Is it time to put an end to tourism?

Analysis: mass tourism is beginning to reach a stage where the costs to the location far outweigh the benefits

Tourism sells experiences distinct from our daily lives, fulfills dreams, creates lasting memories and allows us to discover our latent talents. We travel for fun, excitement and the opportunity to meet new people. We leave to learn, escape boredom and meet challenges. Travel is all about bucket lists as well as relaxation. Research shows that we want to be entertained and protected.

At best, tourism is synonymous with hospitality. It contributes to the well-being of tourists and provides economic dividends to destination communities, while promoting peace and intercultural understanding. Its antecedents are pilgrimages and town twinning.

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According to RTÉ Archives, Tom MacSweeney reports for RTÉ News on the drop in tourist numbers in Kerry in 1992

At worst, tourism commandeers and privatizes scarce resources and public assets to deliver profits to shareholders of international corporations. Mass tourism, an aggregate of several industries, has a huge carbon footprint and generates massive waste. It is based on speed, fast customer turnover and low price. But low price does not mean low price and the price we pay for tourism and travel will only reflect the true cost of our holidays when externalities such as pollution, biodiversity loss and carbon emissions are taken into account. .

Overtourism has generated a backlash in Europe. Like many similar industries, tourism is entering a phase where the costs outweigh the benefits. The damage it has inflicted on the social and natural worlds is increasingly felt by citizens around the world.

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From RTÉ 2fm’s Dave Fanning Show, Dublin Inquirer’s Sam Tranum and Richard Butler, who researches tourism at the University of Strathclyde, discuss over-tourism in Ireland and Europe

In Barcelona and Venice, anti-tourism protests led local authorities to limit the number of days a residential property can be rented on Airbnb. The “Tourists go home, refugees are welcome” which started in Barcelona raises huge questions that we cannot continue to ignore.

Gated resorts provide very little benefit to local communities while extracting significant value and repatriating profits. Financial investments in planes, ships, resorts and hotels are at risk of becoming stranded assets if deemed unsustainable – which they increasingly are. Niche sustainable offerings, such as ecotourism and voluntourism, have been described as a response to criticism rather than a response to the problem.

The world plan for nature calls for the protection of 30% of the planet from us, with a buffer zone of up to 20%. It is an appropriate response to the ecological emergency and will seriously restrict tourism. In some jurisdictions, businesses have more rights than citizens, but that is changing. In 2017, the Whanganui River in New Zealand and the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in India were each granted the status of living entities. During this time a country TO DO ecocide a crime before the International Penal Court alongside genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression is gaining ground in Europe.

We need less tourism development and more development tourism

In At Dennis O’Rourke’s poignant movie Cannibal visits, a villager from Papua New Guinea comments that tourists only buy her handicrafts and pay to take pictures inside the Spirit House and not while walking around her village. The tourists haggle: a former seller of beautifully crafted woodwork is unhappy that he is asked for a second price and even a third price when he does not get a second price in town. The villagers are well aware of the inequality and disparity of wealth and they cannot visit the homes of wealthy tourists.

The Irish government has yet to recognize a family’s inability to fund a week’s annual domestic leave as a marker of poverty. On the other hand, the International Social Tourism Organization, of which Ireland is not a member, promotes tourism for all while respecting the environment’s ability to cope. It is an expression of solidarity with host communities, a strong preference for fair business practices in global and local economies and which improves the quality of life for tourists.

We need less tourism development and more development tourism. We need to align tourism with UN goals Sustainable Development Goals. They are nothing but a promise to keep. The instantly recognizable image tells the story of a family whose hopes for a life free from hunger and poverty depend on health and well-being, education, gender equality, water drinking water and energy, work, infrastructure, equality, sustainable communities, responsible consumption, climate action, biodiversity in water and on land, thanks to partnership governance.

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From RTÉ Radio 1’s Mooney Goes Wild, Éanna Ní Lamhna visits a new sustainable tourism initiative at Avondale Forest Park in County Wicklow

Critics of neoliberal globalization offer alternative visions of tourism, such as slow tourismwhich follows the slow food and Cittaslow movements. Slow tourism is partly motivated by anti-commercialization and is a desire for enrichment and true relaxation in the context of time poverty. Once measured by sunrise and sunset, time is now commodified. Stress, superficial commitment, loss of control, meaning and even self inspire the urge to slow down.

If we can’t stop tourism, we have to rethink it. Slow ecotourism would merge social and environmental justice. Perhaps we only have to change our minds and identify ourselves as citizens rather than consumers to change our daily living habits and ultimately our lifestyles.


The views expressed here are those of the author and do not represent or reflect the views of RTÉ


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