Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the UNWTO, suggests that the more we travel, the better the world will be. Tourism brings international understanding, cultural exchange and tolerance. It protects the environment for its own sake. To make this a reality, the UNWTO wants to work with governments and NGOs to promote the implementation of sustainable tourism.
Small-small, versus bigger and bigger
Among the actors who have really made a lasting contribution to sustainable tourism are the Protestant Development Service (www.ekd.de/tourismwatch.html), the Study Group for Tourism and Development (www.studienkreis.org) and the Swiss Working Group on Tourism and Development (www.akte.ch).
They negotiate about human rights in tourism, they ask the crucial questions: How should travel become more sustainable with ever increasing numbers of flights? How can the local population benefit from tourism in the long term without becoming dependent on this sector? How can profits from tourism flow back into local structures? How should the population be involved in decision-making processes?
More plastic than fish in the sea and beaches are sinking with climate change – yet 80 percent of tourist destinations are by the sea
The annual TO-DO! award of the Studienkreis fur Tourismus went this year to Myanmar, Southern Shan State – the project of a village community (www.cit-paoregion.com) – and to Kibale Association for rural and environmental development in Uganda (www.bigodi-tourism.org) – a project that aims to upgrade the swamps in northern Uganda to a tourist attraction. Small versus big and ever bigger: At the world’s largest tourism trade fair, such accolades are lost.
Do we need an eco-dictatorship?
The British trade union Unite received an award for human rights. It fights for better working conditions in the low-paying tourism industry, 70 percent of whose London employees have a migrant background and little security. (www.unitetheunion.org). Awards ceremonies can raise the profile and cause of a project. It is just a pity that the award ceremony was staged in such a dry and joyless way, as if sustainable tourism were a punishment.
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ) was also out and about at the fair on tourism issues. Among other things, with a discussion on the impact of booming cruise tourism with 26 million passengers worldwide. Cruising is becoming a "haven of safety" in uncertain times. Martina von Munchhausen, tourism expert at WWF Germany, presented a study on cruise tourism in the Caribbean: destroyed coral reefs, a huge energy footprint, insufficient waste dumping, dumping prices in local value creation on land, wastewater entering the sea.
More plastic than fish in the sea and beaches going under with climate change – yet 80 percent of destinations are by the sea. That could change. Faster, higher, further was actually yesterday. At a discussion on "Tourism in the Anthropocene," the focus was on what could stop the disinhibited party. Apart from the term "eco-dictatorship," no other noteworthy solutions came up.