The Tourism Industry Insults My Intelligence

Welcome to Lucerne, Switzerland.  The city houses some of the most amazing tourist spots in the country, which for Switzerland is saying quite a lot.  This is the Church of St. Leodegar:

churchhotel12 1

Beautiful, isn’t it?  I, like most photographers, took the necessary step of cropping out the street and parking lot near the front stairway.  You can still tell it’s a busy area because of all the power lines and bus cables running across the picture.

I get it.  Public transportation is clean and sexy and incredibly convenient in a city like Lucerne.  But don’t the people who travel massive distances to see this (and the people who see it on a daily basis) deserve to appreciate it when they see it?  How about the intrinsic value of maintaining the surroundings of something like this?  I know, maybe it’s the ecologically friendly urban planners thinking they can get potential tourists to abstain from using all that jet fuel to get to Lucerne if they quietly sabotage the sights.  Only the Swiss are permitted to mess with Swiss landmarks!

Realistically, though, I know it’s not always feasible to divert traffic away from a particular location.  The church isn’t totally ruined, after all.  All you have to do is look upwards, kind of like I was doing when I cropped this photo, and you still have something amazing.


In the photo, take a look at the far left, about a third of the way up.  Here’s a close-up:

This image was created specifically for the Weekly Photo Challenge (The Sign Says) at

This image was created specifically for the Weekly Photo Challenge (The Sign Says) at

Beautiful, isn’t it?  And how convenient for the handful of tourists who stay there!  It’s like framing a Picasso with a toilet seat.

Never underestimate the tourism industry’s ability to muck up something wonderful and then claim they’re doing it for your benefit.

The hotel sign was smaller than a fingernail clipping on the original picture, and this was an old school photograph.  No digital camera.  With my old camera, I had to take the photo from across the street and, therefore, had a lot of cables and less-beautiful things end up in my picture.  Back then, it wasn’t possible to get really close to what you were photographing and then zoom out to make it fit.

So now we get pretty pictures of the church when we look online and we never learn how the vicinity is really being treated.  Chalk another one up to “keeping the people blissfully ignorant.”

Or, perhaps, keeping them ignorant until they spend the money to go visit.

10 thoughts on “The Tourism Industry Insults My Intelligence

  1. “It’s like framing a Picasso with a toilet seat.” Interesting analogy. Perhaps it’s just a different form of art. The juxtaposition of beauty and pedestrian, grungy, beaten down life makes the beauty more unique. It takes the church itself from being art and makes the entire area a performance.

    • I can see where you’d get that idea, but there’s a thing or two you need to know about that area. The church is located within reasonable walking distance of many of the city’s other attractions. Outside of the ski areas, Lucerne may be Switzerland’s biggest tourist destination, which means that prices are inflated even farther beyond the typically exorbitant cost of everything in Switzerland.

      A night in a (6 to 10 bed) dorm room in a Lucerne hostel will run thirty five dollars (per person) at the very least. A night in that hotel probably runs somewhere between 150.00 and 200.00 per night. For people familiar with the area, there’s nothing “beaten down life” about it.

      • Thanks for your clarification. I completely agree in this case. It’s simply poor maintenance and a lack of appreciation for the area.

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  3. Oh yes, I’ve been thinking this so many times. There are so many sights that are surrounded by cables, signs, parking cars and advertising that it is almost impossible to take a decent photograph of them.

      • lol. When I was in Brussels on the Grand Place last year, I thought that I was very clever to be there quite early in the morning to avoid tourist crowds on my photos. What I hadn’t been thinking of were the uncountable trucks who were delivering their goods to the restaurants. So I have almost no photograph of the guild houses without a truck driving into my photo. I could hardly restrain myself from yelling at them.

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