‘Tourism - celebrating diversity' - the theme chosen by the UN World Tourism Organisation for the 2009 World Tourism Day - raises many questions, says the Ecumenical Coalition on Tourism (ECOT) in a statement issued on the occasion. Tourism enables visitors to be exposed to the riches of this planet, and this can be seen as ‘celebrating diversity'.
However, ECOT believes that the 2009 World Tourism Day, which this year marks its 30th anniversary, draws attention to the more positive side of tourism, while ignoring some troubling dimensions. These include the standardisation of tourism facilities and even destinations, ‘demonstration effects' of tourism which tempt younger generations, staged 'authenticity', with dying traditions being staged to entertain tourists and attract their dollars. Globalised tourism thus contributes to the homogenisation of cultures. Rather than being its "natural ally" tourism can also destroy biodiversity, especially if long haul travel is involved, contributing to climate change, and if a heavy human presence is involved. To respect and celebrate diversity, the ethos of Community-based tourism (CBT) is best suited.
(179 words, 15 lines, September 2009)