Saturday, September 12, 2015

And we found ourselves in a tourist bubble floating in the Dead Sea...

     Amongst the very early attempts to explain tourism, is the ‘pseudo-event’ by Daniel Boorstin. The tourists perceive these events as ‘real’, however, in reality they are only staged for them and cause the actual ‘real’ surroundings such as the local people and environment to be fully disregarded. The image of the staged ‘reality’ distances tourists from locals to an even larger extent and allowed by the media, also to create unreal images on the basis of which certain destinations are chosen. Consequently, Boorstin believes that tourism does not provide the opportunity to encounter and experience a local culture in an ‘unmediated fashion’. On the contrary, tourists experience and meet the culture in an isolated ‘tourist bubble’ as it is staged for them in an unrealistic manner, yet they perceive these events as ‘real’ and ‘authentic’.  Furthermore, it should however be noted that such bubbles often allow tourists to visit places, which they would otherwise not be able to see or experience at all.
Leaving the Baptism site, we headed to one of the many European and American resort chains on the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea. Stepping into the air conditioned, rather modern and familiar looking lobby, I immediately felt like I was stepping into any European or American hotel. Hence, there we were in THE tourist bubble. Already prior to our arrival we were told that accessing the Dead Sea through a hotel was the only chance we had, especially for us females wanting to wear a bikini. Furthermore, being in this hotel meant that we were given an image of a hotel, which is different from local hotels (if there were any) and were thus isolated from the ‘real’ environment. Moreover, I observed my co-travellers but even more myself that we all felt more accustomed to the place and acted much more unconcerned when being in this tourist bubble compared to our behavior when visiting other places. Hence, the isolation, the appearance of the hotel suited for European and American visitors and finally the possibility that the tourist bubble gave us to access the Dead Sea ‘the way we are used to’ confirms Daniel Boorstin’s theory. 

Johannes Novy and Sandra Huning, ‘New tourism (areas) in the “New Berlin”’ in Robert Maitland and Peter Newman (eds), World Tourism Cities Developing tourism off the beaten track (Routledge, 2009), 7-10.
Tim Edenson, ‘Tourism’ International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (2009), 304-305.

A resort to suit the 'Western' visitors' eye

At the shore of the Dead Sea

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