Since I mostly blog about what I do and experience while I travel and it’s usually positive, I have not really put much attention to some negative sides of it. This time I don’t want to talk about how my bag got stolen or anything like that but about tourist behavior.
Traveling has become largely accessible and available also to people with lower income. You can see how many planes are flying at this very moment all over the world HERE. All this shows that tourism has a huge impact on the environment, economy and the people. Sometimes I stumble upon tourists doing something really ignorant that has a negative effect on either the local community, nature or something else. I am not perfect either. Have made some mistakes in the past and learned the truth behind different tourism aspects only later. There is so much information available now on how to travel responsibly. Yet many people still ignore it. Thus, I am going to share some stories of what I have witnessed or what really grinds my gears.
Trashing the last rainforest
When I was in Thailand, I visited the only rainforest left in Phuket. It was not really big and one single path leads you to a small but nice waterfall. I noticed two friends visiting, who had some chips and soft drinks on their hands following the road. We passed them and did not see them anymore. When we arrived at the waterfall, our view was ruined because some men had climbed near it, sitting on a rock and smoking cigarettes and throwing the buds in the water. Sigh. Since we could not really enjoy the view we started to head back. On our way back I found the plastic soda cups and empty bags of chips thrown into the bushes. The stupid part is that there are so many trash cans along the path. I became so mad I cleaned it up myself.
Helping monkeys develop diabetes
Another story from Thailand. I went on a Krabi island cruise that made stops on all the beautiful islands. On one of them, a slightly obese monkey was freely sitting and chilling on the beach. People were, of course, excited and wanted to feed him. There was so much fruit around and even the cruise included a free meal with bananas, but one lovely family decided to buy multiple snickers bars and just fed the monkey with that instead. Bananas are a lot cheaper and healthier, while nearly half of the snickers bar just contains sugar and is not really good for humans either. If someone does not think it’s unhealthy it’s still more expensive for your pocket to feed the monkey with chocolate. Can’t see the logic. Cartoons already teach us that monkeys eat bananas…
Made in China
During my studies, I worked in a souvenir shop for a very long time. Time passed and suddenly every piece of souvenir became obnoxious. And it’s all thanks to China (no offense Chinese). I think it’s safe to say that most people buy souvenirs during their trips. Due to this, souvenirs have to be produced massively, as cheap and as fast as possible. They are all litter, in my opinion, that break easily and you may as well just throw your money in the trash.
Sadly so many people support this and help greedy big organizations make money. Instead, it would be better to seek out some local shops where locals make authentic and original things themselves. My teacher once suggested buying postcards or paintings from an artist in Morocco, who does not have arms or legs and paints with his mouth. I bought a small, painted postcard and because who made it adds so much more value to it.
Feeding turtles with cigarets
I really hate cigarets. Because everybody around the smoke has to suffer from it and it’s highly pollutive. It’s not really “my body, my health, my problem”, it’s actually a problem for everybody. I guess because nobody sees the immediate damage it does and not every single person gets cancer from it, it is still so popular. Luckily, it’s not allowed everywhere anymore like it used to.
So, in Greece, I visited a wonderful turtle lake. The water was a beautiful mix of green and blue, very clear and clean. We rented a paddle boat to go see the turtles who live there. The cute turtles were very curious and were swimming towards you. Then I noticed a small group of people on another boat where a man was smoking a cigarette and of course he threw it into the water after he finished it. A fire started to burn inside me and I was thinking what the hell is going on in people’s minds. Are you really not able to enjoy a beautiful place and can’t even wait half an hour before you smoke a cigarette?
All in all
There are countless of other problems and I feel like I could go on and on until I have written an entire book. Using animals as tourism products or floating lantern festivals, just to name a few. I really love traveling. There are so many beautiful places on earth, why destroy them? On the bright side, more people are becoming aware of these facts and are demanding for sustainable and green travel. But how to educate people who don’t want to educate themselves on responsible travel?