The tourist industry is in the ‘off-the-beaten-track’ business

–“If the beaten track is created for the tourist, the tourist herself creates an ‘off the beaten track’ to reassert her own autonomy and independence. Having discovered how attractive this toe dipped in freedom is to most people, the tourist industry has also gotten into the off-the-beaten-track business, usually more expensive and fundamentally more snobbish in its appeal for places where ‘the rest of them’ won’t be.”
— Lucy R. Lippard, On the Beaten Track (1999)

Posted by | Comments (6)  | July 23, 2007
Category: Vagabonding Advice

6 Responses to “The tourist industry is in the ‘off-the-beaten-track’ business”

  1. Robert Says:

    As a big fan as well as a provider of off-the-beaten-track experiences, I’d like to add a more positive note to Lucy’s observation. After seeing the standard, listed sites in any given place, many people want to explore a bit more. My city–Buenos Aires–obviously offers a lot more than cheap steak & fancy, overpriced tango shows. But a lot of people don’t realize that. I think good off-the-beaten-track tourism involves breaking preconceived notions & finding out what’s really going on in any particular destination. If it’s done only to avoid other tourists, then that’s the wrong spirit.

  2. Eric Daams Says:

    Great quote.

    To me, “off-the-beaten-track tourism” is contradictory.

    Once the tourist industry catches on, how can a previously unknown destination still be considered “off-the-beaten-track”?

    I guess it depends on what you understand “off-the-beaten-track” to mean…

  3. Robert Says:

    Like I said, I don’t think it means undiscovered or unknown. My definition would include finding places of personal interest not listed in every guidebook… or even seeing highly visited spots from a different POV than that of mainstream guidebooks/tours. It can be a state of mind rather than an actual place.

  4. Scribetrotter Says:

    Another definition could be somewhere you have to get to on your own steam – if there’s a tour bus (however tiny) or package, it wouldn’t qualify as off the beaten track… just because I run into a few people who’ve had the same initiative probably wouldn’t turn something into ON the beaten track…

  5. ben Says:

    My grandmother might consider leaving australia as going off-the-beaten-track, whilst my older brother might consider speaking to an aboriginal australian as off-the-beaten-track, after all their peers (or friends) in both cases haven’t done those things. But the aboriginal person, and all the locals my grandma meets, don’t consider that same situation as off-the-beaten-track. I agree with robert; for me it’s more of an intellectual, physical, or emotional experience than a place. Taking people out of their comfort zone is a good place to start. Mostly for me it’s food and language 🙂