Tourist or Traveler?

Although our adventure travel company Tripin Adventures operates in the so called tourist sector, we use the word tourist sparingly. Instead, we prefer to say traveler or visitor. American historian D.J. Boorstin, ones provided an incisive and widely cited lament and critic on the tourist phenomenon in his piece “From Traveler to Tourist: The Lost Art of Travel”. In his view, “modern tourists, in number of millions, were insulated from locals by carefully planned, designed, and implemented guided package-tours or sea cruises, separated from landscape by airplane or by automobiles traversing through the land on a strip of monotonous super highway. Cultural artifacts were gathered in museums, and attractions and events were fabricated and reproduced for their convenience, both out of the original context. Tourists were there to confirm their expectations developed through mass media and guidebooks rather than to discover and understand. The whole experience was diluted, contrived, striped of authenticity and passive, failing to make the tourists more cosmopolitan or more understanding of other people.”


At the sound of the word tourist, how many of us picture a group of people cramped in a bus, a cable car or a museum desperately trying to get the most out of the mass package holiday? How many of us feel that under these circumstances, the genuine blend of both sides, the local and the tourist, is being undermined? The common understanding is that the more standardized the procedure of leisure travel is, the less opportunity arises to approach and get in contact with the real life and history of a place. It is precisely this element that is of the outmost importance for us, as far as our work is concerned. Up until recently, the commercial promotion of the Greek coast and the standard touristic destinations such as the Acropolis has accumulated tourism at the seafront or around the most popular trademarks. As a result, this massive growth of the commercial way of travelling has proven too harmful to interpersonal relations. Also, meanwhile, the inner Greek countryside and its mountainous region, which has maintained its landscapes unspoiled with respect to its surroundings, has been disdained. This happens although it possesses all the characteristics to become much more intimate and friendly to the foreign traveler. Here lies another matter we pay attention to.

The places that haven’t been traditionally touristic must be approached with prudence so as for mutual trust to be built. One fine example is the island of Kalymnos which is well known to all international climbers. Its rocky landscape was once considered by the locals a curse as they had to make a living by diving deep into the sea to gather sponge, an activity that has caused divers to suffer from countless disabilities due to the decompression sickness. However, when the sponge became scarce the community fell into deep economic blight. In 1993, when the Italian Andrea Di Bari opened the first climbing routes, the locals- who had never seen climbers before- called the police thinking they were thieves or stalactite merchants. In time, when both sides actually met and understood one another, the locals realized that the climbers didn’t pose a threat but on the contrary respected the environment and had much to offer to the local community. Then, as Bari himself mentions, “The initial disbelief slowly turned into a friendship”. Today Kalymnos has become a worldwide climbing destination, but at the same time people should not forget that it was  a kind of random gift for the island and its visitors and the sport itself should be treated with respect and gratitude.
The same applies to the mountain guides in Olympus, the camping owners in Antiparos, the restaurant managers in Plaka or the bus drivers in Santorini. Our goal is to keep discovering new destinations and to provide interesting new options in Greece or beyond its borders. We believe that a trip is really successful when before parting the visitors and the locals are mutually satisfied and at the same time the environment and the rhythm of life remains intact as much as possible. A new generation of active leisure companies, including ours, is currently working towards this direction and aims at bringing the visitor in contact with off the beaten track locations. Most companies are composed by certified members who treat the natural environment and the equivalent activities with high regard, regardless of whether these involve the mountain, the sea, the river or the air. Also, being familiar with the cultural and historical background of the locations and always with regard to the people of the relatively remote areas where we operate, our tour guides offer high level tailored services. The outcome of this initiative has so far proven to be very promising for the future of travelling in Greece. Above all, the rich and diverse nature of Greece and its hospitable people are open to welcome the travelers.

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