One effect of globalization is tourism. In the past people spent their holidays in the nearest areas but nowadays fast communications are causing an authentic revolution of tourism. Everybody wants to travel to the remotest places, not only in their own country but also around the world. But how does mass tourism affect the countries and local people? Is it possible to reach a perfect balance between mass tourism and environmental conservation or do we need to promote ecotourism. Is it as sustainable as it is said?
If we have a look to the poorest countries which receive thousands of tourists from all over the world, we’ll discover that most of the local people work in the tourist industry but this does not seem to improve their way of life, in fact they are working like slaves for the big tour operators and hotel chains. The money spent by the tourists in those countries hardly ever profits native people. And moreover the massive building of hotels is negatively affecting the environment, destroying the rainforest, polluting the soil and water and killing the native fauna. Even the coral reefs are increasingly disappearing by careless scuba-diving, snorkeling, cruises and speed outboard navigation.
And this occurs both in developed countries and in the poorer countries which are imitating the bad ways of the richer ones. You should only compare most touristic locations around the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribean or the Pacific. You will see everywhere a long line of high buildings running next to the seashore and main beaches. However in some tourist countries buildings are smaller, frequently built with local materials and scattered in resorts mixed with gardens and trees. But even if this is the case hundreds of tourist are there, so you can´t forget the negative impact on the environment.
Lastly some people worried about conservation are claiming a different kind of tourism, the eco-tourism. Tourism that can support indigenous population and tribes by letting them show their ancient environmental knowledge. In the end they have preserved nature so far in the remote areas where they live. The idea is good but people want to spend their holidays on this places and at the same time they are not prepared to forego the facilities of five or four star hotels. Even the natives, observing the tourists’ wishes and way of life, are starting to copy the same bad manners, losing, in many cases, their own culture. Market rules.
Finally I think real eco tourism is not possible, except perhaps just for an authentic adventurer, . The solution could be a mixture of traditional tourism (not mass tourism) but letting the local people take part in the decisions which affect them and their environment, and of course, good tourism policies from the governments taking into account that you can’t get a profit from everything and everywhere. We will have to promote ecotourism by protecting special areas (like natural or national parks) organizing sustainable tours. Costa Rica, which has many National Parks and a big part of its country protected, is the best example, although despite the Government´s care about this issue, lately ecologists are claim ing that the environment is being damaged there too.