Sunday, April 3, 2011

tourism (in place)

After recently working on a master planning/ visioning project, I have been thinking more about what tourism actually means in relation to place. It is interesting to understand how the two can both help and hinder the progression of the other. If we design for tourism by better exposing and, at times, exploiting the components that create place, this artificiality can deconstruct the exact elements that make it attractive initially. I think the goal is to achieve a mutual balance between generating economic gain through tourism (when a viable option) and maintaining the true character of the people and landscape.

Otherwise we create fabrications of reality that cater to the specific needs and desires of the tourism market/ demographic they attempt to attract. Then years down the road the people that originally made the place special and desirous are long gone and all that is left is a paper thin image of a past reality.

1 comment:

  1. An example that comes to mind is Venice, Italy. While traveling through the streets and canals it felt as if the essence and qualities of its original form and character were completely lost (maybe not lost but unarguably evolved). Personally, it was interesting and a good experience to explore through the city, but I was turned off to extending my time there. Its unique conditions and characteristics still successfully attract large numbers of tourists (which I admit I was one), but for me it was, as you stated, a “paper thin reality.”

    Is this a unique example? Yes. Can it be applied to this discussion? Absolutely, even though it was built nearly 1600 years ago. It’s interesting how its intended purpose has completely evolved into unintended consequences (good or bad). Some of the characteristics have definitely been expedited (whether it was passive or aggressive); for example, being built on and its use of water as a means of transportation. Everyone wants a romantic gondola ride into the sunset.

    I agree that tourism and place (including the integrity of the culture and the landscape) go hand in hand and that there is a fine line between too much and not enough. It is another example of a very complex issue in design and planning processes, and other questions arise (designing for perception and evolution of tourism and place). Basically, it is all relative.