Tourism – the joys and sorrows

A brief sketch. Imagine an idyllic island of some 30 thousand people. Beautiful and accessible, sandy beaches and calm, turqoise seas. Infrastructure and services, adequate to good.

Then one day, a hotel of 100 rooms on the beach that generates employment and income, both directly and indirectly. In some cases the hotelier would enjoy some tax and other concession. The tourists, mainly western, over the tourist season, say three months, now represent an increase in demand for, say, electricity (and for air condition), water, food that satisfies specific criteria, waste disposal and transportation. A consequence of that increase in demand would be a rise in prices for the local population of an economy beneficiary of the rise in income (and taxes).

Then one day another destination is ‘declared’ more attractive. And we imagine ourselves local.

With that we can look at the challenge faced by another idyllic location, but where water is a precious and very scarce commodity, the Atacama desert, Tourism starting to bleed the Lickan Antay people of the Atacama desert dry

The Lickan Antay situate their villages around oases. The key to their survival is the management of water. Manuel Silvestre Gómez, in his 40s, proudly wears his national reserve guard uniform. He loves to talk about his roots.’

Here we learn to appreciate the unintended and even damaging consequences of tourism in such a landscape, fascinatingly beautiful as the photos show.

The lesson is applicable to not only ‘developing’ economies – as this recent. little noted, case from RT illustrates, Vacationing Moroccan king drains water supply from villages outside Paris

The residents of some villages near Paris, chosen as a place of recreation for the King of Morocco, are far from amused. The monarch, who brought up to 300 people with him, has drained their water supplies.

King Mohamed VI apparently loves pompous holidays – for his French vacations in the small village of Betz he brought a whole entourage of 300 people. Betz, some 40km from the French capital, has a population of around 1,000.

The vacationers who arrived August 24 drained all the water resources of a small village in a single day, according to French media. The water was necessary not only for consumption, but for keeping the garden and watering horses in the king’s huge castle (or, perhaps, oasis).

Here we have the extreme of that influx of tourists for whom water conservation is an utterly alien notion, especially others’ precious water supply. And Paris then seems to lack the prompt responsiveness to rectify the crisis for the locals. Again, we imagine ourselves locals.

Somehow tourism policy in such cases seems to focus more on revenue streams than on economic and environmental costs, and ongoing quality of life of citizens.

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