93% of corals have been impacted by abnormally warm waters. Coral bleaching has spread around the globe, devastating reef mortality and resulting in a sense of urgency amongst some tourists. A feeling of ‘I have to get there before its too late!’ is sweeping across many travellers. This has created a form of tourism that I have come to loathe the most, ‘last-chance Tourism’. It suggests a feeling of hopelessness, that we are too late and nothing can be done. Conservation soon gets replaced by an acceptance of demise and we extract as much as we can before it disappears. This needs to change and fast!
The warning signs have been around for a very long time. Responsible Travel has been campaigning for its closure for years, Born Free and other NGO’s have been screaming out to people to stop going. There are even films on YouTube showing tigers being hit so what went wrong, why did it stay open for so long? Why are we all surprised that 40 dead cubs were found in the freezer when the National Geographic linked it to a black market trade? Continue reading
So SeaWorld is pushing to create a more ‘naturalistic’ setting for their orcas. Big celebrations all round! Seemed like good news at first right? But something seems a little fishy, SeaWorld’s business model is as about as unnatural as bubble-gum flavour! So what is happening and why?
What a month and half its been for wildlife conservation! But it seems things are now starting to calm down giving us all some time to catch our breath, brush ourselves down and reflect on recent events. Since Cecil the Lion’s death the media have had a field day and long shall it last! The more publicity this story gets the larger the audiences conservation will be attracted. It’s a welcome step away from the economy and towards subjects that really matter. However, over the past month, an uncomfortable concern has been growing on how beneficial the media really is, especially in relation to its impacts. This time of calm is a good opportunity to revisit the case of Cecil, look back over the medias role and perhaps reinvigorate the hunting argument.
Yesterday I woke up to a whole barrage of tweets, emails and news reports on Carnival Cruises new venture into Cuba. It was a huge hand to head moment, how could I have missed it! Of course, Fathom was merely a ploy to open the back door into Cuba. By taking advantage of the Cuban visa loop-hole, people-to-people holidays, Carnival Cruises has been able to enter the holy grail of American destinations.
As the doors have been ‘supposedly’ flung open and the Americans are welcomed with open arms tourists have been falling over themselves to get there before ‘its too late’! However, Americans still face the difficulty of finding the right key to enter, if they have it at all! Heavy sanctions still apply to American citizens and it can still be very complicated to acquire a visa as seen here. But, as Carnivals massive cruise ship sails through a tiny visa loophole mine and many others hearts will sink to the bottom of the ocean.
I think it’s fair to say that large ship cruises are currently one of the undisputed champions of irresponsible tourism. This made it even more surprising when Carnival Corporation announced last week that they are stepping down from the podiums top spot and entering the world of responsible tourism. I had to double check it wasn’t April 1st before I believed it. At first, I was pleased, perhaps they have finally given in to the long list of campaigns and criticisms to become more responsible! However, when a company that was voted 3rd in the top ten corporate criminals list just last year suddenly decides to become the next powerhouse for ‘sustained and long-lasting positive impact’, alarm bells started ringing and concerns start to bubble up.
However, I have previously suggested that perhaps it’s time to work with the irresponsible companies to improve their approaches to tourism rather than fighting them. Nobody can deny that if cruises were responsible they would be a huge force for good. Unfortunately, cruises will always be popular and will not disappear. Therefore, it should be music to my ears when I hear Carnival suggest they ‘harness the assets and resources of the world’s largest travel and leisure company and combine them with the talents and hearts of those working in social enterprises around the world’. In this blog, I have decided to delve into their press release with an open mind and give them a chance to see how they are stepping into responsible tourism.
I am still unsure whether holiday companies have grasped the idea that responsible tourism is essential if they are going to keep their heads above the water. Profitability is always the best way to convince holiday companies that responsible tourism is a sensible addition to their products. For example, it provides a competitive advantage and is making its way into holiday itineraries. However, responsible tourism isn’t essential for business but rather an additional cost or a bit of a pain (so much so that many pay other companies to increase their responsible tourism credentials through tokenistic schemes like carbon offsetting) and it is also a lot of extra work for little return. So how do we make responsible travel indispensable?