You do it. I do it. We do it. Sometimes, especially when we are on the road. Tourists and toilets or tourism and the toilet room are very close bed mates.
One of my pep topics in the industry is the issue of washrooms within our tourism landscape in Ghana, their availability and (when availability) their quality. It is a topic I hope I find the time to attend to. For now I just want to draw readers’ attention to the general relationship between tourism and the toilet.
One of my memorable travel books is titled “No Shitting in the Toilet.” I don’t have that book anymore thanks to the borrower (lol!) But the fact that a book by a traveller broaches the subject is an indicator of its importance as a factor in the travel experience.
Indeed, coined by an Australian-based research group about five years ago, the term “toilet tourism" is gradually gaining ground with various groups engaging the concept in diverse ways. Truth is when you have been on the road long enough you would find fascinating toilets on our travels.
There are those who move around looking for toilets worth sharing. Now there is even the International Toilet Tourism Awards, where people could nominate the most thoughtfully designed public toilets available for tourists in high-income countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US. The idea was that, since nice public toilets can bring more tourist traffic to certain places, super attractive public toilets could ultimately become tourist destinations. Since the group started these awards, they’ve celebrated dozens of beautiful bathrooms.
People love this! But then the group thought, why would toilet tourism be just public toilets? There has been growing interest in toilets (and poo, of course), resulting in more fun and interesting places to visit that go beyond the pure function of toilets. Because of this, Flush, one of the groups mentioned above, gave impetus to the “toilet tourism” concept.
The aim is to highlight the interesting toilet-themed tourist opportunities out there. We include a bunch of things in this term:
Fascinating toilets (for use, ideally), respecting the original term to mean toilets worth visiting because they are beautiful, wacky, unique or super fancy.
Usually, these will be public toilets, and it could include toilets in fascinating places, too. Lonely Planet has a fun book on toilets, as well as the classic table book Toilets of the World – both share images of really interesting and quirky toilets you can see on your travels. A bunch of Instagram accounts out there celebrate public toilets out there by posting toilets they come upon regularly.
Curious toilet history spaces, looking for the history of toilets in the often-neglected pockets of global landmarks. These spaces can uncover some details of how we used to use toilets, what toilets used to look like, and how our culture either accommodated for the necessary duty or moulded the toilet to respect cultural customs.
Toilet-themed venues, where the function of toilets blends into a venue to bring it some character. This concept is where you can see restaurants, bars and public venues that use toilets as their focal catch.
This would include the chain Modern Toilet Restaurants in Southeast Asia, the Poop Café in Toronto (CA), or Attendant in London (UK – it used to be a public toilet!). Here, toilet fixtures and designs are front and centre for the décor of the places.
Museums about toilets, where you learn about toilets in some fashion – and we’re including poof, too! These museums either have buildings or are mobile (such as walking tours) and talk about the history or quirky aspects of toilets, or just display a whole ton of toilet paraphernalia as artwork.
Out there, you can go to these museums and actively learn about toilets in different ways. Examples include the mobile London Loo Tours and stationary National Poo Museum (UK), Sulabh International Museum of Toilets (IN), and Barney Smith’s Toilet Seat Art Museum in Dallas (US).
When we say tourism is everything this is what we mean.
Have a nice toilet trip!