Published by Simon and Schuster
In this ground-breaking work, Elizabeth Becker investigates the trillion-dollar travel and tourism industry hiding behind the glamour pages of travel magazines. Since the end of the Cold War opened up the world’s borders to tourists and new technology made travel affordable, the industry has become a behemoth, changing the environment, culture, entire countries and our future. The business — with airplanes and trains, hotels and resorts, travel agents and governments — contributes $7 trillion to the world economy every year and employes one out of every 10 of the world’s workers. Countries increasingly turn to tourism to boost their economies; those struggling out of poverty like Sri Lanka and those hoping to hold onto their wealth like Ireland. One billion tourists now travel the globe every year. Everything can be packaged as a tour: medical tourism to genocide tourism, family roots tourism to food tourism. Some countries like France use tourism to support their culture, others like Cambodia allow it to undermine theirs. In an evocative narrative Becker travels the world — aboard a cruise ship interviewing poorly paid workers and then the company’s c.e.o.; snorkeling with Costa Rican biologists who practice ecotourism; following Chinese tour guides reading from a politically correct script, and going on a glorious safari in Zambia where wildlife parks are still endangered. Slowly she shifts our viewpoint, turning the idle pleasures of travel inside out to reveal the juggernaut of the industry.