Saturday, April 16, 2005

Researching Bali, found this:

The once beautiful Bale’s and other buildings have long since fell into a state of disrepair. It was as if the villagers had ‘locked-on’ to the ring of the till from the tourist dollar. This was more than evident when I had a short but sharp conversation with one of the souvenir sellers:

Tourist: I was here 18 years ago and I am surprised at the change in the village.

Seller: (Abrupt tone) What’s wrong with the village?. Now I have a motorbike. We have TV and electricity and... a phone!

It was my point precisely! Too many cultures in this world are decimated by the tourist dollar. Not only that, the intrusion of the modern world has an overall affect upon the social, religious and political aspects of that society. So much so that it literally forces the entire socio-cultural structure to undergo a metamorphosis in order for adaptation. Having said that, tourism is good for the state of the economy in any country. However, when it has a serious affect on the core culture of that country, then it becomes disadvantageous.

Much as I'd love to visit other countries and have them be all picturesque and unique, I can't begrudge a Balinese his motorbike, TV, electricity and phone. I wouldn't give up my conveniences to live in the style of my grandmother, nor would I appreciate pressure to maintain the religion of my ancestors. A tourist like this one would have to stop being a tourist (being one of those intrusions), go back to the country of his own ancestors, give up his own conveniences etc. for me to take those sentiments seriously.

1 comment:

Natasha said...

Yeah, but we do preserve historic buildings and perform reenactments of events important to our history without requiring people to actually give up TVs, microwaves, dishwashers, etc., and I think this would almost certainly satisfy a visitor's interest in a native culture.

Something is lost when these things disappear and no one seems concerned even to record them or preserve representative samples. I'd go so far as to consider historic architecture and cultural traditions to be a public good.

Also, the tourist dollars that precipitated these changes may well dry up if it reaches a point where the only difference between going to Bali and going to the Florida Keys would be the variances in the vegetation and the cost of the flight. Since most people aren't into botany, I suspect travelers would rather opt for somewhere closer to home if the only thing they expect to find different is the language on the signs in the local strip mall, and Bali hasn't exactly got a booming tech or manufacturing industry afaik.

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