourist arteries, is a radically different place from its usual self.
  • Hotels, restaurants, shops and tourist guides are complaining of a huge drop in income.
  • It was an old tourist attraction, with steps and handrails and electric lights.
Related Words for : tourist
holidaymaker, tourer

World English Dictionary
tourist  (ˈtʊərɪst)
a. a person who travels for pleasure, usually sightseeing and staying in hotels

b. ( as modifier ): tourist attractions
a person on an excursion or sightseeing tour
a person travelling abroad as a member of a sports team that is playing a series of usually international matches
Also called: tourist class  the lowest class of accommodation on a passenger ship
of or relating to tourist accommodation

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Word Origin & History

first attested 1780, from tour (n.); tourist trap attested from 1939, in Graham Greene.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

 As the word was only first attested in 1789, Captain Cook could not have been ‘a tourist,’ but maybe his reports about Australia initiated the desire for tourism?

The one characteristic identified in the definitions as relating specifically to tourists is ‘pleasure.’ To summarize, the definition simply says that a tourist is one travelling for pleasure, maybe abroad, sightseeing or on an excursion, and usually staying in hotels. So one can identify the important differences with a tourist as being the seeking of pleasure by looking at or participating in something during specially organised trips away from home, while staying in hotels. In the context of the first sentence of the e-mail that spoke of the workshop ‘Using Wildlife for Tourism: Opportunities,’ one has to interpret the possibilities for this ‘use’ as being the organisation of special trips so that travellers can enjoy the spectacle of things wild when moving from their hotel accommodation on excursions. It could even be that the hotel is close to the wildlife, so that there may be no need for any excursion - that the hotel stay is the excursion. Yet this organisational aspect is the ‘structural’ aspect of the definition. The core is pleasure.

For a tourist to want to go and see, there has to be an attraction that intrigues and cajoles, draws a tourist in with the promise of a special pleasure that distracts from things ‘everyday.’ This seems to be the primary matter, as excursions and hotels are mere supporting issues that allow for - facilitate - the ‘sightseeing’ that gives the pleasure being sought. Unless a tourist has some unique masochistic interest, one could classify a tourist more simply and directly - perhaps more honestly - as ‘a pleasure seeker.’ So it is that tourists travel to bungie jump, climb mountains or laze on a beach - to each his/her own delight.

So what about these wild animals? The proposition seems to be: how can wild animals be presented to / made accessible to groups of tourists on excursions to maximise the tourists’ pleasure? It was Barry Lopez, (Arctic Dreams, Of Wolves and Men, Crossing Open Ground), in one of his wonderful essays on nature, who spoke of how, when, after diving in the Caribbean, he returned to his hotel to be asked excitedly by other drivers on the excursion: “Wow! Did you see the octopus?” Lopez, far more sensitive to his natural surroundings than any ordinary tourist, noted that it would have been much better to ask: “Where had this octopus come from? Where was it going? What was it doing there?” What he was emphasizing was that nature is not merely something to gawk at for our selfish pleasure. It is not there just for our entertainment. It is there along with us, in this world, sharing it. We have no better rights to claim any more than this, no matter what is said in Genesis about domination.

Our response as pleasure seekers ignores the very heart of the situation by placing all of the importance and significance on and in the observer - the self-important tourist seeking a pleasurable indulgence, whatever the outcome or implications of this activity might be, because it has been paid for. For Lopez the pleasure came from sharing the same space and place as this other creature, with each respecting the other with a reciprocal understanding, care and reverence - a position that can be summed up as responsibility: a word that touches on the ability to respond and the level of accountability that this reaction holds - indeed, demands.

The worry with the tourist is that there is no necessary responsibility in any sense other than in self-interest. Look how the crowds push and pull to see, to insist on their 'rights' that have been purchased. The singular aim is indulgent pleasure seeking. Tourists will do anything to get their pleasures. The great problem with tourism lies in this irresponsibility - the lack of care for the observed thing in their sights when ‘sightseeing.’ The aim is to maximise the pleasure achieved; to heighten the ‘fix’ of the pleasurable outcome, the more unique the better: and once this has been done, the excursion moves on to the next object of pleasure, because pleasure, like most ‘highs,’ has its limits and must become a ‘low’ again. It can sustain itself only for short periods before other matters intrude - time, weather, crowds, money, family, bodily functions and feelings: those droll necessities of life and being.

So, as for “Using Wildlife for Tourism: Opportunities,” and, one could add “Using World Heritage for Tourism Opportunities,” the important word is ‘using’ - using something for irresponsible pleasure: ‘ab-using’ it. Tourists ‘use’ things - they consume, and spend money for the privilege of being remote from ordinary things. The echo of the prefix ‘eco’ makes no difference to outcomes. The ‘sight’ is still being used for a tourist’s pleasure seeking, with no other aim than this, echo or eco. Soon other matters creep in to further complicate issues: comfort needs to be attended to, and convenience catered for. So the ‘attraction’ attracts facilities - food outlets, hotels, motels, cafes, grand roads, transport, parking lots - all for the comfort and convenience of the tourist, to add to the pleasure: to enhance it; at the very least, not to allow any interference with the delight being singled out. And the grander these facilities can be, the better is the ‘attraction’ - ‘world class’! - whatever that means. So we see astonishing hotels in astonishing places that treat amazing landscape as less than a painting, to be gawked at as the backdrop for immoderation; and wild animals too, become merely as actors - extras - in the pleasure game. The real worry is that they might not appear on cue, so tricks are used to ensure the ‘value’ of the experience. Things just get messy, and more messy.

