SYDNEY, June 22 (Dialogue) The world was shocked to see rescuers frantically search for the Titanic submersible, which went missing while trying to take tourists to the North Atlantic to view the wreck of the Titanic.
The horrific incident has raised questions about why people engage in dangerous tourism in remote areas and whether there should be more restrictions on what thrill-seekers can do.
What is border tourism?
This type of travel, known as “frontier tourism,” is becoming big business.
The broader adventure tourism industry is already worth billions of dollars and growing fast. Frontier tourism is a unique and extreme form of adventure travel.
These trips are expensive, designed to over-stimulate the senses and travel to the outer limits of our planet—deep seas, mountains, polar regions—even space.
Frontier tourism is nothing new; humans have been exploring remote areas for millennia. Pacific Islanders used the stars to navigate the oceans for migration and trade. Europeans sailed to the edge of what they thought was a flat Earth.
In recent years, however, border tourism has gotten a lot of attention due to the pervasive queues on Mount Everest, the TikTok phenomenon of #DrakePassage across Antarctica, and the rapid growth of space tourism for the rich.
The surge in popularity has been fueled by the rise of travel content sharing on social media and post-COVID-19 retaliatory travel.
Why are we so obsessed with extreme forms of tourism?
Dangerous activity releases addictive chemicals in the brain. Research shows that participating in risky tourist activities, such as mountain climbing, can lead to a sense of accomplishment and euphoria. Travelers reported feeling energized and experiencing a sense of transformation.
Some are also drawn to the raw, untouched and remote aspects of the places they visit. Also, it can be tempting to have an element of fantasy associated with imagining certain locations or stories, such as the movie Titanic.
In addition to physical boundaries, there is a thrill in pushing the human body to its limits and confronting fears head-on. Base jumping, skydiving, bungee jumping and polar diving are common examples.
In more mundane terms, even tasting “terrible food” takes visitors out of their comfort zone and helps them feel alive.
Still others undertake extreme tourism, following in the footsteps of heroes, such as a trip to Antarctica to pay tribute to explorer Ernest Shackleton.
Extreme and dangerous activities not only euphoria the participants, but also convey status. This comes with bragging rights when ticking off the list and sharing the experience on social media. Research shows that many travelers seek recognition for their first, longest or most extreme experience.
But border tourism is clearly not for everyone. It’s often only accessible to a privileged few, something Titans’ dire situation underscores. Passengers on board reportedly paid $250,000 for the voyage.
What are the impacts of border tourism?
Besides the unspeakable anxiety that friends and family must endure when things go wrong, there are many other effects of this form of tourism.
This type of travel can cause environmental hazards and negatively impact local communities. For example, after decades of massive mountaineering, the environmental impact of Mount Everest must be addressed.
When accidents do occur, search and rescue efforts can be costly and place rescuers at great risk. The plight of border tourists is often the focus of media coverage, while emergency responders are often ignored.
Sherpas such as Nimsdai Purja are working on this problem recently. With the Netflix documentary 14 Peaks, he explains the behind-the-scenes preparation and heavy lifting that goes into Sherpas guiding and rescuing tourists up Everest and other mountains.
Border tourism won’t disappear
Despite tragedies like the disappearance of the Titans, tourists are still keen to seek the most unique experiences in the most remote and unknown places.
Tourists are also increasingly feeling able to embark on trips once considered too dangerous, as technology and other innovations have made travel ostensibly safer and more convenient.
In many cases, the danger remains, but the business transaction removes the perceived risk involved. Marketing materials are designed to sell “safe” adventures, and the risks are usually listed in the fine print. Pole diving in Antarctica, for example, is often advertised as safe because participants are tethered to a rope and swim time is limited to prevent hypothermia.
Twenty years ago, when anthropologist Valene Smith predicted the growth of space tourism, he said that what tourists want, the industry will provide. This has become a self-evident truth, as the Titan voyage proved.
The massive growth in border tourism could lead to bigger problems if the industry doesn’t respond in the right way. If travelers are exposing themselves to great risk, whose responsibility is it to ensure their safety and recovery should an accident occur?
Many travel businesses and travel insurance companies advise guests of the risks. However, the requirements for disclosing risks vary from country to country. This means travelers may have to assess the risk themselves, which is fraught with danger if the company has low standards.
One solution is to experience border tourism in a controlled and secure environment through digital storytelling or augmented and mixed reality. However, that may not be enough for adrenaline junkies.
The unpredictability and unintended consequences of frontier tourism are very real things, as the Titan incident demonstrates. While money can allow us to travel almost anywhere, it’s worth considering whether some places should remain untouched, sacred, and completely off-limits. (dialogue)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the body of content may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)