It's the Environment, Stupid.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Eco-tourism - a sham?

There's an interesting article from Alternet this morning, "There's No Such Thing as Eco-Tourism." While it isn't a scathing commentary on what I considered eco-tourists to be - those travellers who go out in search of the backwoods, eco-friendly, faux-preservation, minimalist vacations - it's more of a scathing commentary on American travellers who think travelling to so-called impoverished nations is an adventure or novelty, made popular by reality television and celebrities a-la Angelina Jolie. Oh, and air travel is bad for the whole global warming thing.

The author comes across as a little (okay, A LOT) bitter, and has chosen never to travel again, effectively taking herself "out of the game." It's worth a read, especially if you've done any travelling to said "third world" countries.

I do agree somewhat with a few of the points she makes, but I don't think we (as Americans) should stop learning about other cultures, and other ways of life. In our globalized economy and increasingly media savvy world, it makes it difficult for us NOT to make an impression or leave our imprint on places we (western society) visit, either personally or via the marketplace. If anything I think Americans should get out in the world MORE - although not to enjoy McDonalds and Starbucks, but to truly experience other societies and cultures without trying to conform or judge them. Besides, how else can we truly see how our footprint extends across the globe until we can actually see it for ourselves?

2 Comments:

  • We just returned from a honeymoon in Mexico where we took a couple of "eco-tours." I knew that the tours would be silly, and they were. But even though there were parts of the tours specifically geared towards the "oh my god I am so awesome because I took a zip-line through the jungle" crowd, there were also some really incredible places that were both inspiring and educational.

    I think that eco-tourism (and travel in general) has a long way to go to become truly eco-friendly. But in the meantime there are a few organizations that do a good job of being stewards of the local environments and communities. They will probably do an even better job once their potential clients become better stewards themsselves.

    By Anonymous Heidi, at 18:59  

  • The only true Eco-Tourists are those who stay home.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 16:07  

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