I suppose it's natural for anyone to approach travel to foreign lands with some trepidation, but Paul Fussell ("The Lost Art of Travel," Traveling in Style, June 2) seems to be bent on inciting terror in would-be travelers.
According to this dour and mean-spirited article, American Tourists, that odious breed, have trekked their slimy footprints all over the globe, committing the unspeakable crimes of pouring millions of dollars into local economies, purchasing the crafts of indigenous artisans and acting friendly. Well gosh, pardon us, would you please.
I actually share Fussell's concerns over the environmental and economic impacts of corporate tourism, but he speaks rather idealistically of the kind of uncharted exploration which has led to disaster--and sometimes death--for the uninformed naif. Tourism, while admittedly blunting and editing the cross-cultural experience, is designed to protect the traveler as much from his own curiosity as from the land he wants to explore.
And unwittingly, Fussell makes this point himself. Heck, if you can get into big trouble just for smiling in the wrong part of the world, maybe we are better off with tour guides.