A Future for Tourism?
Have you ever traveled somewhere considering consciously what impact you had on the the environment and people in the host community? Did you fly, drive, use public transport or hitchhike? What did you consume on your travel and who produced the goods? Who owned the hotel where you stayed?
In recent years in particular, the term “sustainable” and “tourism” have been often paired up together. But here, we are not only discussing booking geo-thermal powered hotels. We must consider the environment and the people living in the host community. For starters, one could pay more attention to the transport used, travelling by train, sharing the car with at least 2 more persons… to fly less and maybe even hitch-hike. Consider investing a bit more money to buy local quality food, that empowers farmers and local vendors in the area to survive. Consider if the geo-thermal hotel that you have booked is owned by an international 5 star company. It is always better to support community-led hotels with local employees as then the host community benefits as well. In Sierra Leone, the amazing story of one such local community-owned hotel that is investing some of the profits in the schools and healthcare system of the village is truly inspirational. By providing sustainable accommodation to tourists, they actually managed to build more housing in the village for the homeless villagers! And instead of staying at a classic Western hotel, why not opt for staying at the villager’s house and go fishing with them? The Internet era allows us to cut commissions, connect with locals offering accommodation and see the world and culture through their eyes. These little changes in our habits are an important step towards caring for the planet, respecting people, nature and animals.
In this activity we will examine the positive and negative effects of tourism and look into how we can travel more sustainably and ethically.
Group / Experiential
To identify issues associated with tourism development
To explore how tourism can be used to contribute to sustainable development and a fairer society
To create a sense of responsibility in the decisions we make as travellers
Required Materials and Tools:
Flip chart paper
Ask participants to think of the last place they traveled to, then ask them to think of some of the benefits of tourism in this particular place. Then ask them to think of some of the costs [Give 5 minutes for this].
Invite the participants to call out their answers and write them on a flip chart under social, cultural, ecological and economic themes so that everyone can see them [For support, refer to Table 1 for examples of benefits and costs of tourism as well as to the resources below under “Resources”. Give 20 minutes for this].
Split the participants into groups of 5 with each member representing one of the following stakeholder groups: local community, local hotels and restaurants, tourists, government, foreign investors.
In the groups, ask the participants to come up with planning strategies for one of the costs or benefits that emerged from the first part of the exercise either to minimize the negative impact or maximise the positive impact. Give the groups a sheet of flip-chart paper to map out their strategy. [Allow 30 minutes for this step].
Ask the groups to present their planning strategies to the wider group [Allow 5 minutes for each group to present, including questions].
What were some of the issues of working with diverse stakeholders in the planning exercise?
How do you think tourism could be used to contribute to sustainable development?
How can you, as a tourist, maximise the positive impact you have when travelling?
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