Tourist trap

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The Independent Online

The trouble with tourism is that there are just so few really unspoilt places to go these days. Try to follow, Bilbo Baggins-like, the path that leads from your front door to the remotest places and you are likely to find that somebody from Nebraska has already signed the visitor's book there. Now Mars is the next destination for those who want to see new places and mess them up.

The trouble with tourism is that there are just so few really unspoilt places to go these days. Try to follow, Bilbo Baggins-like, the path that leads from your front door to the remotest places and you are likely to find that somebody from Nebraska has already signed the visitor's book there. Now Mars is the next destination for those who want to see new places and mess them up.

Even before people landed on the Moon 33 years ago, the red planet served as that essential of the human imagination – the place just out of reach where anything can happen. It is the source of little green men; of visitors who would be puzzled by our approach to everything from transport policy to reproduction. And it is the object of our fantasies, such as Ray Bradbury's fable of colonisation and the yearning for the simple life. What will we do when settlers really live there and leave their Volvic bottles all over the polar ice cap?

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