What does become clear is that tourism needs to be very carefully managed. Often, in all of this hoohaa, the fake can be just as attractive as the real. Indeed, sometimes it is more convenient and comfortable, and hence more pleasurable. So why ‘bugger up’ the real? Why not make more and more fake - snowfields in Dubai; underwater hotels in the desert; rain forests in the heart of cities; surf in a ‘safe’ pool in a park? Keep the real and look after it responsibly. Tourists will do nothing for it but damage and interfere unless carefully managed. Simply put, tourism and World Heritage do not mix freely and should not. In the same way, wildlife needs to be protected, respected. Careful controls, management and supervision are needed, with the aim being to sustain the essence of the place and the animal, not the delight and comfort of the tourist, no matter how demanding this might become.

Unless we are prepared to ask the Lopez question and understand what its’ significance is, and to act on this basis, then we have a real problem. The Lopez proposition is that things need to be left alone - to be respected, not treated as dramatic spectacles. Reverence is involved - it touches on a spiritual matter, not merely the intrigue and delight of the extraordinary, for our world is extraordinary.

And Springbrook? Springbrook National Park is part of the World Heritage area that has been nominated because of its biodiversity. This is the core thing to remember. Springbrook National Park is also a very small National Park that is surrounded by development. It needs great care if its’ special World Heritage properties are not going to be erased by pleasure seekers, because extreme care and concern is required for the maintenance of the diversity that knows nothing of tourism, and owes it nothing. Governments need to understand this because fragile ecosystems are so easily disturbed and disrupted, but are so difficult to regain, to re-establish. The wonder of Springbrook is that, even in this tiny area, new species are still being discovered to this very day. To march in and trample this place for singular, selfish delight and others’ profits is an arrogance that cannot be allowed to continue willy-nilly. There are responsibilities that come with World Heritage listings, even if we remain blind to our responsibilities for our natural world and its meaning.

Tourism may bring in the dollars, but if the ambition is only pleasure, then we need to construct marvellous attractions well away from the real and fragile parts of our world and the world’s heritage. Play the game of fantasizing to maximise the pleasure in difference elsewhere. Don’t introduce comforts to add to the attraction in these sensitive places, in the belief that these facilities will have no impact. Such a strategy will kill the very thing that is most loved - by others. Rarely is love something that a tourist brings, other than the great desire for and love of pleasure. Pleasure is gained and the move is then on for more, and more. This is the threat. We have a responsibility to ensure it does no damage by saying no, go away - play the fake games of delight elsewhere. World Heritage means limits and controls, not the ‘come and see the extraordinary’ hype, even though it is. It should be: come and respect the special - for these reasons. It is your responsibility - and ours too. Feel welcome, but come as a thinking, feeling , caring, responsible person, not as a tourist.

For details of Springbrook see:

The Sydney Morning Herald of 25th May 2013 reported on ex-Prime Minister Paul Keating's concern with the commercialisaiton of the botanic gardens. Paul Keating sees the gardens as a place for quiet enjoyment and contemplation - see:

''The botanical gardens should be our proud front garden, instead of that, it is moving inexorably to being simply another arena,'' Mr Keating said. ''The trust would be better leaving municipal park benches strewn through the gardens and Domain, to allow people's quiet enjoyment and contemplation, rather than this grotesque alienation to the private events and party hire industry.''

The Trust and the Government apparently have other ambitions:

Last week, Environment Minister Robyn Parker said there was a need for a permanent music bowl in the gardens, and more revenue opportunities. Cox Architecture is drawing up a plan to create an ''unrivalled experience'' for tourists.
It seems that not even the Environment Minister is interested in 'quiet enjoyment and contemplation,' just in creating 'an unrivalled experience for tourists.' After all, tourists do not want simple solitude or any time for reflection, just more and better distractions. The world is only too happy to provide as many of these as it can. Giving thought to ordinary, everyday life that needs quiet and restful times and places is seen simply as a waste of time and a loss of money - tourist dollars. Designing the world for tourism is changing lives by ignoring the simple necessities in favour of exhibitionism.

23rd April 2014
Jan Morris  Contact! Brief encounters in a lifetime of travel  Faber and Faber, London, 2009, p.126:

 Arrival of the tourists

Down in the harbour of Capri I can see the morning vaporetto from the mainland, still hazy about the funnel, and here flooding into the piazza, pouring out of taxis, out of buses, out of horse carriages, out of the steep funicular that runs up from the waterfront - wearing floppy straw hats and rope-soled shoes and pink jeans and multifarious bangles - festooned with cameras, inquiring the price of swimsuits, unfolding maps, touching up their lipsticks beneath the campanile – talking German, English, French and every variety of Italian – young and old, blatant and demure, strait laced and outrageous, earnest and frivolous and thrilled and sick-to-death-of-it-all – here past my café table streams the first quota of the morning’s tourists.

31 May 2014
The face of tourism

The subject of interest is always secondary to ME and MY experience. Wonder is belittled, turned into a background for MY performance.

13 JULY 2015

It was a sentence in an E-mail received today, totally unsolicited:
He told them they want the walk as Springbrook needs something else to bring even more tourists up.
Tourists always want more and more. Even ‘World Heritage’ is never enough; such is the desire for ever-new, quirky and different distractions. Would we really do this to World Heritage Uluru? Would the French have this approach to Chartres cathedral? The Indians to the Taj Mahal? – see: 
The problem is that bush walkers are a little like things ‘eco’: they have the appearance of being sensitive to place when the real ambition seems to be similar to that of mountain climbers – to make the journey and tick the box.

We need to understand the unique importance of having one of the few regions in the world that has been listed as having ‘World Heritage’ values.

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