Our planet is being depleted by us; even today came the terrible news that Brazil is going to go ahead with the Belo Monte dam. It will inundate at least 400,000 hectares of forest (1544 square miles); expelling 40,000 indigenous and local populations and destroying habitat valuable for many species. This is after the President has received tens of thousands of letters and emails addressed to her, which were ignored as were the more than 600,000 signatures. Horrendous, and all to generate electricity which, by all accounts, could easily be generated with greater investments in energy efficiency. So, so sad and so easily avoidable.
Hope for the future does spring eternal and there are many people out there who are truly immersing themselves in responsible and sustainable tourism. These are the people who are making things happen, who have gone out on a limb to bring about a new order to how tourism works, not built on the old model of growth, growth, growth, with low costs and huge numbers, but built on a new model of caring about the countries, paying back to the environment and the local population. To experiences that are truly real, that actually give you a taste of the customs and peoples of the country; not in a glitzy, glamorous way but in a traditional and true manner.
The Native Americans had the right idea, their philosophy, their ‘ten commandments’ would have kept this wonderful plant earth in an ever replenishing cycle. They only used what was needed, always paying respect for what they had. Think what a beautiful place America must have been when they were there, before the white man came and plundered and pillaged everything, before the greed for more and more came about. I read a book a long time ago called ‘Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee‘, what an effect that had on me; I was completely and utterly horrified.
Similar things still happen today, man’s greed and lust for power taking over from peace and common sense. How does this relate to travel and tourism? Well, I can name two countries that have not allowed this to happen, that have had respect for their land, their customs and all the interconnectedness ~ with thanks to Shyman33 on Twitter for a new awareness of that.
Have a good look at Bhutan and Samoa. Both countries are very proud of their heritage and indeed, Bhutan has the best philosophy of all. They do not look at gross domestic product or profits and loss, the philosophy for their country is the gross national happiness. How wonderful would it be if all countries did the same. Not enforced happiness but a natural, joyful well being :-) Samoa means the sacred centre of the Polynesian Islands, it is natural, unspoilt and magically beautiful.
Both these countries are at the top of my bucket list ~ I am going to visit them as soon as I possibly can. My perceptions are from what others have told me, from what I have read and from the pictures I have seen. Powerful indeed, is a word-of-mouth recommendation from a person you trust and respect. It’s all about Personal Relationships!
And if you want to follow people who truly believe in responsible and sustainable tourism (and have done so for many years, not like some, who have recently jumped onto the bandwagon!) then please find out more about Anna Pollock and Gopinath Parayil ~ shining lights :-)