The topic is always a reoccurring conversation.. what it means to be a visitor versus a tourist. While my Aussie lady friends were visiting the conversation, of course, came up. They talked a little about being one of those tourists and I had to disagree.
They are not tourists.
A tourist settles with an outside perspective. In some ways they are looking for a little bit of a contrived experience. They want the tacky luau, they want to go on a tour bus and be fed information by a tour guide, they want to lounge by the pool with a Mai Tai and mingle with like-minded people. And there's nothing wrong with that. A lot of people only have 2 or maybe 3 weeks off each year for vacation time. They just want to be on vacation and enjoy themselves. Their experience is short-lived and only skims the surface. But maybe, because of our societies standards of work and deadlines and ideas of progress, a lot of people never really get to experience a place like they want to.
And I mean really experience a place. Actually live it.
A traveler, on the other hand, is someone who comes to a place wanting to understand the lifestyle/culture and have authentic experiences. They give themselves time to experience a particular place and try to live a little like the locals. And by time, I mean weeks if not months [my Aussie ladies were here for one and a half months and they thought it wasn't even enough time!] There is a greater consciousness and understanding of community and the people. And I don't mean that in some new-age, hippie kind of way. I am talking about the sort of interaction and awareness that builds relationships and plants seeds. The traveler is learning and contributing to a community and in turn, they are experiencing a place on a much deeper level. And travelers always come back. If not to the same place again, they are still revisiting thoughts, experiences, practices and carrying it with them wherever they go.
It's an interesting balance. I always like spending time with visitors, like my Aussie friends, who are like-minded and share the same sort of values. And at the same time, I hope that all my friends feel like they are having a unique, authentic experience whenever they come to visit. Because it works both ways.
Visitor versus Tourist. Which one are you?