September 27th, 2014 has been proclaimed World Tourism Day by the United Nations. The idea behind this designation is that it will raise awareness of the positive impact of tourism and hopefully increase the interest in sustainable tourism.
Travel can remove many prejudices – and reinforce some if truth be told – yet three-quarters of all travellers are going to all-inclusive resorts and very little of their money goes into the local economy. These travellers only experience a sanitised version of the country they’re in and if truth be told they could be anywhere in the tropics – palm trees, the sun, and sand look remarkably similar in many parts of the world.
The United Nations estimates that for every 100 dollars spent by tourists, only five dollars stays in the local economy. Evidence of this can be seen by anyone who is in a town when a cruise ship visits. Almost all the passengers either go duty-free shopping or visit the turtle farm/blue grotto/railway. Either their money goes to the shop-owners or the cruise company.
Sustainable tourism is about local jobs and local people and benefitting the local economy, not lining the pockets of already wealthy people.
I read about World Tourism Day in the local Metro ‘newspaper’. The story dominating the page was in effect an advertorial for a golf resort in Georgia, USA. How ironic.