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Sensitive Travelling in Less Developed Countries PDF Printable Version E-mail


Sensitive Travelling in Less Developed Countries

Barry and Margaret Williamson
March 2012

Introduction

This is an exploration of how travellers with a blog can exploit the poverty of many less developed countries through their ego-centered ramblings, lack of sensitivity and desire to make money.

We recently received a request that we link to the following website: www.ourtour.co.uk. We did spend some time with the site, attempting to understand both the detail of the journey and the motivation of the travellers. We took particular interest in the free sample of their 84-page electronic book (PDF or Kindle format), called: 'Motorhome Morocco – An OurTour Guide', at a price of £4.95.

Having decided that these are not travellers on a journey, but merely holiday-makers on a 'trip', we wrote the following reply:

We had a look at the sample PDF for your book on Morocco. This is fine as an account of your brief time in that country, but it is important to stress that it may not be typical. More adventurous travellers going to less tourist-focussed places, particularly in the south, may have quite different experiences. Read, for example, Dr  Bob's Account of a Moroccan Journey in 2010 and his Follow-up 'Prescription' which tells it as it is, rather than as some tourists' zoo. Bob is a medical doctor and a former colonel in the British Army's Special Forces and has served and travelled in many Arab and Moslem countries. He left Morocco after two months, having planned to stay for three.

Morocco is one of too many poor, undeveloped and misruled countries with a badly educated, exploited and often desperate people. Bartering and scamming are not tourist games to them; they are the necessities of survival. Most motorhome trips to countries such as Morocco are no more than ego trips, with appropriate text and photographs. The theme is: “Aren't I amazing, just look at me, travelling among all these ragged, threatening people. Here I am in the souk getting the price down; here I am sliding down one of their dunes; here I am on one of their beaches getting myself brown just like they are; here I am with my large motorhome driving on their awful roads among their beaten up, badly driven cars, etc. Aren't I amazing? I know what, after 4 weeks of this I'll exploit the country even further by writing a book about it and make some money for myself since the Moroccans themselves can't tell it as it really is. There are enough people with motorhomes out there who are like me, and who would like to visit my version of Morocco. What an adventure they would have.”

We could have added the following comment on so-called 'scams'.

In the developed world, the one developed for and on behalf of capitalism, the inhabitants are full-time consumers. Their lives are engulfed in the propaganda of the marketeers. Think of TV and internet advertising, spam on the internet and junk through the letterbox, telephone-selling, billboards, leafleting, supermarket selling techniques, the needless endless and often pointless redesign of products and their packaging, product endorsement by 'celebrities', football and other sports kit covered in logos, racing cars sponsored by manufacturers, and now even the Olympic Games (once the home of the amateur spirit) sponsored by multi-national corporations. All of this requires surplus resources, other than those needed for actual production and distribution.

In the next paragraph, take 'Morocco' to be typical of over a hundred other less-developed countries and take 'carpet' to mean a host of hand-made or simply manufactured products.

How much of western-style marketing is available to the Moroccan carpet maker? What surplus resources have they? How much infrastructure is present to make marketing even a possibility? The family business is likely to have a son or a cousin who is unemployed, so what better use could be made of his potential labour than to send him out onto the streets to 'market' the carpet factory? How ingenious must he (certainly a male) be to draw tourists to the factory or shop? What stratagems must he develop?

And how annoying or prevalent is this, compared to the blizzard of intrusions into our life that we experience almost every moment of our lives back in our own developed world?

Cannot the western tourist imagine, if only for a moment, what it must be like to be desperate; not to know where the next food was coming from? To eat when you can, rather than at three mealtimes a day? To have responsibility not just for a wife and children, but within an extended family? To be in a country with no Social Security, no 'Job-Seekers Allowance', no National Insurance, no Family Allowance, no State Pension? Faced with affluent foreign tourists in their expensive motorhomes with all the accessories, well stocked with food, and not least a camera and a word-processor to capture the picturesque scene? What is picturesque about other people's poverty?