Third World Resurgence – tourism issue

3WR coverThe September / October 2015 issue of Third World Resurgence magazine, published by the Third World Network, is a double issue with a special focus on tourism. The digital edition of the magazine is now available as a pdf file.

The tourism section of the magazine is introduced with an in-depth article by Anita Pleumarom, coordinator of the Bangkok based Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team (tim-team) and member of the Tourism Advocacy and Action Forum (TAAF) and includes the following articles:
  • Tourism – a driver of inequality and displacement – Anita Pleumarom
  • Tourism and the biosphere crisis: Provisions for inter-generational care – Alison M Johnston
  • Rise of the aerotropolis – Rose Bridger
  • Tourism for women’s rights? – Albertina Almeida
  • Maasai fight eviction from Tanzanian community land by US-based ecotourism company – Susanna Nordlund
  • The puputan struggle against the Benoa Bay reclamation project – Anton Muhajir
  • Tourism, the extractive industry and social conflict in Peru – Rodrigo Ruiz Rubio
  • Tourism and the consumption of Goa – Claude Alvares
  • The occidentalisation of the Everest – Vaishna Roy
  • The getthoisation of Palestine – tourism as a tool of oppression and resistance – Freya Higgins-Desbiolles
  • The bitter irony of ‘1 billion tourists – 1 billion opportunities’

The magazine critiques the assumption that expansion of the tourism industry is an economic panacea for poor countries – a passport to eradicating poverty, providing livelihoods for poor and marginalised communities. Massive expansion of tourism is championed by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which also proclaims broader social benefits of preserving cultural heritage and protection of precious ecosystems and biodiversity.

Yet research of the impact of tourism, over many decades, refutes these purported miraculous benefits. Only a minimal proportion of tourists’ expenditure remains in the host community. Most of the profits are siphoned off by transnational firms – tourism operators, airlines and hotel chains. Megatourism projects supported by governments follow neoliberal diktats of privatization, deregulation and financial liberalization, all of which benefit big business.

In spite of the wealth of evidence that tourism has a very poor record of lifting people out of poverty, vast amounts of aid funding – from foreign governments, international and multilateral aid agencies – is spent on luxury tourism facilities such as five star hotels, in the midst of impoverished communities lacking even basic housing and amenities. And, instead of protecting cultural heritage and ecosystems, mega tourism complexes – such as integrated resorts combining hotels and entertainment facilities like casinos, marinas for supersized yachts and islands devoted entirely to tourism that require large scale land reclamation – destroy vast swaths of these precious assets.

A proliferation of tourist developments that are supposedly ‘eco’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘pro-poor’ fails to live up to these self-adopted labels. In the main such projects are still controlled by big business. Crucially,  international tourism’s supposed sustainability and environmental credentials are seriously and fundamentally undermined by heavy dependence on highly carbon intensive aviation. This dependence is deepening with the widespread planning and construction of aerotropolis projects, highlighted as epitomising the ‘mindless, destructive development engendered by tourism’.

Global travel and tourism growth continues. The sector is forecast to grow by more than 3.5% in 2015, a growth rate over 1% higher than global GDP.

Check out the Tourism Critic Facebook page for regular updates about the negative impacts of unsustainable tourism on society and the natural environment, particularly in developing countries. Tourism Critic aims to mobilize people, groups and networks to help reshape debates around tourism in favour of narratives supporting human rights, social, ecological and climate justice, and equitable, sustainable development. For more information on the negative impacts of tourism growth in Southeast Asia and southern China see the Southeast Asia Tourism Monitor (sea-tm) bi-monthly newsletter.