Lucas Enrique Fernandez

Tourism and the Semiotics of Nostalgia


Authenticity. For something or someone to be undisputedly genuine is a trait sought after by the masses. To have the opportunity to eat authentic cuisine means you are getting something as close to the source as possible. To collect authentic gems are to have those that are real and untainted by the hands of others. We seek to surround ourselves with people who are authentic, people that are exactly as they show us. When any of these things mentioned above are revealed as inauthentic there is an automatic backlash and vituperation of the character of that thing. This carries over to travel as well.

Here the tourist, understood as a faux voyageur, is contrasted with the heroic figure of the traveler and accused of a lack of interest in the culturally authentic.

The quote shows that those seeking the authentic while traveling are heralded as travelers while tourists are associated with the inauthentic and criticized.

Fuller expands on this surface level criticism,  claiming tourism as a quest for, rather than a turn from, that authentic experience of the world available to the pre-industrial traveler

However, there is a paradox that stems from this in the post-industrial world where the more the tourist seeks the authentic, the further they stray from it.

I believe that tourists cannot be dismissed and set aside so easily for this as it is a complex matter. In the end, we are all striving towards the authentic and often fall short of it. On social media, the goal is to portray an authentic portrait of yourself to your friends and family but people often show inauthentic snippets of their lives. Even in our real lives people struggle to be true to themselves in all situations when faced with societal and peer pressures. Authenticity is something to praise to be certain, but is not the end all be all determinant in the character of something/someone.

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