Wanderlust: Vacation in nature © Sata Production (shutterstock)
Sometimes two days are enough, sometimes it has to be three weeks. Getting out, broadening horizons – for many, vacation is the best time of the year. Yet the nature of travel is constantly changing.
Summer weather brings vacation feelings: As temperatures rise, so does the longing for fresh sea breezes, clear mountain air or secluded walks in the woods.
For today's employees, vacation is a part of life – and is always a topic of sociopolitical debate, for example, when it comes to availability on days off. Tourism in its current form is a fairly modern phenomenon: the term was first coined by French author Stendhal in 1846.
Of wanderlust and travel irons
The fact that being on the road only gradually developed into a mass phenomenon was initially due to practical reasons – for example, means of transport. The Museum Schloss Lubben, for example, is currently illustrating this: a treadmill, borrowed from a local gym, is the focal point of an exhibition room, surrounded by display walls with pictures of the Spreewald.
Visitors are invited to test the tape – and to trace the wanderlust that began in the mid-19th century. The poet's journey emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century. Bulky suitcases and heavy travel irons remind us that being on the road was in many respects more difficult than it is today.
Diverse motives: recreational or abortion tourism?
Since then, tourism has become more and more differentiated: The term covers such diverse forms of recreational pleasure as educational or booze tourism, festival or health tourism, but also problematic phenomena such as sex or abortion tourism. Italian author Marco d'Eramo reminds us of this in his non-fiction book "The World in a Selfie. A tour of the "tourist age".
The motives for traveling are just as varied: Travel educates – this was already known in Goethe's time, who played a decisive role in shaping the image of Italy as a country of longing for the Germans. For the poet, the way south was almost a long-distance trip; today, tourists smile at two or three hours of flight time. The goal of the vacation can be to discover cultural and natural beauties. Others are happy to spend time with people or seek adventure. And some cite as a motto: "The journey is the destination": for example, in pilgrimage, a form that was originally not very touristy, being on the road is also of crucial importance – not just arriving.
A change of scenery can sometimes work wonders. In the literature and art of all epochs, external journeys have always been linked to an internal development: from Homer's Odyssey to "On the Road," that novel by Jack Kerouac that became the manifesto of the beatniks in the 1950s.
Is there a right to tourism??
But travel actually changes a person? At the very least, they can contribute to self-location – those who are on the road gain distance from everyday life and worries. New perspectives can trigger change, and when everything seems smaller from a distance, perhaps a decisive idea comes to mind.
In the meantime, there is also a growing critical awareness of modern mass tourism – key words climate change, ecological footprint, "flight shame". And that's not the only problem: Author d'Eramo is also skeptical that more and more old towns are receiving Unesco World Heritage designation. "A city is not just architecture. A city is a living web of relationships, business relations, friendships, neighborhoods.
You can't preserve that with a seal of approval," he once told "Die Welt".
It is a different matter when a single work of art or building is declared a world heritage site. But, says d'Eramo, "We have to preserve our historic cities by using them in a modern way instead of just exhibiting them."The old cities of Bruges, Corfu and Dubrovnik, for example, are world cultural heritage sites.
The question is not whether tourism is desirable or undesirable – rather, a distinction must be made between tourists and tourism, d'Eramo said: "The industry as an institution needs rules."The right to tourism for the individual, however, could not be restricted "without curtailing his freedom".
Modern travel remains ambivalent: on the one hand, it provides pleasure and is an economic factor; on the other, no one wants environmental damage, social conflicts. A "sensible tourism policy" is indispensable, says the expert.