How many tourists with a Lonely Planet in their hands have you spotted while travelling? In any main touristic site there are hundreds of them, often looking at the picture on the guidebook instead of the real thing in front of their eyes. The bible status of the Lonely Planet guidebook is in fact enhanced by the fact that people don’t simply carry it in their bag, occasionally taking it out to consult it, but they have it always, constantly in their hand, like if the “foreign” world they’re in will crumble on them the moment they drop the guide.
If a “secret”, off the beaten track location is on the Lonely Planet you can be more than sure that is not that “secret” anymore. We already how difficult is to find locations not touched yet by mass tourism, and we know that Lonely Planet is bringing “tourists” – and feel free to read that word in the worst possible way – even in the most remote (and once preserved) locations.
Many Hotel, restaurants and activities have become rich thanks to Lonely Planet recommendations, while others went completely out business. A very powerful book indeed.
That Lonely Planet guidebooks shouldn’t be read as a travel bible has always been obvious, first of all because the few reviewers’ opinions and tastes might not necessarily be similar to ours. Nowadays on the Internet you can not only have more reviewers but also see who they are.
A while ago then few came up discovering how one of the authors, , had “plagiarized or made up portions of the popular travel guidebooks and dealt drugs to supplement poor pay”. Kohnstamm goes on that: “writers are underpaid and asked to cover regions where it is pretty much impossible to see/do everything” so the only solution for them is to “figure out how to cut corners in order to survive in the industry … play the game, so to speak, and get freebies, comps and secondhand information about the places they are unable to visit in person.”
But the latest hit comes from the Nobel Peace Laureate and the campaign to Boycott Lonely Planet. With the NLD and Burma’s exiled government she has asked tourists not to visit Burma, as tourism provides the dictatorship with millions of pounds every year, while forced labour has been used to develop many tourist facilities. According to the Campaign Lonely Planet instead “publishes a guide to Myanmar (Burma) and actively promotes tourism to Burma, despite knowing the many ways that tourism lends support to the brutal dictatorship in Burma.”
and join the long list of who signed the if you agree.
When it comes to Flashpacking.. Well it’s definitely not mass tourism; so even without the reasons mentioned above we would never consider any guidebook as a bible, and prefer to read more than one point of view on the net, so .. Lonely Planet, definitely No, Thanks!