I recently reviewed Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism by Elizabeth Becker for Booklist. Here are several thoughts that I could not fit into the 175 word review.
I don't think I will ever want to take a cruise. At least not on a gigantic cruise ship, which is more like a combination shopping mall and resort hotel than a ship of the sea. Most cruises are designed to keep you on board spending money most of the time. Being licensed by remote third world nations, they often do not adhere to any responsible environmental or labor laws. According to journalist Elizabeth Becker in Overbooked, her book on the travel and tourism industry, waiters and other service staff, mostly hired from poor nations, work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for about $50 per month. They are instructed by the cruise operators to lobby guests for generous tips. That is exploitation. Vacationers almost always spend more than they expect and see very little of whatever ports they pass. You might as well be at the Mall of America. What fun is that?
Travel journalism does not adhere to the ethics of responsible news reporting. Hotels, resorts, ships, airlines, etc. often give travel writers free tickets and special attention. As a result, most travel literature is uncritical.
According to Becker, the tourist industry in Florida has so much power that it has fought off legislation to increase the days required in Florida public schools. Hotel owners, resort operators, and other business want the cheap labor of students for as much of the year as they can get.
Becker's book does have reports of tourism done right, too. Still, I remember the horror stories and want to be careful how I spend my tourist dollars.
Becker, Elizabeth. Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism. Simon and Schuster, 2013. 432p. ISBN 9781439160992.