Friday, 4 April 2008

How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm, After They've Seen Paree?

A report released last month by Tourism Australia (reported on by eTurboNews here) tries to raise the alarm over a generation of children living without the traditional family holiday taken somewhere within their own country.

Apparently, without fond memories of regular excursions to that beach house down the coast, and with their exposure to that new-fangled Intertube, these kids will be lured overseas by the promise of exotic foreign lands.

Well... I have to ask... what's wrong with that? One of the best things about travel is its ability to expose people to cultural experiences, and ways of thinking, that they would never have encountered at home.

Yeah, I know, there are plenty of people who go overseas and come back just as narrow-minded as ever. But on the other hand, there are plenty who come home and see their own country in a different light - and learn to mix the best from overseas with the best of their homeland.

Living in a hugely successful multicultural city, Melbourne, I can appreciate every day the richness that borrowing from other cultures bestows. Sure, a lot of our vibrant diversity has been introduced by the migrants who've come here from every continent; but a deal of it has come from Australians going overseas, doing the traditional months-long backpacking tour, and learning from their experiences.

And it's not as if those young people won't travel locally at all when they grow up. In our busy work lives, there will always be a market for those quick out-of-town getaways, to escape from work for a de-stressing break.

The demand for these mini-breaks has already revived some of our region's great Victorian-era resort towns (Daylesford, Queenscliff etc) decades after the car had threatened to make them redundant.

Though that's another inhibiting factor to local holidays - the cost (both environmental and financial) of running a car.

As much as aircraft emissions are complained about re climate change, could a traveller choosing an overseas holiday, then using public transport while in his/her destination, be causing less greenhouse gas emissions than if he/she went on a longish driving holiday? Interesting thought. Anyone got any figures?