Trust me, I'm an honest hack

If You ever wanted to know what a real press trip was like I'm now going to spill the beans, because I've just been on one (to the Seychelles).

I'll grant that a trip to a beach paradise in the Indian Ocean might not seem like a particularly tough assignment, though whether paradise will really involve being cooped up with five journalists and a PR rep for a week is slightly doubtful.

This is, basically, what press trips are all about: PR reps trying to sell a place to journalists by showing them as many good things about that place in as short a time as possible.

Naturally, the good things about a country from a touristic point of view tend to involve aperetifs at sunset, fine wines, fresh lobster, exclusive hotels, luxury swimming pools etc. They would not normally involve the soothing attention of the rep and thrill of being on a blind date with strangers (the other journalists) in an exotic climate.

In theory journalists are supposed to inspect what is on offer with the spirit of journalistic inquiry. They lug their notepads around, assessing the sandiness of the beaches, the picturesque qualities of the palm trees, the tallness of the Pina Coladas and wearily jot down the details as they go.

In case you were wondering whether they insist on wearing trilbys and dirty raincoats as they sip their cocktails on the beach, however, the answer is no. Personally I was wearing a silly sombrero and embroidered sandals for most of this particular trip, and my luggage comprised more sun tan lotion and insect repellent than pens and notepads.

Not that this need have interfered with my spirit of journalistic inquiry. In fact, being able to talk with besuited hotel executives while in my beachwear struck me as highly liberating.

What was much more worrying of course was the sinister possibility that the PR representative was giving me free lobster, not merely to enable me to assess the qualities of, say, Seychellois lobster as opposed to Mauritian lobster, but, in fact, to hoodwink me into putting into print the idea that lobsters grow on trees in the Seychelles.

Or even worse (assuming that journalists are not really that naive), to tempt me into writing nice things about the Seychelles with the subliminal threat that my lobster supply would be withdrawn unless I did so.

Journalists accepting

dodgy brown envelopes in exchange for good reports? Nice, cosy relationships between the trade and the press at the expense of ordinary holiday consumers? The unspoken promise of future trips if everything works out "nicely" with the write-up? As far as my trip to the Seychelles went, the evidence was inconclusive. I observed the curious phenomenon of people from trade magazines taking notes and conducting serious interviews while in their swimsuits. They did not look like fat cats. I personally found it hard to dispute that the Seychelles seemed a nice place to spend a holiday, and found it odd that the Seychelles Tourist Board were so anxious to prove this obvious fact.

Far from wallowing in the hospitality though, we were oppressed by the obligation of having to meet so many hoteliers and eat so many banquets in so short a space of time. We were also distracted by our own fascinating group dynamics, to the point where the Seychelles themselves became something of a sideline.

Perhaps more interestingly though, conversations - as always in the travel trade - revolved around the "product". We were presented with the islands of the Seychelles as a commodity to be consumed by tourists. The fact that this was actually a country with real people living in it was almost overlooked.

Instead of free lobster, what would have seduced me would have been the chance to blunder around the country on my own, running into the local bureaucracy, having altercations with town drunks, standing up on crowded buses (if there had been any crowded buses on the Seychelles).

I realise that there are worse jobs in life than eating banquets in the Seychelles and I'm not going to fall in with those irritating people who complain about having to do them. But I don't think press trips are going to corrupt me.

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
books
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

    Law Costs

    Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

    Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

    £28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

    C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

    Day In a Page

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Chosen to lead the women's wing of the ruling Zanu-PF, the wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding the 90-year old
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model of a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
    She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

    Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

    The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
    American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

    Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

    James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
    Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

    Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

    Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution