A fellow traveller, soon to visit Melbourne recently asked me about what they could not miss… visually my mind started to flick… like an episode of Postcards, a welcoming female voice started to narrate. But, with each site, the veil lifted and the only suggestion I could offer was to walk around the city, the suburbs and try the amazing food. ‘If you come and stay with me – I can show you around’, I loudly piped. The best I could offer, and in hope of a favor in return, to be one day saved from the burden of being thrown into a guide book. Arriving wide eyed in stupor, armed with knowledge of basic language and a top ten list that sure will impress.
Pastel pink. Sunkist orange.
Blue, pale pop.
Sun tan lotion.
High rise shorts.
Constructs of visible moments, universal memories; an image bank of touristic fantasies, pre packaged and adorned with the beauty found in Coca-Cola ads. A transformation of the ordinary, the everyday, into a fetishized view of the other. Some still buy into this image – rose coloured glasses enable the chaffing of white sweaty thighs to pass off as velvet, smooth and tanned. The post-tourist on the other hand can’t help to find these constructs a display of the unreal – a vulgar posit, imbued from a neoliberal perspective. After all, working hard for your money, entitles you to live it up on your well-earned break.
What is it that we expect when we travel?
What value do we place on gaining superficial aesthetic experiences? Can such a thing really be bought, purchased and delivered? What happens when these images fail to deliver, when the image becomes more important than the experience? We see a veneer of the surreal being lifted only to reveal the shabby surface that lies underneath.
Post- tourism seeks for this veiling to be removed.
Authenticity becomes the mode of desire. Slavoj Žižek’s writing explains how it is only through the experience of an event; shock, a realisation of death, can there be a means to which we discover and reveal our subjectivity. Such experiences can serve to change our perspectives and understandings of our own productions of value. Tourism, the safe way to travel seems unlikely to provide us with this experience.
Whilst the tourist arrives with oversized luggage and matching accessories, the post-tourist seeks to understand what it is like to actually live – to feel. To be anything but, numb.
Yet, tourism surrounds us – it lies within our neighborhoods, from within, one can’t help but grin at the local sites that people flock to be seen. Globalized localities – become the sum of the rotund and absurd. The tourist selfie long proclaims the cities landmarks as its own.
The post–tourist stays longer; a flaneur – happy to discover, experience and above all, authentically realise the life of the local. But, in our world of our post conditions, it may be important for the tourist to stay. As a reminder of a fantasy once had, the remaining last few to believe in the fading reality of the capitalist dream.