June 18, 2010

The Soul of Cozumel

Hi bloggers,

today, we share with you some impressions about the effects of mass tourism in the Island of  Cozumel, Mexico – where our  Life Beyond Tourism University Delegate Nicholas Warfield lived for 10 years:

“The soul of Cozumel to me has always been dictated by the love of the people on the island.  Most of my happiest memories today come from what I remember in the ten years I lived there, but I realized recently that those happy memories that have latched themselves to my heart forever are from the gentile, understanding, laid-back, truly loving atmosphere that existed.  By the love of the people I mean to say that the relationships between native Cozumelenos and people that had migrated to live there was fantastic.  There were seemingly no qualms, of course from a child’s perception this statement may lack substance, but what certainly is tangible are the bright white beaches, the rough salty reef that is the foundation of the island, and the colorful reef underwater that provides sanctuary for the life in the sea.  There were weekends spent on the beach on the east side of the island with pachangas, friends, surfing, and food.  There were trips to San Gervasio, the Mayan ruins in the center of the island, evenings of playing in the park with friends, Carnaval, and, of course, some of the best comfort food in the world.  These things still occur I am sure of it; however, what saddens me is that when people think of Cozumel now it is simply another island to get drunk on during Caribbean cruises.  Between the age of one and ten there were an average of six cruise ships a week during high season, but upon my return eight years later I witnessed the massive increase in tourism as the number of cruise ships that docked in Cozumel had tripled.  While economically it seems the island benefits from the mass tourism during high season, the attempts to appeal to tourists has caused construction along the west shore to not only push native Cozumelenos back, but also has been the inspiration for building larger and more piers to accommodate the ships; thus, destroying some of the surrounding ecosystem.  Mass tourism has enlarged the stratification between rich and poor, the love that used to be felt amongst all is slowly withering away and the soul of the island, its essence and beauty, are being ripped from it.  It has taught the younger generations to place value in the money one can make during high season and not the people they live with an enclosed piece of land, which I feel will result in further damaging the island and its population physically, culturally, and emotionally.  Cozumel has so much more to offer than alcohol, Senor Frogs, corona cowboy hats, and cheap trinkets for tourists.  Cancun has already become just an extension of the United States where people, usually, instead of broadening horizons the sole purpose of their trip is to party, but for people to go to Cozumel and be in such a beautiful place with such gentile people in such a colorful culture should be an honor and a privilege treated with respectful curiosity, not as a hub for cruise ships.”

What about tourism in your native region? Feel free to share your experience by submitting a brief article to!!

October 5, 2009

Sustainable Tourism with Context Travel

Hi bloggers!

with you, Life Beyond Tourism will  collect  international initiatives addressed to sustainable, and cultural toursim! Here is a first one …

… we have recently discovered a great initiative whose principles are very tight to the Life Beyond Tourism’s Manifesto!

It is Context Travel, an organization that  promotes sustainable tourism by organizing thematic tours  where tours guides are academic experts on the related tour’s theme:

” In this age of Disneyland and Club Med, Context Travel is dedicated to the experience of real places. We are committed to the character of these places: their built environment, cultural heritage, and living fabric. Through didactic walking seminars, we aim to bring together the traveler and these cities in a manner beneficial to both.

One of the dilemmas of traveling is the overwhelming amount of information, data, and experiences that we encounter during a short visit. Our walking seminars, which are limited to six participants, provide an intimate alternative to traditional tours. We emphasize in-depth conversation, much like a seminar class in a small, liberal arts college. “

You can find Context Travel in several cities such as Paris, Istanbul, New York, Florence, …

” … for example, in Florence, clients have the opportunity to visit a private artist’s studio where they will both learn about the history and technique of fresco painting […]”

All of the visited experiences form the context of the journey. Contextuality, is a mission:

“Our mission becomes especially important in Florence, where mass tourism has a corrosive effect on monuments, museums, and the city landscape. A portion of our profits, coupled with donations from our clients, is directed toward cultural preservation initiatives in each of the cities where we operate, which safegaurds specific aspects of local culture. In Florence, we have created an opportunity for a local student to spend time as an apprentice in one of the historic workshops of the Oltrarno. This scholarship allows the student to gain the technical knowledge necessary for continuing the traditions of craftsmanship within the Oltrarno community.”

For more information about Context Florence, please visit the website, and check out the Context blog.

Then, don’t forget to share your personal cultural-tourism experience!!

