Tourism?! Ethical?! Why?!

We hear much about the right to leisure time, right to holidays, right to travel. Never the less, apart from the one consisting in being in compliance with local authority, there are no formal travel obligation. Would travel be a freedom to experience without constraints? Tourism responsibility can be approached in various ways: personal, social, economical and environmental. What would be the basis to such a responsibility?

We can first consider the humanist approach to ethical travel. Travel is the meeting of mankind, a group scattered over the planet. Far away, we are now face to face. Facing what we have in common: a world, a culture, and interests. We also face our differences: worlds, cultures and interests. At once, we fell like we belong to this world, belong to human kind. As we experience this freedom to move about and visit the planet, we feel responsible for each other. We sometimes interpret our differences as anomalies, as a need to be fulfilled. Thus we would like to be able to help those coming towards us, to contribute to their welfare. Sustain this world endlessly opening us its arms.

Is that too much cheese on your platter? Ok let’s be pragmatic and consider sectorial sources to ethical travel. Like every other activity in the beginning of millennium, Tourism can undertake an impact assessment. And hiding in a green costume is out of question! Theories of sustainable development stand on solid grounds. They make all the more sense when it comes to tourism: trade of the world, nature and cultures. A reasonable management of tourism would enable amelioration of the experience and the bearing of the sector. Monuments and landscapes saw threw centuries, millenniums and sometimes hundreds of thousands of years, thus tourism could sustain for many years to come. On the condition that the industry ensures world’s longevity along with its wonders’.

All the more since tourism, representing “9% of the world economy*”, “is about to become a planetary stake*” . It exploits hosting regions’ capital, and provokes a double effect of folklorization and homogenization of cultures. Furthermore, Tourism is a direct threat to the environment. In 2012, tourisme passed the bar of 1 billion international arrivals, itaccounts for 5% of the world’s total greenhouse effect gas emissions. Tourism also has an impact on hosting regions due to its development and the ever growing tourist attendance.

This is where humanism meets pragmatism.  It is quite ironical that the activity consisting in enjoying the beauty nd pleasures of the world and culture actively contributes to its extermination. Could we put at end to the negative impact of tourism? For ourselves, our ancestors, our contemporaries, or for future generations. This statement can be made for all branches of the economy, but Tourism is the sole industry that customers visit as they enjoy the products. They can thus observe production conditions, witness the effects of globalization. Tourism could become an example for us to understand what our societies and human development brought the world to. Visitors seeking authenticity  and simplicity are a public display of insatisfaction and regret fueled my modernity. Further more, hosting regions could help undertand what destructions, level of pauverty and inquality globalization provoqued. Tourism could help understand the necessity to rethink our organisation and functionning at a planteray level.

Easier said than done! Don’t you think? Never the less, step by step, tourism can go a long way.

Dissatisfaction and exasperation resulting from Tourism mediocrity is the least ground for tourism ethics to emerge. How often can we hear stories of strikes or even violent actions led against tourists? How often do you read about this swamp, that mountain, this desert or that sea line being at stake because of tourism development? How often do we read about poor employment conditions in tourism agencies or tourism resorts? How, with its 260 million employees, can tourism remain a syndicate free sector? How often do we hear prejudice against tourists? Against people in tourism regions being money driven only? The recurrent abuses of tourism caused to travelers, people and the patrimony made it popular under the name of a predator industry. Too often did tourism mislead tourists, and the inhabitants, exploit employees and resources, creating frustration and animosity. These abuses may lead the public to act for the sector’s reconfiguration.

Such a change can’t be immediate. There are challenges to face and we still need to understand what and how can tourism make a difference. What about you? What do you think could be the reasons for tourism to change for the better?

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