My one-month internship at Thomas Cook travel ltd. exposed me to an array of possibilities. The well-equipped office made work rather fun. By taking up the internship, I sought some first-hand knowledge of travel portals and a completion letter that would augment my CV, and above all, fed my passion. October and November are particularly forecasted as season months and a lot of sale occurs during this time. I was interning around the same time. Every passing day, a new tour package would be launched which then was taken a charge of, by my mentor to train us on and the telesales would begin rigorously.
One fine day, while I was on my assistant tour manager’s seat surfing the net, a fifties something chap walked in. He wore an ivory-colored Dhoti with a yellow Khadi Kurta. The scanty hair on his front scalp made the saffron Tika on his forehead look even brighter. The reason why I mentioned every teeny-tiny detail of his appearance is that we often tend to make presumptions about a person’s character which may not be necessarily judgmental. He approached me and “Sir will be back in a while. Please be seated” said I, assuming he had some personal (read unprofessional) work with my mentor. “That’s okay, miss. I wanted to know about the tour packages” he became vocal now. The instant thing that I did after that was look for the “most affordable” and “mainstream” tour packages. I offered him a Dubai package which is one of the cheapest international tour packages. “I have been to Dubai, Australia and few of the Far-east Asian countries already.
I am looking for something unexplored and exotic now. How about Phuket and Krabi? Can you look up for the tour costs?” the near Marathi terms for unexplored and exotic sounded rather comic but he succeeded in conveying the message. Naturally, I was flabbergasted, awestruck and curious. I had to look up for Phuket and Krabi online, for this “exotic” place was an “alien name” to me. Phuket and Krabi are islands located in the south of Thailand and Singapore. These untamed islands have been attracting tourists from all over the world for an exotic endeavor. When I asked him about the driving force, he candidly said, “Oh well. The island is shown in the Hritik-Roshan starrer song Kaho na pyaar hai (1998). And my daughter is a huge fan. She daydreams of going there ever since she’s watched the movie.” Social media plays a crucial role in programming people’s aspirations and movies are no exception to that. Besides exotic locations shown in a song-and-dance routine, there are movies like Zindagi na milegi dobara and Yeh jawani hai deewani specifically engulfing the dimensions of tourism (in Bollywood). “We have no designed tour package for your desired places, sir. However, if you wish, we may get you a customized tour package that will meet all your requirements and will be exclusively for you. But the prices would be doubled for such a tour.” I said. “Not a problem. I will soon let you know my favorable dates so we can start working on it. And since I am going through you (Thomas Cook), Visa shouldn’t be a problem. Anyway, it isn’t much of a problem for the Asian countries, particularly the Far-east Asian and gulf countries.” He came across as an affirmative and confident being, much contrary to what I had anticipated of him. “Yes, of course sir. We will help you with that” said I, still marveling at his wisdom and the right pronunciation of every “English” word. Be it the places shown in movies, or the places trending as “hot destinations” on media or word of mouth, tourism has far reaching effects on people’s minds.
Tourism has unconsciously attempted to curb the class ascendancy. It was believed that only the “Elitists” or the economically well-off could be tourists. The subject in my case study clearly does not hail from an elitist background. Moreover, he did not ‘look like somebody’ who would be well-read and forthright. He not only wanted to get over the mainstream and explore a place unexplored, but was also willing to pay an exorbitant amount for the same. Tourism has become like real estate investment today. By buying an international tour package, people not only expend, but also seek prestige; much like what happens in the case of buying land. A brief encounter with my subject prompted me to conclude that he did not travel for the pleasure’s sake, there was a thick prestige element to it. And prestige is directly proportional to prosperity.
Hence, the subject here seeks virtual prosperity. Also, there is a strong inclination towards foreign destination than domestic ones by Indian tourists. One most probable reason is the influence of westernization. An international tour package is like a tourist’s savior. Though temporarily, tourists escape from a mundane environment. Man’s greatest fear is that of imprisonment. In the natural world, a mundane environment is imprisonment which the pseudo-“prisoner” constantly struggles to escape. Travelling allows people to find joy in a monotonous setup. One does not always travel for the sake of visiting a set of monuments or like purposes, but to escape the real world in order to reach a place away from work and commitments. And then there are several socio-psychological aspects to it like relaxation, prestige, regression, social interaction, kinship enhancement, etc as proposed by Crompton to be the “push motives.” In the tourism industry, the push factors are the ones ‘pushed by the tourists’ own inner forces’ whereas the pull factors are the ones ‘pulled by the outer forces of destination attributes.’ A balance of both the factors trigger a tourist’s decision to set out on a travel venture.
Besides, a traveler’s personal needs, expectations, achievements, or benefits should also be taken into consideration. The cultural aspects, “pull factors” of tourism essentially are novelty and education. A traveler is always on a lookout for something new. However, Dann iterates that “push factors precede pull factors.” In my opinion, it would be safe to say that it is a relative choice and no factor wins brownie points. A traveler may be equally or more driven by pull factors than push factors or by none at all. Tourism is a result of both internal and external factors playing with the traveler’s mind. A traveler would be as much looking for the marketed image of the destination, novelty and benefit expectation (external factors) as he/she would be looking for personal interests, affordability, timeframe and the willingness (internal factors). More often than not, internal factors overlap with external factor.
Tourism is the most sought-after luxury good nowadays. Despite its association with things shallow and frivolous, tourism is relevant to many theoretical and real-world issues in anthropology. For people in host destinations, tourism is often the catalyst of significant economic and social change, the context for cross-cultural encounters, and the stage-like setting for displays and recreations of culture and tradition. For the tourists, tourism can be a ritual form of escape from the structure of everyday life, or it can represent a symbolic quest for the kinds of authentic experiences that elude modern society. Only tourism has an impeccable quality of driving people towards their purpose of life. It is through self-lens that individuals nowadays aspire to see the world and embrace it in all its glory. Tourism is undisputedly the most soul-satisfying phenomenon. What’s more? Travel enthusiasts are keen to pay a great deal of money to purchase this commodity. Because as far as their psyche is concerned, they just do not splurge money, they buy prestige, happiness and informal education in return.
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