As someone who travels whenever possible and loves to explore new places and cultures, the international aspect of this course was the most appealing to me when I registered for the class. After all, who doesn't find international tourism interesting? As it turns out, there are many more complex issues involved in international tourism than one might think.
We studied the fundamentals of the international tourism system and the complex web of relationships between tourists, local populations, infrastructure, government and business. We also studied sex tourism and the exploitation of children by sex tourists, safety issues for tourists, terrorism and environmental degradation.
One of the most interesting components of the international tourism system we studied was interpretation. When most people think of interpretation, they think of interpreting from one language to another. However, the interpretation we studied was regarding tour guides and others interpreting historical sites, natural landscapes, and other attractions to visiting tourists. The way in which a site is interpreted has an enormous influence on what the tourist learns and takes home with them. Interpretation is an art that should relate personally to the tourist, reveal the site in holistic and profound way, and provoke the tourist to engage in the site and its history.
Another aspect of international tourism we studied was "ecotourism" vs "eco-sell." We learned how to become smarter tourists and more responsible international ambassadors by learning criteria to assess tour providers. This allows us to determine whether a tour provider is actually operating a sustainable enterprise, or is just claiming to be "green" while damaging the environment or harming local populations.
With everything I learned this semester, I will certainly be a smarter tourist in the future. This will enable me to not only learn more form the places and people I am visiting, but it will allow me to contribute positively to the destination as well.
Regarding the writing component of this course, I feel that I have learned some concrete things about writing style that have already helped me. Two of the most important things I learned are simplicity and varying sentence lengths.
As a science major, I have spent most of my college career writing scientific papers and lab reports. Because of this, my writing can sometimes be stiff and complex. This course has made me aware of my tendency to use too many long sentences with complex structures. Now I am more likely to simplify complex sentences into several shorter, more readable sentences.
Another writing technique that I learned in this course was to vary sentence lengths. In addition to splitting up complex sentences, I learned that varying sentence lengths is a great way to get some "rhythm" in my writing. Reading similar length sentences over and over can get monotonous. This is especially true if the sentences are complex and wordy. Throwing in a shorter sentence here and there can help maintain interest. Even the occasional fragment!
In summary, this class was a great way to learn about the complex dynamics and contemporary issues involved in international tourism. At the same time, I was able to significantly improve my writing while researching and elaborating on subjects as engaging as international travel, social media campaigns, and environmental awareness.