019_Global12_InFocus_Tourism_5

Global issue 12

Global InsightSustainable Tourism Visitors can give something back People would enjoy their holidays more if they knew no one had been displaced from their land to allow them to view wildlife or that local people weren’t being exploited for their benefit, writesMark Watson G year tourism receipts exceeded $1 trillion for the first time.lobal travel is breaking all records. This year, the numberof international tourists is set to reach one billion, and last As a key development driver in the global South, tourism is the main foreign exchange earner for 65 of 69 developing countries. Tourism is now said to be the biggest industry in the world, and it affects the lives of millions of people worldwide. Tourism can be a force for good and has the potential to generate jobs and create wealth. However, all too often, tourism’s benefits are not of deprivation. Such rights abuses include: forced evictions from homes Credit: © Tourism Concern-- equally shared. In fact, tourism development frequently violates peo ple’s human rights, particularly poor and vulnerable communities in de veloping countries, exacerbating poverty and trapping people in cycles and lands to make way for tourism developments; loss of livelihoods; environmental damage and loss of access to natural resources, such as grazing land, coastal areas and fresh water; exploitation of indigenous peoples; and poor pay and working conditions for tourism employees. Porters are often expected to carry heavy and bulky items in dangerous places Tourism Concern, which campaigns for ethical and fairly traded to reach a well to draw water – while the island’s golf courses use 3 tourism, believes that tourists would enjoy their holiday much more million litres of water every day. if they knew that no one had been displaced from their land to al- New research from Goa, The Gambia and Zanzibar has found that low them to view wildlife, that local people weren’t suffering water in many instances, poorly planned and regulated tourism develop- shortages while they swam in their hotel pool, or that the money they ment, combined with weak water governance, is rapidly depleting and spent benefited local people directly. As ethical tourists, we should polluting groundwater and waterways. Tourism Concern recognises exploit no one, take nothing, and ensure that we give something back that this is a complex issue that demands a coordinated effort by all to the destinations that have hosted our holiday. those involved, and recently published a full set of recommendations. There are many examples of abuses and exploitation commit- A new phenomenon is the rise of ‘slum tourism’ – organised excur- ted in the name of tourism. Porters carrying trekkers’ heavy equip- sions to informal settlements, or ‘slums’. These are sold as an alterna- ment up steep mountain paths in the Himalayas, on the Inca Trail tive to traditional tourism and a more realistic form of experiencing a or on Mount Kilimanjaro, for example, frequently do so without country. Proponents argue that this is a legitimate way to fight poverty, adequate clothing or shoes. When they fall ill with altitude sick- while opponents say it’s exploitative of poor people. Of course, the re- ness or lose fingers and toes from frostbite, their employers often ality is more complex. For example, if the tours are community based, give them little or no medical help. As a result of our campaigns, where negative stereotypes are challenged and local residents have over half of UK trekking tour operators have adopted our code of control over and benefit from tourism activities, then this could bring conduct for improved working conditions for mountain porters. real and lasting benefits to some of the poorest communities. Tourism Indigenous people are regularly exposed to tourism with no pre- Concern is currently undertaking research in Cape Town and the Ro- paredness or education on how to deal with the industry. Tour op- cinhafavela in Rio de Janeiro, the biggest and most visited in Brazil, to erators often include visits to groups considered exotic, which can get local residents’ perspective on this controversial form of tourism. have negative impacts on the communities. We are therefore devel- Tourism Concern also promotes forms of tourism that give something oping an Indigenous Peoples’ Code of Conduct for tour operators back to local people. There is no single model, but the idea is simple: that will provide guidance on the right for indigenous people to tourism that involves and benefits local communities. We are developing decide whether to engage in tourism activities. an online interactive map to help tourists make ethical decisions about One of the most severe effects of tourism development is the tourism by giving them up-to-date information on their destinations. forced displacement of people from their homes. Our campaigning Tourism is a huge global industry. At one end of the holiday efforts have focused on the Maasai and other tribal people of East spectrum are the all-inclusive hotels where holidaymakers stay Africa who were evicted from their land to make way for game behind compound walls and need spend no money locally. At the reserves. Homes were razed to the ground and livestock rounded other end of the spectrum are local people who are developing their up and sold by the government to pay for the evictions. Tourism own opportunities so that they can directly welcome tourists into Concern has held meetings with the tour operators to encourage their communities. At Tourism Concern, we aim to give a voice to them to operate tours in consultation with the Maasai and other local people, campaign against exploitation and help tourists make tribal groups, and to involve them in the business of tourism. informed choices. But it is not just land that the tourist industry can take. Access to water is one of the most fundamental human rights, and yet, in some tourism destinations, local communities struggle to meet their daily Mark Watson is Executive Director of Tourism Concern, www. water needs. For example, in Bali, some villagers have to travel 4 km tourismconcern.org.uk globalfourth quarter 2012 www.global-briefing.org l19


Global issue 12
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