Nothing is that black and white and I guess most of us have been tourists at some time or other and never given much thought to......... if we had a right to visit where ever? My question came about because I scanned a story in the newspaper, it was reporting that a polar bear had been shot in Arctic Norway. It was shot because it had attacked the tourist guide leading a group from a cruise ship. There was no choice but to shoot the poor thing, it had the guide's head in its mouth at the time. My internal dialogue was saying ok, well can't be too many cruise ships up there and then started thinking about something else. A few days later there was a photo of the small town in the far north of Norway, where these cruise ships make a stop. The ship was huge totally out of scale to the small quayside, it must treble the population when one stops there, Then I read there are two ships each week sometimes three. Plus the company have two more being built. So that would make five ships calling if not a few more per week in peak season. I'll chance a modest guess and say each ship could carry -1000- and it could be much more. Looking at the town, I guess no more than -3000-pop. I've no doubt that local business is enjoying the extra trade, more jobs for local people yadda yadda da. But even with my make-believe numbers, a season from mid-May to mid-September 12 weeks x 5000 per week, that is a lot of people in a relatively pristine ecosystem, already under stress......remember hungry polar bear. Remember we are all hosts to foreign bacteria, viruses and think of the waste, garbage and all of that.
Today I see, much further south in Norway, a photo of a man standing totally naked as a cruise ship slips past his home, which is clinging to the mountainside that walls in the fiord. He is doing this in protest of the tourist stream invading his privacy. The people of Venice are at breaking point with endless tourists, I own up I was one once. This is not the only Italian town that feels overwhelmed. I have looked at pictures of the Sistine Chapel ceiling all my life, went to see it with a couple of hundred other people! They were all chatting and jostling, if I tilted my head back to look at the ceiling I found it in the middle of an alien chest or on someone's shoulder. Was it the emotional wow experience I was expecting? No, I could not wait to get out. Graffiti has appeared in Spain, telling tourists to go home. How Spain puts up with all those tourists who visit just to be as drunk as quickly as possible, for as long as possible on cheap alcohol or drugs I don't know. Think of the demand for their police and medical services. Yes, but they are selling tonnes of alcohol and drugs someone will say, except many of the sellers are foreigners. Just 50 years ago while living in Kenya, I visited the Ngorongoro Crater, we were out of season and there were no people around. The huge crater was full of wildlife, I truly felt I was in the Garden of Eden, it was an absolute privilege to have seen it so. I recently saw a travel film of this place, three large people carries where watching a group of sleepy post-dinner lions, another couple of jeeps in the distance. There were so many visits to an island of penguins in the Antarctic that the penguins just upped and left. Scientists left wondering why they were gone, died or what? They had moved to another island, discovered by a survey ship a year or two later.I guess they were fed up with the selfies and all the intrusion from visitors.
Oscar Wilde, in his poem of ......The Ballad of Reading Gaol..... says, "All men kill the thing they love".It was in a totally different context but using the "men' as mankind or humankind if you prefer. I think this is true of tourists. We want to see, to have been there, to feel, to smell it. Yet our very going, walking around the place, using it, is, in fact, destroying that which we seek. Does each and every one of us have the right to do this? Do we have the right to fundamentally change the place and the life of the people there?
I'm fully aware that some places have nothing else but tourism to make some kind of GNP. Tourism is important to most national economies. I don't want to deprive anyone of employment and a good living. although there is another ugly thing that is possible in tourism and that is the exploitation of both the host and the guest. Then there is the carbon footprint of travel, the use of scarce water in some places.
In the future do you think we will have travel rationed? Quotes restricting numbers to a place at any one time? Will we be issued with so many pleasure travel miles per person? Will there be a 'black market' where you could sell unused travel permits? Or will there be advanced virtual reality centres, you will attend a travel centre and somehow be provided with a range of stimuli. Sight, hearing, temperature, smell, feeling, atmosphere, music, taste. Produce and things to buy? All this without traveling away from your own country. It is your day off, you will be able to go for a sail round in the Aegean Sea, stop off for a dinner in a waterside Greek cafe, even get a tan and back to sleep in your own bed that night ready for work tomorrow!? Or post Christmas, visit the Rockies for half a days skiing? Any thoughts on this people?Recommend0 recommendations