Christopher de Bellaigue’s article (The end of tourism?, Long read, 18 June) is interesting and insightful, but fails to point out the intrinsic value of travel. Mass tourism, apart from its economic and ecological impacts, has also implied the opportunity to access peoples, cultures and foods that we have hitherto never experienced. To travel is to live, as Hans Christian Andersen once wrote.
The chance to experience and appreciate other cultures, to understand the lives of others unlike oneself, must be seen as a public good in itself. The “end of tourism” will not mean the end of travel for the classes who can afford it, but only means the denying of the opportunity for the vast majority of the world’s people to experience the world in ways that previous generations could not have dreamed of. An end to tourism will not hinder the travel plans of the world’s richest, but will serve to insulate and harden the nativist sentiments of the more disadvantaged.
Madhav Tipu Ramachandran
• Tourism and globalisation is what has brought us the very knowledge and cultural understanding about all the destinations that the author talks about. Without a globally connected and travelling society there would be little awareness of other cultures, little respect for other traditions and much less intercultural exchange.
Travelling and experiencing other cultures first-hand is what makes us more open and accepting of others. It connects us to the rest of the world. Progressive politics, fighting racism and supporting migration all depend on people understanding more of other countries and cultures.
• I was a bit bemused that no mention was made of staying in your own country for a holiday and the impact of Covid-19 on the UK tourism industry. Lockdown has helped many of us to appreciate what we have close at hand, from our own back gardens to wildlife areas on our doorsteps.
There’s much choice for urban, countryside and seaside holidays, and such diverse beauty and culture available right here in the UK. Reopening UK-based tourism will help the economy and people’s wellbeing without impacting on the environment in the way that overseas travel does.