Archive | June, 2012

Support Indigenous People’s Week & the Celebration of Indigenous Tourism – 6-9th August

This post is an unsolicited plug for the upcoming Indigenous Tourism Week’s Celebration of Indigenous Tourism organised by the tireless, energetic and utterly committed Ron Mader. Ron has assembled a wealth of information and connections on this topic as you can see from his Slideshare presentation and Media Release that I have reproduced below:

Planeta.com, Nutti Sámi Siida, Guurrbi Tours, TIME Unlimited and Nevada
Magazine co-host Indigenous Peoples Week August 6-12, our second annual
celebration of social media storytelling about indigenous peoples and
tourism around the world.

This online unconference is free and everyone’s invited. The objective is
two-fold: to raise awareness of indigenous tourism options around the world
and to improve digital literacy skills among indigenous tourism providers
themselves.

Our circle of conversation includes indigenous and non-indigenous peoples
around the world. Complete details are online the Planeta Wiki
http://planeta.wikispaces.com/indigenousweek

Be Engaged: How to participate

Learn social media by using social media: Blogs, Delicious, Facebook,
Flickr, Foodspotting, Foursquare, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest, Slideshare,
Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia – to learn and share info about indigenous
culture.

Delicious: Follow the Indigenous Peoples Week Stack and suggest a link
http://www.delicious.com/stacks/view/PbAVa1

Facebook: Introduce yourself or ask a question on the event page
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=149162135168077

Flickr: Create an account an upload a few photos of your work. There are a
number of relevant groups. One of our favorites is the World Crafts Group —
http://www.flickr.com/groups/worldcrafts — and another fave is the World
Parks Group — http://www.flickr.com/groups/worldparks

Foodspotting: Please share photos of indigenous foods available for visitors

Slideshare: Favorite the overview presentation —
http://www.slideshare.net/planeta/indigenousweek2012 — and seek out or
create a new presentation about indigenous culture

Twitter: Tweet about indigenous culture and please tweet about the event.
Please use the hashtag #ipw2012

YouTube: Videos please! Record your own video and introduce yourself and
your interest in indigenous tourism. You can also curate a playlist to
document indigenous culture and traditional knowledge. Example:
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2ABC87B99B4ADE1F

Wikipedia: Read or edit information about indigenous culture

** Promotion on Planeta.com‘s World Travel Directory **

Planeta.com is offering a special bonus and VIP status to businesses in
our World Travel Directory <http://planeta.com/worldtravel.html>  which
feature indigenous culture. We’ll extend the directory listing free for one
month for businesses actively participating in Indigenous Peoples Week.
Tour guides and companies not in the directory but which would like to
support this event, may apply for a new listing.
<http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/goodidea> .

Empowering Conscious Travellers – a sequel

Back in October, 2011, I was thrilled to meet two enterprising and energetic young men, Eytan & Marco Bollinger,  of Iseeitravel whose mission had become to empower conscious travellers to act responsibly and to encourage destinations to think twice before succumbing to development pressures.

Given the mounting evidence that congestion and over or too rapid development can be as destructive as mineral extraction or deforestation – see last post “12000 words on tourism’s capacity to destroy” – young, emerging destinations should look to the work of these guys and  I’m delighted to celebrate their progress and dedication since my October  post. Their web site is www.iseeitravel.org and I urge my followers and supporters to put your weight behind Marco and Eytan and back their first major project.

iSeeiTravel is a media company dedicated to promoting conscious travel. Eytan and Marco  produce brand-building documentary content based on real places, real people, and real travel experiences.

Their first major project, called 2.5%, is designed to help protect one of Costa Rica’s last standing areas of pristine rainforest on the Pacific Coast of Latin America – The Osa Peninsua, home to 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity and  50% of Costa Rica’s native species. The National Geographic have called the region “the most biologically intense place on earth”

Residents there have experienced both the good and the bad of tourism. Thirty years ago, an area to the north of the country – Guanacaste – looked a lot like Osa does now but 30 years of ever expanding, intensifying tourism development have changed that and not for the benefit of local residents. Here’s a short video clip that Iseeitravel  made to highlight the problems caused by unconscious, uncaring tourism development that is nearly always promoted by developers who then leave the area or airlines and international hotel companies whose owners often live miles away.