November 20, 2008

L’arte di girare il mondo


Leggere vecchi libri o romanzi di viaggio ambientati in posti lontani,
Far girare mappamondi, aprire mappe,
Ascoltare musiche folkloristiche,
mangiare in ristoranti etnici,
Incontrare amici nei caffé…
Sono abitudini che esercitano al viaggio
e non vanno mai abbandonate,
non diversamente dall’eseguire delle scale su un pianoforte,
fare lanci liberi o meditare.

Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage



“Degree and Profession” and The Tourist City


From the 14th to the 19th of March took place  the first “International Regional Festival – Degree & Profession” in Baku, Azerbaijan, on the subject of  Traditional Islamic Architecture.
Participants from 6 countries came together for four days to listen to conferences and discuss regarding the Architecture and the Conservation of Heritage.
The energy of more then 100 participants, students, graduates, professionals and professors created an event that will be a milestone for the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation, and its mission “For Intercultural Dialogue – Life Beyond Tourism”, showing how coming together under a common goal can break down the barriers.

More than 25 degree project were presented (Degree, Master, and PhD), and winners were selected to come to Florence for a stage-period: Timur Kiryashov, Nurlan Koishanbaev, Leyla Shiraliyeva and Cavid Mammadov.

Baku is the 2009 Capital of  Islamic Culture!!


Florence, Italy

Dear Blog Friends,

Last week in Florence the Romualdo Del Bianco Foundation promoted an International Festival called Degree & Profession, an important meeting for students, graduates, companies, professors, universities and professionals having the chance to share their own knowledge and experiences.

This Festival was rich of conferences, workshops, and other interesting events related to the worlds of school, workculture, architecture, and, of course, TOURISM.
In particular, there was a very interesting workshop about tourism which was intitled The Tourist City, conducted by the Professor Ray Hutchinson from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, U.S.A.


Tbilisi, Georgia

The participants to this workshop were people from all over the world, coming from Georgia, America, Italia, Iran, Estonia, Serbia, Russia, etc., and they were all experts in the field of tourism. Their works were all about the relation between their cities of origin and tourism, in the sense that tourism is a very important aspect for the growth of their economy and for a social and cultural growth too.


New York, U.S.A

It was very interesting to notice how different was the approach of each participant to this argument, and how different was their concept of tourism applied to each one of their cities.
In fact, we can’t talk about New York as a tourist city in the same way as we talk about Tbilisi (the capital of Georgia) as a tourist city, because each place has its own features and characteristics, its history, culture and economy. Therefore, every place has got its own tourism, in the sense that tourism depends on the resources that a particular place can offer to tourists.

For example, New York is a great business city and is so organized and structured that tourists often visit it simply to say “I have been to New York!”. In this case we don’t need to do more to improve tourism in this city or to promote its features because it already does it by itself.
Instead, there are places like Estonia or Iran which are not so well known, which need to be promoted by a different kind of tourism that focuses on their historical, cultural or landascape characteristics.


Belgrado, Serbia

Another interesting point was the intercultural dialogue established by the participants to this workshop. Everyone talked about his country and at the same time interacted and shared his knowledge with the others and learnt about different cultures, cities and realities. They shared their point of view and discussed about different ways of “making tourism” and different experiences and stories.
Again, New York has got a very different culture and history compared to Florence which has got its very personal history too.


Yazd, Iran

In conclusion, every place in the world is worth to be visited and known because of its own features, culture and history. If we want to avoid mass tourism we should visit both the most famous places and the less famous ones because we could happen to be amazed by the beauty of some of these places!

What do you think about it?


October 27, 2008

Viaggi veri


“Vorrei essere vissuto al tempo dei viaggi veri
quando offrivano in tutto il suo splendore,
uno spettacolo non ancora infangato, contaminato, maledetto…”

 (Claude Lévi Strauss)


Cari amici di blog,
Cosa ne pensate delle parole di Lévi Strauss?
Esistono viaggi veri e viaggi fasulli secondo voi?
A mio parere i viaggi veri sono quelli che esprimono la nostra identità, l’autenticità dei luoghi e delle relazioni che creiamo sul nostro cammino, sono i viaggi che vanno fino in fondo allo spirito di un luogo, che non si fermano alla superficie e all’apparenza, ma scavano dentro cose e persone lasciando un segno e un ricordo indelebile nelle nostre vite.

I viaggi veri sono quelli che abbiamo scelto davvero e che ci cambieranno per sempre.

E voi che ne pensate? Avete fatto esperienze di viaggi veri, finti, o di qualunque altro tipo? Raccontate, raccontate, raccontate!

Buona giornata!


October 2, 2008

Tu che sei in viaggio…

Filed under: Italian section,News,Thought of the day,thought of the day — worldsitetravellers @ 9:58 am
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“Tu che sei in viaggio, sono le tue orme, la strada, nient’altro;

Tu che sei in viaggio, non sei su una strada, la strada la fai tu andando.

