Type of Progym: Refutation
Even though Urry makes some great points in his piece about what he calls the “tourist gaze”, I couldn’t help but find myself disagreeing with some of his arguments. He seems to have a cynical and almost negative opinion about traveling just to see the sights a place has to offer. One of his main points is that
“there has to be something distinctive to be gazed upon, that the signs collected by tourists have to be visually extraordinary.”
Personally, I disagree with this claim. There’s something calming and refreshing about experiences sights that are familiar when traveling. While many tourists do go traveling for “visually extraordinary” sights, I think many tourists enjoy the simple views some places have to offer. However, they tend to be overlooked because the majority do travel with that “tourist gaze” Utter talks about. Yes, sightseeing is extremely fun, but not everywhere we go will offer an out of this world experience, and I think that’s fine. As we’ve already learned, many people go on trips to find themselves. If you travel with the goal of learning more about yourself and looking inward, sightseeing wouldn’t be something you’d be preoccupied with. For many people, traveling is about being able to escape a certain place, no matter where the destination is. For those who travel for themselves and not with sightseeing at the forefront, whether a place is astonishing or not is not important. The extremely overused phrase “it’s about the journey, not about the destination” would be the perfect way to describe this. For many, it’s not about looking at the best views or monuments, it’s about looking at parts of themselves they wouldn’t discover if they wouldn’t have traveled. Urry seems to forget about this type of travelers when speaking about tourists, which does a disservice to them in general since it portrays them all in a bad light.