To most outsiders living in a resort town must seem like an idyllic existence. After all, your home is a vacation destination for millions. People from all over the world spend their hard earned money for the privilege of visiting and spending time in a place that you already call home. When looked at from another angle – from the perspective of the permanent residents of these towns – things take on a more skewed perspective. Many year round Queenstown residents see the millions of tourists who pass through their town as “day-walkers” or, to put it in less flattering terms, “cash-cows.” They also tend to see the seasonal staff that fill in the temporary jobs during the height of the tourist season as “seasonaries” – i.e. people with temporary jobs, temporary cars, temporary homes and even temporary phones.
So far this is nothing out of the ordinary for resort towns all across the world. What causes problems among the permanent community, however, is forming relationships with these temporary visitors. It could be a weekend fling with a backpacker passing through, or it could be a torrid month long affair with a guest worker who is only there for the summer. While relationships are nice – forming these connections and then saying goodbye at the end of the week/month/season over and over again is not. Sadly this is a reality for many full time residents in vacation communities. Forming long lasting relationships or friendships with outsiders/guests/visitors is simply not an option due to the seasonal nature of the community.
This cycle of seasonal relationship followed by breakup changes people. For some, it hardens their hearts to outsiders. They’ll be happy to serve them, work with them and earn a living off them, but they draw a line in the sand when it comes to forming any real connection. They’ve been burned too many times before to go down that path once again. This is problematic because it denies the lifelong resident what could otherwise be meaningful and mutually rewarding relationships with people from all over the world and all walks of life. They essentially become the “insular, unfriendly local” stereotype.
On the other hand, some year-long residents believe that it does not matter how long a person stays in their community. They simply accept fleeting relationships and brief friendships as par for the course. These folks tend to focus more on the people they meet and experiences they have rather than the time they spend with them. This is the healthier option when it comes to relationships, friendships or even basic human interactions in a resort city like Queenstown. Humans are inherently social creatures, and will always want to be with their fellow man or woman – even if for a limited amount of time. Whether having a 5 minute chat over coffee with a perfect stranger or falling in love with someone who may not be here when the season changes, we all need that human touch.
In spite of the difficulty of finding something permanent with the huge numbers of people who pass through their shores, people in resort towns and vacation hotspots all over the world should count themselves lucky – not just for the beautiful place they call home, but also for the opportunity to be exposed to a lifetime experiences in their own back yards.