Western begpackers are back in Asia and mainly in Thailand, a country they particularly like, which is far from reciprocal.
Begpacking is a hybrid term combining ‘begging’ and ‘backpacking’, it’s a new phenomenon that sees Western travelers flocking to other countries to intentionally beg to finance their trip.
While some people don’t mind needy Westerners traveling, many Asian citizens resent the behavior of these privileged people.
Many Asian countries are currently plagued by poverty, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The continent is home to two-thirds of the world’s poor.
Over a billion people in Asia live on less than $2 a day.
As a result of the pandemic, more than 75 million people in Asia have fallen below the poverty line, according to the Asian Development Bank.
While many Asian citizens live in poverty, some locals are shocked to see these Western travelers begging.
While some travelers do not hesitate to beg openly and freely, other Western beggars try to lessen the shock of their begging by offering goods in exchange for money to passers-by.
See: Debate: can tourists beg or sell trinkets in Thailand?
A day in the life of a begpacker
Stephen Pratt, head of the department at the University of Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, told CNN about his stay in Hong Kong, during which he studied this phenomenon.
Pratt infiltrated the town, begging as he pleased to see how the locals reacted to his behavior.
His study led him to conclude that American beggars fall into three categories:
- Those who beg according to their performance
- Those who sell goods
- Those who beg with nothing to exchange
Begging is illegal in most Asian countries where it is practiced, such as Thailand, Indonesia and India.
This does not prevent Westerners from risking a large fine to finance their trip.
See: 2 Russian tourists, fleeing the war, arrested for begging in Thailand
While this behavior offends locals, Pratt believes the inconvenience of begpacking is the catalyst for a broader conversation about travel accessibility.
“This shame raises the following question:
Is international travel reserved for a certain category of people or for people with a certain level of income? Mr. Pratt said.
“I think tourists themselves are held more accountable today than in the past. »
Raphael Pangalangan, a Filipino human rights lawyer, wrote in an April 2023 column that beggars highlight the phenomenon of “passport privilege”.
This term is used to emphasize the difference in ease of travel for people with certain passports compared to others, for example, members of European Union countries who can travel freely within the continent compared to people like Pangalangan who have to go through waits and paperwork to obtain travel visas and go abroad.
“Begpacking highlights the double standard of passport privilege and exposes the inherent inequalities in our global society,” Mr Pangalangan wrote.
See as well :
Begpackers, or beggar travellers, are back in Thailand, and that’s not to everyone’s tastes
The resumption of international tourism in Thailand comes with associated problems
Source: Yahoo, CNN