GRASPING THE IMPACT OF TOURISM

By Becca Cook

Tourism, travel for pleasure or business; also the theory and practice of touring, the business of attracting, accommodating, and entertaining tourists, and the business of operating tours. 

Before going on this trip I had no real prior knowledge of this concept, as I don’t travel often. Throughout the duration of my time being in the vivacious presence of Guatemala, I can say I have experienced to the fullest extent of tourism. In the few days we spent in the city of Antigua, we were constantly targeted from local vendors. As teens I felt as if we were all sucked into some sort of vortex that shifted our minds from learning about the culture, religion, and geography of Guatemala, into needing to buy clothes and souvenirs. This vortex can be somewhat tricky to escape due to how the city was practically structured around tourism. More than half of the workers we saw/talked to, made their daily income off the incoming tourists. 

Learning how to escape the vortex 

As we moved on to a less tourist based location in to Guatemala it was still difficult to break free from the vortex. I would have expected the alluring blue watered lake of Atitlan to be a tourist frenzy, to my surprise, it was not. Walking down the streets of this new town it was quite the opposite of a tourist attraction. There was no sign of any kind of vendors attempting to sell us something. The first night we were able to spend some time in the local town square. It was refreshing to view a non-tourist community. I soon became less of a viewer and more of someone apart of the community. I played with kids, talked to a few locals, and had some bussin food. This was when I experienced the epiphany that I was slowly but surely crawling out of the vortex. I continued to apply this sense of community instead of tourism into the future towns we went in.

To this day I am still working my way completely out of the vortex. I’m glad I was able to acknowledge being in the vortex, and then slowly attempting to escape. I hope for future trips I can come being fully indulged into the communities I visit. I hope the same for my daily life.

6 thoughts on “GRASPING THE IMPACT OF TOURISM

  1. Indulging in community- what a beautiful idea. Becca, thanks for your reminder that it takes a little work to get to the good stuff in life, but that’s it’s often right there within our grasp.

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  2. There you go, Becca! Getting beyond the shiny objects and going deeper into real relationships, learning, and discovering–just what you have done on our campus all along! Well done.

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  3. Becca,

    I enjoyed your perspective of the experience your described. Your expectations of tourism in conjunction with areas you expected tourism was informative for someone who has never traveled there. Great post!

    Teresa (Michelle’s Mom)

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  4. So cool that you are acknowledging and appreciating the less “comfortable” side of traveling. Pursuing that appreciation will open you up to the real beauty and complexity of the pale blue dot. Breaking through the shallow commercialism is where the lasting lessons, memories and stories will come from!

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