Over the holidays, my family had a long discussion on Touring and Tourist! What do those two words mean to you? What connotation do they bring to mind? And why?
Touring comes from the word tour. “a journey for business, pleasure, or education often involving a series of stops and ending at the starting point.” But the latter is not necessary. I use the words tour, touring, tourist and tour operator every day. For me, they have a happy and exciting connotation. Yet some consider a tourist as something bad. Why?
At our family discussion, we all had examples of when ‘tourist’ diminished a travel experience. What usually happened was when a group of ‘tourist’ begin to invade our space, often speaking very loudly. Suddenly the environment we are experiencing changes. And we think ugly tourist! We probably all have been there! So we do not want to be a ‘tourist’! But on the other hand we are touring.
One time I wrote saying I do not travel during tourist season. And a client responded to me by saying “what is wrong with tourist?” And of course nothing is wrong with tourist, it is just that sometimes there are too many. A small city can easily be taken over by tourist. The small towns on the west coast of Italy, for example, lose their small town feeling during the summer cruise season when thousands of people descend upon them. I clearly understand many of us can only tour during the summer months, but for the rest of us, if we can avoid these times it is best to do so.
Also the connotation of a tourist is of someone just passing through, not experiencing or learning the new environment or culture. So what does it mean to pass through? Staying one day or ten? In a very few days we can experience and learn a great deal of a new place. We can talk to the locals, eat when and where they do, and honor their culture. Being a tourist allows us to see the world as it is.
Call and be a tourist very soon! Peace