Mentre vai si fa la strada e girandoti indietro vedrai il sentiero che mai più calpesterai.

Tu che sei in viaggio, non hai una strada, ma solo scie nel mare.”

Antonio Machado

Cari amici di viaggio,

Ho trovato per caso su internet questa frase molto bella dello scrittore Antonio Machado e mi faceva piacere condividerla con voi.

Quali riflessioni vi crea? A quali mondi o ricordi vi riporta? Ha un significato particolare per voi questa citazione in questo momento della vostra vita?

Se qualcuno mi sapesse dire da quale libro è tratta mi piacerebbe molto leggerlo.

Buona giornata a tutti!


August 28, 2008

The Zahir – Part three

Dear travellers,

Here is a last significant passage from the book The Zahir:

[…] I saw the endless steppes, which, although they appeared to be nothing but desert, were, in fact, full of life, full of creatures hidden in the low scrub. I saw the flat horizon, the vast empty space, heard the sound of horses’ hooves, the quiet wind, and then, all around us, nothing, absolutely nothing. It was as if the world had chosen this place to display, at once, its vastness, simplicity and complexity. It was as if we could – and should – become like the steppes, empty, infinite and, at the same time, full of life.

I looked up at the blue sky, took off my dark glasses, and allowed myself to be filled by that light, by the feeling of being simultaneously nowhere and everywhere. We rode on in silence, stopping now and then to let the horses drink from streams that only someone who knew the place would have been able to find. Occasionally, we would see other horsemen in the distance or shepherds with their flocks, framed by the plain and by the sky.

Where was I going? I hadn’t the slightest idea and I didn’t care. […]


[…] Così vidi la steppa sconfinata: sembrava un deserto, ma pullulava di vita, nascosta nella vegetazione strisciante. Vidi la linea pianeggiante dell’orizzonte, il gigantesco spazio vuoto; udii il rumore degli zoccoli dei cavalli e quello del vento calmo – e nulla, assolutamente nulla, tutt’intorno. Come se il mondo avesse scelto quel luogo per mostrare la sua immensità e, insieme, la sua complessità. Come se noi potessimo – e dovessimo – essere una rappresentazione della steppa: vuoti, infiniti e, nel contempo, pieni di vita.

Guardai il cielo azzurro. Mi tolsi gli occhiali scuri, mi lasciai inondare dalla luce, dalla sensazione di non trovarmi in nessun luogo e, nello stesso momento, in ogni luogo. Cavalcammo in silenzio, fermandoci soltanto per abbeverare i cavalli presso alcuni rivoli, che solo chi conosceva perfettamente il posto sapeva individuare. Ogni tanto, in lontananza si stagliavano altri cavalieri, pastori con le loro greggi, incorniciati dalla pianura e dal cielo.

Dove stavo andando? Non ne avevo affatto idea, né mi interessava saperlo. […]



What do you think about this way of feeling places? Have you ever experienced something similar?

Tell us about your vision of travel. Is it similar to the vision of the protagonist of the book?


The Zahir – Part two

Hi Blog Firends,

Here is another passage from the book The Zahir by Paulo Coelho.

Enjoy the reading and let us know your opinion about it…


[…] After supper, it’s the usual routine: they want to show me their city’s monuments, historic places, fashionable bars. There is always a guide who knows absolutely everything and fills my head with information, and I have to look as if I’m really listening and ask the occasional question just to show interest. I know nearly all the monuments, museums, and historic places of all the many cities I have visited to promote my work – and I can’t remember any of them. What I do remember are the unexpected things, the meetings with readers, the bars, perhaps a street I happened to walk down, where I turned a corner and came upon something wonderful.

One day, I’m going to write a travel guide containing only maps, addresses of hotels, and with the rest of the pages blank. That way people will have to make their own itinerary, to discover for themselves restaurants, monuments, and all the magnificent things that every city has, but which are never mentioned because ‘the history we have been taught’ does not include them under the heading ‘Things you must see‘.

I’ve been to Zagreb before. And this fountain doesn’t appear in any of the local tourist guides, but it is far more important to me than anything else I saw here – because it is pretty, because I discovered it by chance, and because it is linked to a story in my life. […]


[…] Dopo la cena, il solito programma: vogliono mostrarmi tutto – monumenti, luoghi storici, locali alla moda. E sempre con una guida che conosce tutto, che mi riempie la testa di informazioni – io devo assumere l’aria di chi presta grande attenzione e, ogni tanto, domandare qualcosa per dimostrare il mio interesse. Conosco quasi tutti i monumenti e i luoghi storici delle moltissime città che ho visitato per promuovere il mio lavoro – eppure non mi ricordo assolutamente di nulla. Nella mente restano soltanto le cose inaspettate, gli incontri con i lettori, i bar, le vie che ho percorso casualmente: ho svoltato un angolo e, all’improvviso, ho visto qualcosa di meraviglioso.

