Saturday, November 1, 2008

Why holiday in Asia?

You will not normally here this question asked - but I have observed that people tend to display a preference for either holidaying in Asia, or sticking to western countries. Its true that they are very different experiences, and I would offer the following explanation for why people differentiate. I also observe that people tend to change preferences over time.
I think people look to Asia for:
1. Exotic values - Some people are seeking something unfamiliar, where they can take the opportunity to learn a new culture, study a language. Other western countries might be different, but they are far more familiar than Asian countries.
2. Cheap holiday - most Asian countries are sihnificantly poorer than Europe, North America or Oceania so they have a a preference for cheap Asian destinations.
3. Adventure - There is a perception that Asia is the 'wild west' and thus that they can have an adventure, and do things that they would not otherwise do in their own country. Whether its hiking a volcanic peak or temple, or playing around with bar girls.

Travellers motivations for going to other western countries tend to be the opposite:
1. Familiarity - There is a tendency to frown upon the value of Asian values and seek the safety, comfort and familiarity of western countries. Asia is hard work. You are struggling to avoid food poisoning, find foods you are comfortable with. Personal hygiene away from the major cities can deteriorate markedly. I recall the scrappy toilet I was forced to use in a cafe in New Dehli, India.
2. Work - Anyone looking for work in western countries wil have a far easier time in western countries. Apart from teaching English, finance or proramming, there are few job opportunities in Asia. That is surprising because they are strongly in need of western critical thinking skills. Thats not to imply they are only developed in the west, but essentially thats true for cultural reasons, though personal context varies.