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Topic section: Packing our prejudices?
Packing our prejudices?
The modern package holiday began in the early 1960s, taking people from northern Europe to the Mediterranean coast for two weeks in the sun. The economics of the package depended
Picture: 02_2000-7547.jpg
Before the 1960s, the British seaside holiday was an annual fixture for everyone, even the well-off travelling in first class.
Credit: National Railway Museum
 on chea
Any genuine local traditions are converted into travesties to fleece tourists
p air travel and cheap accommodation (and food) at the other end. It was not easy at first to persuade people who had hitherto taken their holidays in Britain to travel by air or to eat foreign food. Once this battle was won, however, the package deal tourists were unbounded in their enthusiasm and the industry grew rapidly. As people became accustomed to travelling abroad the package-tour operators looked for new resorts and marketed their trips to specific groups: young people travelling alone; young families; and middle-aged couples.

When we are away we seek, paradoxically, the pleasures of home. This can take many forms: playing golf in the Algarve; eating ‘breakfast as mummy makes’ in Majorca; and getting drunk in the Greek resort of Faliraki. Any genuine local traditions may end up being converted into travesties to fleece tourists, often employing non-locals who have no more knowledge of the indigenous culture than the tourists themselves. Flamenco and belly dancing became victims of this process several decades ago and they have now been joined by the sacred Sigui dance of the Dogon tribe in Mali.

In parts of Europe, British tourists were once considered to be rich snobs, a relic of the Grand Tour, but are now often regarded as drunken yobs – hardly an
Picture: 02_1997-5002_10934.jpg
Planning your own trip has come back in fashion thanks to the Internet.
Credit: NMPFT
 improvement. We may take our prejudices and bad habits abroad with us, but we cannot avoid learning something new, even if it is only the workings of the local legal system.

However, even the best-behaved tourists may have an impact on the environment. The vast increase in air travel represents the greatest – and the most worrying – threat. Modern aircraft consume huge quantities of fuel – a flight across the Atlantic can use more fuel than the average motorist consumes in a year. The carbon dioxide produced by the engines adds to the greenhouse effect; commercial aircraft dump about 600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. Also large areas of land, often green field sites, are needed to build airports. Noise pollution is never popular and is possibly harmful. Travel may broaden the mind, but it is destroying the planet.
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Topic section: Going on the Grand Tour in your gap year?
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It has become traditional to take a 'gap year' before going to university, just as, centuries ago, young men travelled across Europe on the Grand Tour. Are these excursions educational or simply an excuse for drinking and bed-hopping?  > more

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Topic section: Travelling to save the planet
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The idea that responsible tourism can help to save the environment began in the 1950s. But even eco-tourists have to fly to their resorts and tourism has a big impact on indigenous communities. Is our planet at risk from tourists?  > more
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