Kim Green of the Capital Commission is quoted in today’s Guardian as saying of Founder’s Hall: “We’ll orientate (tourists) in terms of what (to see) and then send them out to touch the real products like Province House.”
This is what’s wrong with tourism: it forces us to look at everything through a set of commodification glasses. No longer can something be an historic building, the centre of our democracy, the heart of our community. Nope, it’s a product. Like Kleenex or Chevy Impalas.
Don’t get me wrong: there are a lot of wonderful things about tourism, and, indeed, I derive a good portion of my livelihood from the tourism industry. At its very root the notion of sharing our home with visitors is a Good Idea.
But we have to be careful of where this takes our thinking, and how it affects the way we look at our home. Province House is my neighbour. If I start looking at it as a “product,” then I start to conceive of my neighbourhood as a product too, and eventually I succumb to the notion that my neighbourhood cum product must be improved as a product. The result? My neighbourhood ceases to be a neighbourhood, loses the qualities that make it interesting to live in, and, ironically, ceases to be of interest to tourists because it becomes generic.