I have rarely travelled outside of the United States. Growing up on the U.S – Mexico border, there were times my parents and I would cross over from El Paso, TX to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico but not as a tourist. However, I distinctly remember a time my family went on a vacation cruise from Southern California to Baja California. One of the destinations on the cruise was Ensenada, Mexico. Although the city is somewhat far from the border, it was a major tourist destination because of all the cruises that stop by there.
I went on that cruise when I was in the 8th grade, but I never had the opportunity to reflect about my experience as a tourist because all that was going on my mind while I was there was the scenery, the language, but not really the impact of tourism on the town. While I was in Ensenada, I was amazed by how different it was from Juarez. Although both are Mexican towns, one was a tourist destination and the other was a place tourists try to avoid. While tourism stimulates the economy and brings money to the local people, tourism quickly deteriorates the local culture and turns the town into a facade.
In my second abroad experience as a tourist, my family took a tour around Taiwan. For a week and a half we travelled on a tour bus and went to every major destination around the island. It was interesting to see the amount of tourists that were visiting, particularly from mainland China. Many restaurants, hotels, etc. were made only for the tourists and I remember feeling like I was a product on a production line, seeing what everyone else sees but not getting an opportunity to connect with the local people. Instead, I was able to connect with the tourists more than I was with the locals.