Un giorno, voglio scrivere una guida turistica che contenga soltanto mappe e indirizzi di alberghi: lascerò le altre pagine in bianco, così ciascuno dovrà fare un proprio percorso, unico, scoprire i ristoranti, i monumenti e le meraviglie che ogni città possiede, ma delle quali non si parla mai perché “la storia che ci hanno raccontato ” non le include nella voce “Da non perdere assolutamente“.

Sono già stato a Zagabria. E questa fontana – benché non compaia in nessuna guida turistica – è molto più importante di molte altre che ho visto in questa città: perché è bella, perché l’ho scoperta per caso ed è legata a una storia di vita. […]

If you should write your own touristic guide, what would you speak about?

Let us know which is your idea of VISITING A PLACE!!!


August 8, 2008

Domenica d’agosto che caldo fa…

Cari amici viaggiatori,

Agosto è il mese dei grandi esodi, degli spostamenti in massa per raggiungere la tanto attesa destinazione turistica, è il mese delle città deserte e desolate, del relax e del distacco temporaneo dalla vita di tutti i giorni.

Molti vanno in vacanza, ma molti (come me!!!) rimangono in città e si gustano il piacere di poter finalmente VIVERE LA CITTA’ in tutta la sua pienezza, senza traffico, rumori, gente che va di fretta, il solito stress cittadino, insomma.

Agosto è il mese per eccellenza delle vacanze quindi, ma anche del turismo di massa che è quel tipo di turismo che consuma le destinazioni turistiche a discapito dello spirito del luoghi e dell’identità dei loro abitanti

Oggi si parte più frequentemente in gruppo che non da soli, ci si muove in vacanze governate (fin nei minimi particolari) dai tour operators. Sostiene Franco Ferrarotti che in questo mondo in cui tutti viaggiano è proprio il viaggio a eclissarsi,

“si viaggia con una fretta esponenziale, con la golosità di una bulimia indifferente ai contenuti, sorda alle situazioni, cieca di fronte alle differenze” (FERRAROTTI 1999: 23).(1)

Il momento del transito, dello spostamento spaziale è stato abolito da un volo aereo di poche ore, in favore del punto di partenza/ritorno e del punto di arrivo temporaneo. Non si parte più alla ricerca della propria identità e dell’esperienza autentica, continua Ferrarotti, ma certo

“anche il più banale dei viaggi per le vacanze di massa, ha un effetto di deritualizzazione dell’esperienza personale, che può, al limite, intaccare i modi consueti dell’esperienza psichica e religiosa, provocarne un riorientamento profondo… il viaggio decongela l’identità, la rende mobile, itinerante, problematica” (FERRAROTTI 1999: 50).

Nonostante ciò o proprio per questo, il viaggio ora è relegato nell’angolo del mito, simbolo della rottura con la quotidianità facilmente acquistabile entrando in un’agenzia, obbligo sociale, esodo coatto.

Scrive a questo proposito Umberto Galimberti:

“Quegli spostamenti estivi che impropriamente chiamiamo viaggi ma che non hanno nulla del viaggio, perché non ci offrono davvero l’esperienza dello spaesamento che, facendoci uscire dall’abituale, e quindi dalle nostre abitudini, ci espongono all’insolito, dove è possibile scoprire come un diverso cielo si stende sulla terra, come la notte dispiega nel cielo costellazioni ignote, come una diversa religione ordina le speranze, come un’altra tradizione rispetto alla nostra fa popolo, come la solitudine fa deserto, l’iscrizione fa storia, il fiume fa ansa, la terra fa solco, e i nostri bagagli fanno ancora Occidente”.(2)

Che cosa ne pensate delle riflessioni appena citate? Qual’è la vostra idea sul turismo di massa?

Mi piacerebbe sapere il vostro parere al riguardo, quindi scrivete lasciando un vostro commento!



(1) FERRAROTTI, Franco, Partire tornare. Viaggiatori e pellegrini alla fine del millennio, Roma, Donzelli (“Le Saggine”), 1999.

(2) GALIMBERTI, Umberto, “Viaggio, Istruzioni per l’uso”, La Repubblica, 7 luglio 1999.

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