“[Swedish] Lapland is an area of immense beauty and home to the unique Sami culture, but attracting visitors to an area that gets below negative 40 degrees C in the winter is tough. It was only after the local government built a Santa Claus theme park that tourists began to show up.”
So writes Llewellyn Hinkes-Jones for The Atlantic in a recent article about ‘Postmodern Tourism,’ a nebulous area by definition, but certainly pointing to the fact that people are no longer traveling for the same reasons. I found some of her supporting evidence depressing: “Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands are overrun with ecotourists. Mount Everest is strewn with the garbage from the thousands of hikers that pass through its peaks every year. Without the draw of something new and untouched, these locations become just another place to go and take pictures.” Should my dreams of visiting far-off and remote places be compromised simply because distance isn’t as much of an issue anymore?
Despite this, her concluding observations seem optimistic: “The sightseer is no longer a passive observer expecting to be entertained by natives, but someone engaging with the world around him.”