Iseeitravel are raising funds to create a compelling documentary that presents a case for developing Osa as a conscious travel destination and you can support them today by visiting their fund raising project here 

As discussed in my presentation to the Samoan tourism industry last month, there’s another tsunami coming in the Southern hemisphere and that is the explosion of outbound tourism from the emerging economies of Asia and South America. Destinations in the path of this tsunami of demand need to wake up and prepare for these changes now. They can choose, as Bhutan did a few years ago to stem the inbound tide and sustain a quality of experience, or they can surrender to external pressures and, at best, limit their future options or, worst, forfeit the chance to develop livelihoods that, in addition to being environmentally and financially sustainable, generate long term net benefits to the host community of today and tomorrow.

Time is of the essence – my conscious friends have just 19 days to raise another $18000 to support their project.

So please,” help build a community of travellers who care” and make a small donation here and spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, Google + or your choice of social media network.

12000 words* on tourism’s capacity to destroy!

600 climbers try ascend Mount Everest at the same time! Source: Rex

One of the themes of my writing on Conscious Travel is that mass industrial tourism contains the seeds of its own destruction. When travel becomes a right in the consumer’s mind and suppliers compete on the price of their products not the uniqueness of their places, then they must develop volume to make up for their diminishing margins. But this trend is creating a very big headache for future destination managers.

Even though 1 billion international trips were made in 2012, a very large number of people has yet to to travel. The number of attractive parts of the planet – often called tourism “hot spots” is, on the other hand,  finite. When the coming tsunami of tourism demand reaches the shores of limited tourism supply, the effects will be as illustrated in these 12 images published in the Guardian last month.

 * a picture’s power to communicate is supposedly equivalent to a thousand words!

I wrote this post from the island of Upolu in Samoa where a small but proud nation of Polynesians – the greatest navigators of all time – celebrated achievement of their independence from colonial rule some 50 years ago. As the celebrations proved, their culture has survived so-called “progress” and modernity remarkably well:

  • 7 Vaka Moana sailed into Apia’s harbour crewed by over 150 young Polynesians now re-learning skills of wayfinding practised for centuries by their ancestors – for more information on this exciting initiative, do please visit www.pacificvoyagers.org;
  • over 1000  men and one woman have just spent the past 6 weeks “in camp” training for one of the fiercely contested sporting titles of the year – to become winner of the annual 5 mile Fautasi competition ( a race that makes the Oxford Cambridge boat race look like a picnic);
  • another few hundred youngsters competed in the annual fire dance competition (Sivaafi) demonstrating impressive powers of concentration, dexterity, fitness and creativity;
  • hundreds of proud men and women displayed their traditional “tatau”  to the visiting dignatories in the annual “march past”,
  • the small population (some 180,000) supported five days filled with continuous cultural celebrations (dancing, singing, oratory, marching) which was live streamed to the diaspora of Samoans located throughout the globe and on Sunday
  • thousands congregated in churches of every denomination to sing in the most beautiful harmony before spending family time enjoying a traditional sunday feast prepared and cooked according to tradition and practices that are over 3000 years old.
Seven Vaka cruising outside Apia's harbour

Seven Vaka cruising outside Apia’s harbour

Sadly tourism to these precious islands is currently under performing and, as a consequence, the island’s defences for the tourism tsunami are weak (for some more background on the challenges, please see a presentation given to the tourism industry in Apia last month here). But the hotels are all independently owned and Samoa’s international visitors can enjoy an authentic experience of a vibrant. living Polynesian culture whose roots stretch back some 3000 years.

If Samoa is to avoid Bali’s plight and become nothing but a playground for the spoiled middle classes of Australia, New Zealand and now Asia it will need the same vision, clarity, confidence and determination that created its proud nationhood. The best way for the tourism community to celebrate its independence is to commit to avoid being swamped by the greed and selfishness associated with unchecked tourism demand. Samoa has the potential to reap the benefits of becoming a “conscious travel destination” but not unless a critical mass of its hosts see the value in that and work together to create a better and more resilient future.

Samoa’s remoteness (relatively speaking) combined with its robust culture (85% of land is customary) have afforded the opportunity to develop tourism in a way that maximises benefit to its citizens. Samoa, like Bhutan, could lead by becoming a Conscious Travel Destination – in whatever way they choose to define and express that. Let’s hope the temptation to grab short-term cash won’t prove too strong and its leaders will exercise the vision of their forefathers.

For more see: Samoa Tourism At A Fork in the Road


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