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We’re number 10. Ireland that is. Well a part of it. October 30, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Not entirely surprised to find North Wales in the Lonely Planet’s best places to visit on Earth. Not sure though that appearing in lists like this does any great favours for some of these locations. For example…

Topping the list is Choquequirao, Peru, which is expected to see the opening of a new cable car next year and is home to a spectacular Inca settlement, which Lonely Planet describes as like “exploring Machu Picchu before the hordes and mass commerce.”

Yes. But for how long now the word is out? And Slate.com made a point that I think is very valid in a piece that I can’t now find the link to that for those who live in places on lists like this tourism can be profoundly transformative and not necessarily in a good way.

And we make an appearance too:

Choquequirao, Peru
Taranaki, New Zealand
The Azores, Portugal
North Wales, UK
South Australia
Aysén, Chile
The Tuamotus, French Polynesia
Coastal Georgia, USA
Perak, Malaysia
The Skellig Ring, Ireland

Never been to the Skellig’s – and I don’t think I particularly want to land. But a boat trip around would be good.


1. Michael Carley - October 30, 2016

And Slate.com made a point that I think is very valid in a piece that I can’t now find the link to that for those who live in places on lists like this tourism can be profoundly transformative and not necessarily in a good way.

True, and here’s something similar on UNESCO `world heritage’ status:

unesco’s ‘World Heritage’ listing is the kiss of death. Once the label is affixed, the city’s life is snuffed out; it is ready for taxidermy. This urbicide—horrible word—is not perpetrated deliberately. On the contrary, it is committed in all good faith and with the loftiest of intentions: to preserve—unaltered—a ‘legacy’ of humanity. As the word suggests, to ‘preserve’ means to embalm, to freeze, to save something from temporal decay; but here it also means halting time, fixing the object as in a photograph, protecting it from growth and change. There are, of course, monuments that need to be looked after. But if the Acropolis had been under a conservation order in 450 bc, we would not now have the Parthenon, the Propylaeum or the Erechtheum. unesco would have been horrified by the Rome of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which produced an admirable potpourri of neoclassicism, mannerism and the baroque.

It is not impossible to strike a balance between construction and preservation—to live in cities full of museums and works of art, rather than in mausoleums with dormitory suburbs. Not long ago I went back to San Gimignano for the first time in thirty years. There was not a single genuine butcher, greengrocer or baker within its walls. But in fact, once the bars, restaurants and souvenir shops had closed for the night, none of San Gimignano’s inhabitants were to be found in the old city—they all live outside its walls, in modern apartment blocks close to shopping centres. Within them, everything has become a set for a medieval costume movie, with the inevitable products of ‘invented tradition’ on commercial display. The smaller the city, the quicker its demise.

The Laotian city of Luang Prabang has suffered the same fate. Its historic centre is now a tourist trap. Its houses have been converted into hotels and restaurants, with the usual street market—identical the world over—selling the same necklaces, woven bags and leather belts. Paradoxically, the unintended consequence of wanting to preserve the uniqueness of a place is to produce a ‘non-place’, one that is replicated at World Heritage sites across the planet. Just as one has to leave the medieval walls to find the true inhabitants of San Gimignano, so one has to cycle a mile along the Phothisalath Road, beyond Phu Vao, to find where the Laotians live. Or take Portugal: walking through Porto, the invisible frontier of the World Heritage quarter is immediately perceptible: the heterogeneous humanity of its urban fabric gives way as if by magic to a monoculture of innkeepers, bar-tenders and waiters, touting for customers who will be instantly recognizable by their clothes—shorts, hiking boots—which are radically unsuitable for city wear. In Britain, few places are as deadly as the historic centres of Bath and Edinburgh. [2] Notably, both host festivals, the inevitable function of a World Heritage city. Venice has the film festival and several biennales, Avignon a theatre festival, Spoleto, in Umbria, has its Festival dei Due Mondi. In other cases—Salzburg, Bayreuth—a prestigious festival provides the rationale for unesco listing. These towns are given World Heritage status because they are already theatrical backdrops, picturesque still-lifes; conversely, the theatrical or musical performances the label attracts can afford them a semblance of vitality.

https://newleftreview.org/II/88/marco-d-eramo-unescocide (subscription required, but you might be able to get it through a library, certainly in a university.)


2. lamentreat - October 30, 2016

All solid points I totally agree with, but there is a complicating factor – often a perfectly preserved historic city is a sign of a pre-existing stagnation lasting centuries. A thriving city very rarely ‘preserves’ itself over centuries in quite that way. Take a city like Cadiz in Spain, it is partly a beautiful crumbling ruin, but it is only that way because history moved on and left it behind.


WorldbyStorm - October 30, 2016

That’s a very fair point. Two additional thoughts. I’m always surprised by just how many tourists are now visible in Dublin – I’ve photos of Thomas St. c. 1987/8 with next to no cars parked on it and no traffic at all and that would be early Summer of one of those years. And I can’t help but think that for all the problems it’s probably a better situation today than then for many many more people.


3. FergusD - October 31, 2016

Son number 1 visited Skellig this summer. A bit scary walking up, more scary coming down he thought! Like me, not much of a head for heights! However, he thought it was fantastic. Fortunately had good weather.


WorldbyStorm - October 31, 2016

You’d need the weather. Definitely. It looks astounding.


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