The No-Nonsense Guide to Tourism
by Pamela Nowicka
Sitting in the murk and grey of a rich world city, surfing hundreds of TV channels under the watchful eyes of two cats, I'm bombarded by ads for holiday heaven. But Indian documentary channel NDTV shows a different point of view.
It's the tail end of a programme on rising sea levels in Tamil Nadu, where I shot my documentary 'Climate Change? No Thanks!' Locals from coastal areas of the state describe how the sea is encroaching on the shore, in some places by several hundred metres in a few decades. People are worried, but according to travel-promoters, this area of 'Incredible India' boasts many 'paradise' holiday locations.
Browsing an online publication, I discover that a supermodel is going to 'paradise'. Closer reading reveals that she is, in fact, traveling to Thailand - 'Land of Smiles'. An interesting designation for a country which has been struggling for years with mass public demonstration of unrest about the current political situation.
Ros, who's screening 'Climate Change? No Thanks!' in London next week snorts in disbelief when I suggest that locals here might like to create 'paradise' in their own neighbourhood instead of flying thousands of miles to discover the paradise in the holiday brochures. Paradise, it seems, is never home.
When I researched The No Nonsense Guide to Tourism, I was fascinated by the way the concept of 'paradise' was created by the tourism industry and the way we bought into it, hook, line and sinker. Our holiday paradise is a must-have consumer accessory, an expression of our unique individualism. And Rich World people are outraged by any challenge to their view that their holidays are creating anything other than jobs, prosperity and some kind of multi-cultural melting pot of globalised goodness.
The tourists in south India in my documentary, were similarly sanguine about their positive impacts. Locals disagree. Their voices are rarely heard.
There are many questions we can ask about a designated paradise. What constitutes a 'paradise'? Where is it? Who lives there?
But perhaps the biggest question is: who names the paradise? And why we can't find it at home, in the murk and grey of a rich world city, surfing hundreds of TV channels under the watchful eyes of two purring cats?
'Climate Change? No Thanks!' will be screened by Transition Leytonstone at Leytonstone Library on Wednesday 12th January at 6:30 pm with a director Q&A and panel discussion. More information is available on Facebook.