chapter  5
24 Pages

Sacred Sites

In the consumer world, travel is imbedded in our consciousness as a right. The integration of corporate marketing with frequent flier programmes has entirely confused our sense of rights and privileges. High consumption is being rewarded through travel, as Visa and other credit card companies woo us for market share. Airline points are now so common that they can be traded like currency. On world travel markets, industry’s renditions of paradise have long been sold. This has created a financial incentive for companies to source out more obscure products. More and more companies are turning to commercial opportunities described as New Age, promising some form of cosmic grit. Many people distanced by consumerism from their own connection to the sacred will pay to have even a small vestige of it back. Marketing firms welcome this tension between consumerism and the sacred. It creates value on the mass market for experiences that are considered priceless. This is fertile ground for tourism, especially ‘eco’ or cultural tourism that promises to stir body and soul. Many consumers want to feel more alive and in touch with primal needs. Through sophisticated marketing, they are manipulated by their own sense of something missing. During recent years, a number of credit card companies have capitalized on this trend. Their ad campaigns equate travel with freedom. The message: it is worth going into debt to buy your freedom. Here, two spiritual poles are juxtaposed in order to ensnare the consumer. Sentimentality is used to create a yearning for simpler times and slower moments. Through tourism, you can buy a bundle of days where time is seemingly suspended.