Photo: Water ritual of the Indigenous people of Tremembe, who are defending their territory from a tourist complex. Credit: Erbene Verissimo Rosa, TAAF
By: The Tourism Alert and Action Forum (TAAF)
During the COVID-19 lock down, we have heard reports of how once over-touristed places have been able to reclaim their streets and enjoy their cities free of hordes of tourists. Wealthy European cities such as Venice have endured a harsh pandemic, but the communities also seem able to notice and appreciate that lockdown has freed them of tourists so that they can for a brief moment once again enjoy their home and its beauty.
Simultaneously, places that have been placed in very vulnerable positions of tourism dependency are suffering since the tourists no longer come, leading to joblessness and hunger. We see in places as varied as Hawai’i, Bali, Nepal and Peru that a most damaging form of tourism has been forced on them, taking precious land, water, culture and spirituality and shaping these into gated resorts, privatised beaches, endless junk souvenir shops, yoga retreats and sham ceremonies.
We recognise both the pain and the opportunity that this crisis brings us.
We offer a nine-point plan to reset tourism:
Communities around the world have seen the negative consequences of tourism developments, processes and policies that only work to serve the needs of the tourism industry and compliant governments.
We must now join together and work to resist what we do not want but also to proactively create that which we do want.
The global protests that have ignited in response to the Black Lives Matter campaign show us that people are ready to stand up against exploitation and oppression. It is time we act against unjust forms of tourism and this plan is offered as an agenda for focus.
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The Tourism Alert and Action Forum is a group formed by activists to advocate human rights, justice, equity and sustainable tourism. The purpose of the TAAF is to: advocate and act for human-centred tourism policies and developments; champion community rights; ensure children women and vulnerable groups are not harmed by tourism; support Indigenous rights in tourism; promote justice tourism and solidarity forms of tourism.