Many travel magazines focus on those coveted “authentic” travel experiences; amazing places that reveal the genuine beauty and cultural experience of a life time. If you read often about travel destinations through travel magazines, tour guides and other websites, I am sure you had your version of romance with the places you wish to see. But the fact is, you will be disappointed more often than you could expect when you visit the actual places; the reason could be wrong time of visit, bad planning or simply your over expectations.As part of my job as an IT consultant, I had been fortunate enough to travel more than 10 countries and visit the famous tourist destinations there. To be honest not all of my visits to tourist destinations were able to meet my expectations, which by the way are modest. I started to wonder if there is any way I could evaluate the places to my tastes. Nope, I couldn’t find an answer.But then I came across something very strange that has been thriving – fake tourist destinations. At first I thought it’s just a shabby job to cash in on the travel aspirations of desperate people who can’t afford to travel. But, no, I was wrong. This is a balloon safari at tropical islands resorts in Berlin. Yes everything is inside an artificial dome. Do you want to have a wonderful dinner among the Mayan ruins of Mexico? You can have that in Florida, yes believe me. Germany has no beaches yet Germans love to have that beach experience. They need to plan travel, arrange expenses and expect there will be ample sunlight on the day. But Tropical Islands Resort, provided that experience with some sand, water, artificial waves, right in Berlin. And people are loving it. A vast sky and a beautiful beach. A hot humid climate, throughout the year in Europe is a unique experience which is impossible. So a fake one suit the needs. Especially if it’s surrounded by Bora Bora caves, it is an amazing getaway. Dubai’s seasons are hot, hotter and hottest. If you are living there and you have this desire of skiing or snowboarding you should part with a huge amount of money in travelling to other part of the globe. But hold your travel plans for now. Right in Dubai, you can snowboard, at any time through out the year; courtesy Ski Dubai Indoor Ski Center. Blessed are those who witnessed Jesus being crucified in the holy land. Oops! I just told the rest of the people born after the incident are unfortunate. But don’t worry, you can still see Jesus being beaten by Roman soldiers right in Florida. If you are an average Chinese man/woman, your wish to see the White House may remain unfulfilled, but wait I am wrong. You can see the white house and the famous sculptures of the US presidents right in China. If you want to celebrate your marriage at the pyramids of Giza, even that could be done without much effort and money and a wonderful experience is yours. That pacific sunset you love to watch is possible right inside Germany.These places that you just saw are not just doing good, they are thriving. They provide ease and convenience. The fact that a lot of people are visiting them show that people are happy to skip the effort and expense of travel in favor of a cheap, comfortable simulacrum of the real thing.These places themselves are amazingly fake, but the desire for a shared escape into a collective, imaginary other place — is real, and substantial. That’s the hidden human need these places are addressing.If I would have to make a choice, first I would pick the fake – it’s easy, convenient, collective and otherworldly. What about you?All photographs © Reiner Riedler. Courtesy Sous Les Etoiles Gallery, New York, Heartgalerie, Paris, and Anzenberger Gallery, Vienna.
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