The idyllic setting of Danny Boyle’s film The Beach presents this place as a space of longing and escape – longing for the return to a more natural, idealized way of life and escape from everyday life. Even as the film draws upon the paradigm of the idyll in its depiction of the beach, it simultaneously deconstructs any notion of a habitable paradise on Earth. Using semiotic theories of space, this article examines the ambivalence of modern tourist desires. The film shows how the continuous narrativization of an idyllic space becomes the impetus for a community of backpackers to risk their lives for illusory ideals which cannot be upheld in reality.
The discrepancy between common temporary expectations of Switzerland as idyll on the one hand, and the reality of its industrially organized tourism on the other, imposes irritations upon the touristic gaze. This article, then, traces the origins of this discrepancy and examines the relationship between Swiss idyll and tourism in the 19th century. The analyses of Ida Hahn-Hahn’s Eine Idylle and Hans Christian Andersen’s Iisjomfruen showcase different ways of relating idyll and tourism to one another as well as the aesthetic merit produced by this constellation.
The article examines the relation of tourism and idyll in regard to the mediation of the tourist experience. Digital detox tourism and off grid tourism are two examples of contemporary tourism – including their respective practices and ways of promotion – that associate certain cultural stereotypes with the idyll. While digital detox tourism promises independence from the digital world, off grid tourism detaches the tourist from infrastructure and supplies. Paradoxically, the advertising of these types of ‘disconnection’ makes use of the same linked infrastructures that tourists are bound to leave behind. Thus, this article reveals the ways in which digital detox tourism and off grid tourism remain dependent on those networks.