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[For an audio version of this blog story click here.]

Sustainable tourism. Measured by how most travel to a tourist spot — saying nothing of where they stay, what they do and eat — and using carbon neutral as the measure, the term sustainable tourism is really an oxymoron.

Is sustainable tourism an oxymoron?

Is sustainable tourism practically unachievable? (Click here for info on the photo.)

Like many concepts — or labels, if you will — it can, all the same, make both buyer and seller feel good about themselves. ‘Oh this is sustainable, we’re actually boosting biodiversity.’ (Eh, sorry, but simply by your very existence as another human being you’re most likely a net negative for the planet.)

Walk the walk
It’s similar to those e-scooter users who seem to think that this mode of transport is particularly green, thus they’re doing wonders for the environment. Try walking or using a standard push-bike, guys.

Indeed, if we all had to use our own energy to get to where we want to go, then we would be closer to something more sustainable, in carbon footprint terms in any case. (How we fuel our bodies would also play its part, of course.)

Tourism as we know it would effectively cease to exist in such a scenario, as would many other industries. This may please some save-the-planet activists, although they might just realise that the way the world currently operates gives them many comforts without which life becomes quite a struggle. They’d quickly see how much they’ve benefitted from these comforts.

“It’s not only about environmental concerns that there is the expression, ‘tourism’s greatest cancer is tourism.'”

The rather unrealistic radicals aside, there are those of us who are concerned about many of humanity’s harmful habits yet understand that we can’t just stop all polluting practices forthwith and expect utopia to follow.

At a tourism trade expo in Bogotá recently, Colombian President Gustavo Petro spoke about the industry’s negative impact, stating how it currently operates is unsustainable. Nonetheless, he also acknowledged that it wasn’t going to disappear anytime soon. (Although, he only went as far as referring to its short- to medium-term future. In fairness, looking too far ahead is generally a futile exercise, for politician and layperson alike.)

Planet puppets
Thus, we must continue to strive to engage in the most environmentally friendly tourism and travel available. For some in the comfortable classes, many of whom talk a great biodiversity game but don’t necessarily play it very well, this may mean travelling less often, particularly in aeroplanes.

Some tourism hotspots would be doing themselves a favour, perhaps not economically in the short term but for their longer-term prospects in general, in reducing visitor numbers.

It’s not only about environmental concerns that there is the expression, ‘tourism’s greatest cancer is tourism.’ I don’t know too many people who enjoy going to places that are constantly crowded with visitors. Less can indeed be more in this context.

As with all the great potentially existential crises we face as a species, the hope is that we find the most sustainable, environmentally beneficial way of going about our business.

Of course, while some may think otherwise, we are but puppets on this planet. We shall succumb to it and the universe at large, not the other way around.

Be that as it may, we can at least try to be less self-absorbed as we expend the energy that makes up our current physical form.
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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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  1. Hoy hablemos de turismo - Wopi.es la Comunidad paradisiaca

    […] En el artículo «Tourism cancer», el autor cuestiona la viabilidad del turismo sostenible debido a las emisiones de carbono que genera el transporte a los destinos turísticos. Argumenta que términos como «turismo sostenible» son a menudo engañosos y que las prácticas actuales de turismo masivo no son sostenibles a largo plazo. Sugiere que una reducción en la frecuencia de los viajes y el uso de formas más ecológicas de transporte podría ser más beneficioso para el medio ambiente​ (Blogs El Tiempo)​. […]

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