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The Semiotics of Tourism- Theme

In this article, Cullen makes an argument that the age of travel as ended and we are now in the age of tourism. In this theme, he describes ‘travel’ as what upper-class Englishmen used to do when they visited foreign places, got drunk with the locals in run-down hotels, and then came back and wrote about their experiences. Tourism now, he argues, is less about what the tourist does and accomplishes and more about what happens to the tourist, thus naming it more of a commodity. One quote that emphasizes this theme is this: “The resemblance between the tourist and the client of a massage parlor is closer than it would be polite to emphasize.” A client in a massage parlor comes to the salon, pays for the experience he/she enjoys, then leaves without it having much of an impact on the client or vice versa. The same can be true in some cases for tourists. They come into a new place, pay for all-inclusive packages where the tourism industry simulates ‘authentic’ experiences for the clients without them actually having to go out in search of these experiences, then they come home and rave about what a great experience they were provided and how great the service was. Cullen also describes this type of tourist as a shipped parcel, where he/she is taken from one place to another and while they can say they’ve physically been to these places, they haven’t necessarily experienced them.

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