Thoughts About Tourism In Xizhou
Now that I am back in Shanghai, I have had time to really reflect on Xizhou.
It started off as a dream: I dreamt that I was back in Xizhou, visiting. Along the way, I saw Mr. T with another group of students, and also bumped into a fellow Microcampus alumni, who had also done her Inquiry Project on tourism. I briefly watched her video, and she has predicted, like I did, that tourism is a strong force to be reckoned with, and will sooner or later take over and change Xizhou.
So I was back in Xizhou, and visiting the places that I had been hoping to visit. But I could not find any of those places. The streets were covered with shops that sold western-influenced authentic-seeming goods, such as bags with supposedly local designs and costumes the were supposedly local. There were tourists everywhere, taking pictures, trying food that seemed Chinese. Bustling hotels and grand restaurants stood tall against the squalid-looking and neglected Xizhou architecture. The dream really reminded me of a quote by Don DeLillo:
"Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We've agreed to be part of a collective perception. It literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism."
So the dreamed closed as I stood in the middle of the street, drinking in the collective perception. So to close this article, some pieces of advice for all those doing Inquiry Projects on or related to tourism.
Firstly, do not assume change is constant. The assumption that "it has always been this way" would close your mind to all the unconstant change that defines tourism.
Secondly, I would strongly suggest you visit the tourism office. Ask Ms. B not to take you to the tourism center but go to the tourism office, where employees work with issues about tourism. If you can, visit Mr. Zhang Rui, who has been very insightful in his analysis on tourism.
Thirdly, professionalism is important. While talking to locals is all well and good, the experts are usually the ones that supply the most useful and accurate information. And lastly, remember that this is a topic that would require a lot of analysis and interpretation on your part. It is a lot less clear cut than a topic about, say, antiques.
No, I am not trying to discourage you from choosing this topic. Tourism is an exciting topic if done right, but also can be frustrating and complicated. Click here to see my final product on tourism's impact.