“Travel makes one modest. You will see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustav Flaubert
Tourism is an $8 Trillion industry that just keeps expanding subject to the spending power of the people. As the barrier of entry gets lower for wanderlusts over the world, a market is rising up – a consumer based one. Tourist spots aren’t the sacred, pristine postcard-esque you know of anymore, but a cesspool of crowds and trash.
Tourism spots provide some of the most over-priced commodities for visitors – an item that would cost the local but a fraction is priced to nearly 200% of its original value for visitors
The Craze for Tourism
Advertising in itself is an air-tight industry that is worth $1.2 Trillion. Out of it, nearly $80 Billion goes towards travel and tourism. Advertising for tourism has become a big deal as countries like The Maldives and The British Virgin Islands rely on it for as much as 40% their GDP.
With the global air traffic passenger demand rising by a factor of 5% every year, more and more people are investing greater and greater amounts in tourism than ever before. This has sparked a tourism trend of sorts. The Influencers that you follow on Instagram are knee deep in tourism-ad money. They sell the destination as a fashion choice, rather than a place of natural tranquility. This goes a long way in obscuring the purpose of the destination in the first place.
The most visible impact of tourism is quite on the nose. Pollution is becoming a nuisance over at major tourist destinations. There is a comprehensive waste management system at some of the famous destinations, but for a majority of locations, it is an afterthought.
More than 70,000 Tonnes worth of garbage is produced every year in the Caribbean Islands alone
This is a problem for the environment and the locals alike. A lot of times the cleaning staff is given a tremendous amount of work for very little amounts of money. These folks are overwhelmingly residents of the small villages in and around the destination (the government is barely involved in cleaning, instead outsourcing to the localities). As for the tourists, they come empty handed and leave in the same manner.
Items like one-use garments, packaging wrappers, water bottles and newspapers are some of the most common types of waste found in lying around. There is no strict policing over littering as it would incur a bad rep for the tourist hub. This is a concern voiced by nearly every country, bar none.
Destruction of Native Sanctity
The biggest flaw in design for tourism is that tourists who don’t care for the culture, just the allure of the destination, are forced into a temporary compromise. They come for the scenic locations that provide the best backdrops for pictures, but reaching there involves a tryst with the local culture.
This can have amusing results, but in the long run, is a tragic alliance. The tourists don’t seem to care for the local culture or traditions. Sacred sites of worship are being trampled upon without much intervention from the local government. The noise pollution is reported to have a negative effect on the surrounding animal life. A lot of the times, natives claim the tourists blatantly disregard customs and values of the locals – a lot of cultures have Gods that are nature based. Sacred lakes have been littered, holy forests have been pillaged and pious land has been degenerated by the tourists.
The True Cost of Mass Tourism
The countries which come out as the best tourist spots are generally untouched – by man or media. Publicizing these spots on Instagram and Facebook as unconquered lands brings out the worst aspects of human history. Man just wants to go where no other has gone before. The fact that no land is being left untouched is a travesty.
Civilizations who were contended with their local resources, are being pushed into the cycle of money through mass tourism. The governments of these countries will start marketing their own country as a virgin, unexplored territory for all, which leads to tourism being used as a crutch. Countries like Cuba and the Bahamas don’t have a stable economic spine to rely on, instead relying almost exclusively on their tourism sector.
The moment these places start being passé for the maddening crowd, their economy is bound to collapse into depression. Countries like Papua and New Guinea, who have had no use for global currency equivalence less than a century ago, are being pushed into the GDP rat race due the huge strain on their Tourism sector.
Mass Tourism has become a bad word nowadays, and rightfully so. Lives are being ruined and the environment is being damaged. The dignity of cultures is being tarnished. There is a way out, but it requires global attitudes to change. Travel should be about living the location; whatever happened to “When in Rome…”? Also, tourists should be mindful – of the waste they’re generating and the culture they’re trampling.