VENICE IS SINKING – not under the waves, but under the weight of over-tourism.
Barcelona is having to limit the number of visitors who can stroll her streets, sit in her cafés and gaze at Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Mexico has long since banned tourists from clambering up the sides of ancient temples in sacred sites like Chichen Itza and Tulum. As I write this, the glaciers are disappearing, the Amazon rain forest is ablaze and the world is scrambling to find a way to stop the melt and douse the flames. It seems we humans have a great deal to answer for.
In our eagerness to explore, to experience, and to embrace all that the globe has to offer, we’re overburdening – even destroying – the very places we love most. It’s a terrifying prospect but one that has to be faced head-on if we’re ever to stop and reverse the damage we’ve done. This very special issue of Cruise & Travel Lifestyles is taking a look at the many parts of the world where action is being taken to prevent over-tourism, to protect precious wildlife and environments and preserve the cultural differences that make us who we are. Positive action can and is being taken – we believe it will be the salvation of our world. And we want to be a part of that effort.
Sometimes, what’s needed is a bit of creative thinking. Take, for example, the ‘green hunting’ companies in parts of Africa that have found a way to manage hunters keen to bag big game. Working with animal reserves, the green hunting companies connect the hunters with tracking guides – and veterinarians working on game reserves. Together, they ‘hunt’ an animal that’s in need of care such as a vaccination or perhaps some minor surgery that requires sedation. The hunter enjoys the excitement of stalking his ‘prey’, and the guide is well-paid for his expertise in finding the animal and setting up the ‘kill’. The animal is shot with a tranquilizer gun, the hunter takes his photos and then – this is my favourite element of the program – assists the vet with the procedure, gaining a new appreciation for the wildlife that might otherwise have been killed.
It’s a win/win plan and just one example of the ways in which we can be better global stewards. The bad news is that we’ve made mistakes, but the good news is that we can make changes to protect the riches all around us before it’s too late. We don’t have to stop travelling – we simply have to find ways to make our trips have a more positive impact on our world. I hope this issue inspires you to join the fight to save our planet.
Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Fall/Winter 2019 issue.