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The Moral Dangers of Adventure Tourism | The Nation

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The Moral Dangers of Adventure Tourism

The best read this morning is this amazing piece by Rolf Potts titled "Death of an Adventure Traveler" (via Arts and Letters Daily). The narrative traces his decision as a writer for what he describes as "a Major American Adventure Travel Magazine" to abandon his trade. The immediate reason: the disappearance, and perhaps death of a beloved Burmese friend.

The article delineates the stark and shameful contrast between the faux adrenalin-raising thrills sought by adventure tourists and the very real dangers faced by the people who call these "exotic" destinations home.

Here are some excerpts to encourage you to click through and read the article:

"Readers of Major American Adventure-Travel Magazines, [my editor] told me, didn't want to read about journeys that were obscure or complicated; they wanted exotic challenges wherein they might test -- or, at least, imagine themselves testing -- the extremes of human experience. ... The Major American Adventure-Travel Magazine, it seemed, wanted me to create a tantalizing recipe for the exotic and the unexpected, but only the kind of 'unexpected' that could be planned in advance and completed in less than three weeks. ...

Every time I researched some upscale mountain trek in the Nepal Himalayas or two-week scuba diving excursion off the coast of Papua New Guinea, I couldn't help but ponder how pointless it all was. I began to e-mail my editor pointed questions about how one should define the 'extremes of human experience.' How was kayaking a remote Chinese river, I asked, more notable than surviving on its shores for a lifetime? How did risking frostbite on a helicopter-supported journey to arctic Siberia constitute more of an 'adventure' than risking frostbite on a winter road-crew in Upper Peninsula Michigan?"

All good questions we should ask ourselves when we make our holiday plans.

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