Definition of a ‘Touristic’ Country

Definition of a ‘Touristic’ Country

El Watan, Egypt, December 16

A country that boasts tourist attractions isn’t necessarily a touristic country. This might seem surprising, but it isn’t. A touristic country is one visited by millions of travelers each year because every place in that country is suitable for traveling. It isn’t a place where a specific town or site is promoted in magazines or publications; but rather a place whose culture, hospitality, infrastructure, and sense of safety extend nationwide. If you visit Switzerland, France, Britain, or Japan, for example, you can spend the most beautiful vacation without ever visiting a famous landmark. In these countries, you can walk down any street or alley, enter any restaurant, and have a great time. In these places, you have the privilege of drinking tap water from every faucet. You can hop into any cab. You can stay at any hotel. There isn’t a stratification separating tourists from locals. When visiting these countries, tourists don’t need to search for ancient castles or ruins, but can rather enjoy a stroll around the city, lunch at a local café, or a visit to the neighborhood park. Whatever is comfortable and good there is made first and foremost for the citizen; the tourist’s enjoyment is inherent in that. Yes, there are no special streets or parks for tourists. No extra work is being put to clean up the streets or clear the garbage from where tourists might stay. The governments in these places focus on making their citizens happy, and foreigners can simply come visit and enjoy it. Accordingly, I do not like to regard Third World countries as “touristic”‘ if they do one of two things: The first is to put up a fence around their poor population, seeking to block their “habitat” from foreign visitors and pretending that poverty doesn’t exist. The second is to commoditize poverty. That is, presenting the manifestations of misery as folklore that may attract tourists and make them spend and pay money to local residents and employees, in return for filming among the rubbish dumps, ruins, and overflowing sewage water. This type of country is not “touristic” in any case, even if it has antiquities, beaches, mountains, or lakes. If foreigners visit it once, they will surely advise each other not to set foot on its land again! –Osama Gharib (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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