Rarely do tourist flows follow any other logic than that of the business one: maximising profits while avoiding risks. Naturally, therefore, all that is offered to tourists has to be comfortable and specially designed to please European tourists in search of relaxation, rest and controlled adventures without a hangover. These tourists want the comfort they enjoy in their industrialised countries, but at a low cost and with excitement that simulates danger but is safe and respectful.
Did you know about a successful English TV show in which a woman going through a mid-life crisis travels around Latin America doing things she always wanted to do but are illegal in England?
The tourist chimaera seems to be surrounded by insoluble contradictions that, despite everything, capitalism manages to dilute like an ice cube in the mojito many tourists love.
For example, in the tourist’s eyes, local people transform from “interesting” to “dangerous” depending on where the tourist is. Back in the comfort of their homes and while shopping, these former tourists cannot even speak or smile at the migrants from the same poor countries where they spent their recent vacations.
All good tourists must return home with souvenirs to give to their family and friends. The refrigerators of first-world countries are full of magnets with the name of visited cities or colourful crafts. There are even those who believe that buying them helps improve the economy of the third world. So then the tourists walk through the adventurous streets searching for cheap souvenirs, laughing, taking pictures and happily babbling in the local language, which strangely seems mysterious, cheerful and easy to learn. But, again, back in the comfort of their homes, these former tourists cannot even speak or smile at the migrants from the same poor countries where they spent their recent vacations. Memory is short, and one tends to forget those unfavored by luck. However, the latter do not forget because forgetting can cost them their lives.
A couple of days ago, indigenous Peruvians freed a group of European tourists who were being held hostage in protest against the government that looks the other way while multinational companies devastate the environment in which these indigenous communities live.
The tourist paradise has never existed as such; the capitalist fiction makes us believe that the long-awaited vacations in the exotic Global South can keep European tourists disconnected from the horror they are creating with their privileges and blindness.
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