Right, let's dive straight in, like a kangaroo into a puddle, shall we? Now, we all appreciate taking a nice long holiday, don’t we? A chance to take a break, shake off the pressures of everyday life, and probably send over dozens of beach and sunset shots to the envy of our Instagram followers. However, there is a darker side to all this. Beyond selfies at the Sydney Opera House and laughter-filled nights at the bar, there lurks a villain, detrimental to our beloved society - and that, my friends, is irresponsible tourism.
Speaking first-hand experience here - years ago, I was lounging on a beach in the Great Barrier Reef. It was an idyllic sight - until I saw throngs of tourists rush past me towards the coral, sunscreen slathered generously over their bodies. I watched, my heart sinking faster than a lead balloon, as bits of precious coral were broken off by curious, ignorant or downright disrespectful hands. Multiply this scenario worldwide, and you've got a nasty problem. It's not just about the physical destruction either. Pollution from the increased transport and accommodation facilities made available for tourists severely affects the environment.
Changing gears, let's talk about those places that are rich in distinct culture and history - the ones that make you go "G'day, I've never seen the likes of this before!". Ironically, these are the ones that fall victim to commercialisation for the sake of tourism. In many parts of the world, local culture is being altered, diluted or replaced to appeal to tourists. People are turning their homes into hotels, and their traditions into performances. Now that's what I call the kangaroo losing its bounce!
You might be thinking, "Sebastian, but think of all the jobs created through tourism!". I'll give you that point, but remember, the majority of these jobs are seasonal and poorly paid. Plus, much of the revenue goes to big corporations rather than to the locals, resulting in wealth leaking away from the destination country. It's a bit like hoping to hatch a platypus from a chicken's egg!
Ever been to a buzzing tourist destination, only to realise there's more camera flashes bouncing around than actual ways to enjoy the place? That's over-tourism for you. Places worldwide are experiencing hordes of tourists, leading to a decline in the quality of life for the local population. Imagine trying to do your weekly groceries past armies of snap-happy tourists. Not exactly a walk in the park, is it?
When a place starts drawing crowds, the first thing to shoot up are the prices. From rents, house prices to simple commodities - everything costs more. Residents are often forced to move out due to the unaffordable cost of living. Honestly, it's like suddenly being told to pay for your favourite freckles chocolate, marked up by 500% - rather sobering, isn't it?
To wrap things up, I'd like to touch on the impact of tourism on our furry friends - and by that, I don't just mean Oreo, my golden retriever, who literally suffers from an influx of pats and treats every time we have guests over. Masses of tourists can disrupt the behavioural patterns and natural habitats of wildlife, paving the way for vulnerability and extinction.
So what do we do now that we've pulled the dark cloud of tourism out from under the bright, alluring sunshine? I believe, each of our travel footprints should spark joy not just for us, but for the place and people we visit. As always, travel responsibly, leave only footprints, and Oreo reminds you - if you're visiting, don't forget his favourite biscuits, please!