Seems like the word tourism and sustainability do not go well together. But why not?
In the last ten to twenty years something has seriously changed. Tourism became huge trend, and not just for the wealthy but for the people of all ages, backgrounds and income.
Considering that now most people travel once or twice a year, it seems absolutely okay to pamper ourselves while on a vacation. But the problem is that we’re not just one person. Across the globe, nearly 1.3 billion people in total traveled in 2017. That’s nearly 1.3 billion people leaving a carbon footprint through the impact of their cruises, planes and other types of travel. 1.3 billion.
When you think of an overcrowded touristy place, it already loses its spark. Imagine the most delicate beach with smooth, white sand, clear turquoise water, high palm trees and no other people in sight. Breathtaking, right? Now add to it thousands of people. Kids screaming, loud music from the nearest beach bar, surrounded by trash cans. Not so breathtaking anymore, huh?
Now. Imagine what it is like for the locals. Their once small store where they used to buy milk, bread and other groceries now became cheap Chinese souvenir shop. Even walking to work became mission impossible. Just imagine central streets of Venice, Dubrovnik, Barcelona or Paris. Too. Many. People.
It’s safe to say that mass tourism is everyone’s problem. Travellers, local communities and government all have roles to play.
Negative impacts from tourism occur when the number of visitors is greater than the area’s capacity. Tourism development can put pressure on natural resources when it increases consumption in areas where resources are already scarce. From water supplies, local resources, land degradation, air pollution and littering to noise, tourism plays enormous role when it comes to polluting.
Water, and especially fresh water, is one of the most critical resources. Overusing the water in the hotel industry where the showering is already included in the price, so you might as well shower all night is a major problem. Swimming pools, golf courses and personal use by tourists can result in water shortages and degradation of water supplies, as well as creating a greater volume of waste water.
”An average golf course in a tropical country such as Thailand needs 1500kg of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides per year and uses as much water as 60,000 rural villagers.”
Source: Tourism Concern
In areas with high concentration of tourist activities, littering is another problem. Waste disposal (and of course its improper disposal) can be a major despoiler of the natural environment – rivers, roadsides, scenic areas, mountains, oceans… the list goes on.
It is now obvious that tourism can cause the same forms of pollution as any other destructive industry.
IMPACT ON LOCAL PEOPLE AND ANIMALS
And it’s not just the environment we need to worry about. Tourism has massive impact on fragile communities all over the world. For some countries and regions, tourism is now the primary source of foreign exchange and employment, though at the same time, mass tourism is destroying cultural identities. Indigenous people and kids in orphanage can really be exploited and made to feel like a human zoo with tourists shoving cameras in their faces. We are talking Native communities, African tribes, people of Cambodia, Nepal, the list is endless. It’s like we forgot that they too, are people, not just another tourist attraction.
Animal exploitation is by far the worst. It’s not even a secret anymore. From abusive elephant riding attractions, drugged tigers for photos and selfies, chained monkeys in silly clothes trained to dance on the streets, trophy hunting to highly intelligent dolphins that spend their entire lives in a space not much bigger than a swimming pool and are trained to perform and kiss tourists on the cheek. Though people are becoming aware and are slowly waking up, animal exploitation is still the dark side of tourism.
We need progress when it comes to marketing as well. Even though it is small in square mileage, Croatia with its hundreds of beautiful islands and fantastic towns is, in terms of tourism, not a small country. So why is it that 90 per cent of tourists go to Dubrovnik? Clearly there’s a lot of money in the game and big corporations are benefiting the most. But the whole point of traveling should be experience. Not a huge chain hotel. Not a foreign restaurant. But local. Local food and local people. Unspoiled places with tradition still very much in sight, mind and spirit.
But of course travel has a lot of positive impacts. It allows us to connect with people of all nations, to understand and respect each other as human beings. It gives us a greater sense of what’s currently happening in the world and connects us so we can all work together to solve our issues on the global level. That’s why it is so important to raise awareness about these problems and find alternatives so that we can keep traveling in the future.
Where does Huck Finn stand here?
On our tours we take our guests off the beaten path and far away from touristy areas. We don’t find crowded places appealing and believe that scenic, unspoiled parts of Croatia have so much more to offer. We take our guests to the small, family owned restaurants and give them place to sleep in the local family houses. Oftentimes you’ll find us having lunch on one grandma’s terrace in an unknown village, helping with olive harvest on a hilltop farm or buying fresh caught fish from a local fisherman.
Our goal is to give direct profit to the small businesses owned by locals, not huge hotel chains or foreign corporations. You will gain so much more this way, experiencing and tasting true Croatia all while bringing benefit to parts of our country that need help the most.
Sustainability is no longer just a word you’d read in a tree hugging magazine. Now, more than ever, sustainability has become our responsibility. And in Huck Finn we started with our Country.