Lessons for Travel’s Recovery from Anthony Bourdain’s New Book – Skift
There is an episode in the 10th season of the late Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown where he had lunch at a restaurant in southern Italy but refused to give up the name of the place – a rarity for a show known to raise awareness of different cultures. around the world and the small businesses that populate each one.
Bourdain, breaking the fourth wall, admitted that he did not want to ruin the atmosphere of the restaurant by blowing up his comings and goings in the universe via the airwaves of CNN.
His posthumous travel guide released at the end of last month – World Travel: An Irreverent Guide – contains a similar message that can just as easily be translated into how the world should plan their return to travel after the devastation of the coronavirus.
That being Bourdain, he and his longtime co-writer / assistant Laurie Woolever cynically admit that there are only a limited number of spots in the world that can be saved from the clutches of Instagram and TikTok influencers. But that doesn’t mean travel has to follow the rules of public engagement when the pandemic returns.
“In some cases, a business has succumbed to the ‘Bourdain effect’, meaning that once a low-key restaurant or bar or sausage stand has been featured at the show, its number of customers has often skyrocketed, with pilgrims inspired by Bourdain. showing up in droves to try out what Tony had on camera, ”Woolever wrote in the introduction. “In theory, that was a good thing, a coveted thing for business, but it could also completely disrupt a beloved local institution, turning it into a side show or, depending on how the business has it. run, a crappy show.
Bourdain committed suicide during a visit to France in 2018 before he could fully develop the manuscript for World Travel. But there’s still one undeniable lesson in the finished pages to be had here for travel recovery: don’t just fall back on the Skift-invented “overtourism” of pre-pandemic life.
It may seem like an opportunity already bypassed for this summer, when national vacation destinations in countries around the world expect to handle record crowds. Plus, so many of these small businesses have suffered from capacity restrictions and forced shutdowns at various times over the past year – are we really supposed to stay low when things reopen?
You don’t have to stay away, but at least aim for a more thoughtful trip this summer. Are those capacity restrictions relaxed? These may be improving, but travel companies are now facing a labor shortage crisis that would have been unfathomable weeks ago. Don’t take it personally if service is slow or your coveted hotel room is taking longer to open – one person is doing the work of five people this summer just to host your vacation.
It’s a lot easier to go with the flow and let these things slip away when you walk in with an open mind and have done your homework. Understand and appreciate where you are traveling rather than arriving with a “This is how I travel – or whatever” mentality.
Readers get a sense of Bourdain’s approach to this topic throughout the book, as well as some of its shortcomings.
A trip to Croatia required reading a two-volume book written by Rebecca West during her 1937 trip through the Balkan states. The rest of his research came from “Cable News [about] a war that took place almost two decades ago, ”Woolever retired from the voiceover of Bourdain in the 2012 episode of No Reservations on Croatia while discussing the wars in the Balkans and Yugoslavia.
But openness and research, as limited as it may have been in certain destinations, has often led to epiphanies like that of Croatia.
“I’ll tell you honestly: if you love food and haven’t come here to eat, you really miss the f-ing boat. It’s world class food; it is a world class wine; it’s a world-class cheese, ”Bourdain said on No Reservations. “The next big thing is Croatia. If you haven’t been here, you are an idiot. I am an idiot.”
Nine years later, the world has clearly understood. Croatia was one of the few international destinations to welcome American travelers last summer amid the pandemic, and demand there is on the rise to become a booming summer travel city. Delta and United both announced new service to Dubrovnik this summer from the United States
No tourist traps
This brings us back to the idea of thoughtful travel and why it is so important: Major players in the travel industry will not incorporate concerns of overtourism into their near-term recovery as long as it does. there will still be such limited income on the table and everyone. must fight for leisure travelers.
This article comes to you from Provincetown, Massachusetts, where Bourdain got his start in the restaurant industry as a dishwasher at the now closed Flagship Restaurant.
“Provincetown, a wonderland of tolerance, a long-standing tradition of accepting artists, writers, ill-behaved, gay, different,” Bourdain said of the city in 2014.
But even Bourdain’s bohemian 1970s P-town can’t escape the impending overtourism of 2021. Instead of morning walks filled with the usual soundtrack of the Outer Cape wind, waves and the dissonance of the seagulls, of late, it’s the roar of one in four licensed parties have asked to be seated immediately at a nearby cafe because they are due back in Boston in four hours.
Part of this is inevitable, as people have been locked up for a year or more. But as things open up this summer and return to normal, travelers and travel agents can at least be a little more thoughtful about how they’re coming back.
Bourdain’s approach to another city P, ok, a city P (Paris) sums up what people have to think about once the shock and fear of being able to travel again wears off.
“The worst thing to do when you come to Paris is to plan too much,” Bourdain said in a 2012 episode of The Layover. “The Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, stand in line for hours to experience what everyone else tells you to do. Me? I like to relax in Paris, especially if I’m only in town for a few days.
A lesson for future guides
Woolever and Bourdain met once about the book in 2018 before his death that same year. The guide was originally billed as a travel book containing 43 different countries and a dozen Bourdain essays. But the finished product reads more like a compilation of the greatest hits of his writing and television programs over his shortened life, as well as essays from friends, family, and guests on the show.
Although the book is not a secret manuscript discovered hidden in Bourdain’s office, it should be a lesson so that future travel guides are not so sterile.
Woolever is blunt in the sense that things are changing, especially in some of the more geopolitical hotspots, so this is almost more of a guide to travel vibes than finding the trendiest restaurant or hotel. from Morocco or Macao. However, they still include a lot of them.
It’s easy to be nostalgic for what this book could have been (“Let’s do all we can out there,” Bourdain said of Oman at the book planning meeting held with Woolever. “I really love this place. I want to encourage people to go there.”). But there are also Bourdain shadows found in the essays that made it into the book.
Her brother, Christopher, praised a roadside burger and hot dog (Hiram’s Roadstand) in Fort Lee, N.J. the two visited on a trip to an unfortunately gentrifying Jersey coast in 2015.
Hiram was largely unchanged except for a modern bathroom – and even that was too much for the Bourdain brothers: “That scary gas station-style rest room, that is, outside, outside. the back. Why waste a little piece of 1930s perfection? “
Progress is fine, but don’t mess with the classics.