1: Cancún’s mangroves are destroyed. Community protest may save them
Just a month ago, if you passed by Tajamar in Cancún, Mexico you would have seen 57 hectares of thriving mangrove forest lining the coast. Today, only stumps remain.
For years, hundreds of citizens worked to protect the Tajamar mangroves, one last swathe of wetlands in tourist-dominated Cancún.
But in the middle of the night on 16 January, developers hoping to build a new resort – ‘Malecón Tajamar’ – made their move. Under cover of darkness, they tore down the mangroves.
Local authorities allowed this destruction despite evidence that those promoting the resort had provided highly irregular information – even denying the mangroves were there at all.
Ultimately, the battle between these profit-driven developers and the local community came down to one question:
After their destruction became public knowledge, thousands of people across Mexico stood with the community protesters in outrage. And their voices made a huge impact.
In response to a case brought to court by Greenpeace Mexico and ally organisations, a judge has ordered a moratorium on all work for the Tajamar project.
2: Cruise lines pull out of Faroe Islands following animal rights campaign
Two cruise companies – AIDA and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises – have agreed to stop visiting the Faroe Islands in response to an ongoing campaign by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Forum and the Sea Shepherd.
The animal rights groups have been protesting against the islands for their annual mass killing of whales in a practice known as the Grind. During the Grind, a flotilla of small boats herds whales or dolphins into a shallow bay where they can be easily killed with knives. According to National Geographic, grinds are the “longest continuously practiced and relatively unchanged whaling tradition in the world” and many islanders strongly assert their right to continue the practice without outside interference.
According to Cruise Law News, however, the campaign will now focus on persuading TUI to stop sending vessels there.
3: Developing sustainable tourism in Korea – interview with Dr. Mihee Kang
Dr. Mihee Kang is a research professor at Seoul National University, researching topics related to protected areas management and sustainable tourism. Recently she co-founded Playforest, a cooperative of sustainable travel businesses designed to benefit local communities and local activists dedicated to the conservation of their forests and to provide genuine community-based natural tourism experiences to the visitors.
Since 2002 she has worked on introducing and developing the Korean ecotourism certification program. She was in charge of developing the Korean criteria and has been taking the lead at implementing the certification program. She has also been leading the revision of the different set of ecotourism criteria based on GSTC criteria and have led the development of the Korean Sustainable City Tourism Standard which got GSTC-recognition in August 2016. She serves as the GSTC Country Representative for South Korea. She spoke with Anula Galewska about efforts to develop sustainable tourism in Korea.
4: Interviews with Tourism Social Entrepreneurs: Ayana Journeys
This is the first in our new series of interviews with social entrepreneurs working in tourism. Amy Mcloughlin is co-founder of Ayana Journeys, a small responsible travel company based in Cambodia that shares immersive, educational experiences with culturally curious travellers.
“For example, we deliver spiritual tourism offerings such as our pioneering Buddhism tour across Cambodia. Through this experience guests not only learn about the teachings of Buddha, but also gain an understanding of its role on culture and everyday life, as well as Buddhism contributions to social activism and healing from war.”
5: Under the Radar: Tourism in Sri Lanka at risk from military
Sri Lanka has been seeking to boost its economy following the end of its civil war in 2009, with tourism being a key growth sector. The island nation is witnessing an impressive tourist boom, with foreign investors eyeing the country as a promising growth market. Despite these trends, tourism in Sri Lanka faces serious risks. Specifically, the country’s tourism industry is being dominated by the armed forces, which run a plethora of businesses, generating income for the defence department while keeping hundreds of thousands of troops in the north.
In response the UN exhorted Sri Lanka on October 20th to take immediate steps to strengthen Sri Lankan collective identity, as well as to reduce the role of the military in the private sector, including the return of occupied lands.
Sri Lanka is seeking to attract foreign investors for its tourism sector, with Thailand’s Dusit Thani already setting up shop in the country. The government is offering appealing incentives including guaranteed six percent return for five years, paid out quarterly in U.S dollars, freehold titles for owners, capital gains potential of around 30%, and cheap development land. Hotel chains in turn are lobbying the government to relax visa rules to facilitate longer visits. Despite these incentives, investors need to be aware of existing risks.
6: Biggest annual environmental award goes to tourism activists
Each year the Goldman Prize honours grassroots activists working to preserve the environment around the world. It has, of occasion, been won by people using responsible tourism in this way. Back in 1993, Margaret Jacobsohn and Garth Owen-Smith won for their work in Namibia helping remote rural communities to link social and economic development to the conservation of the region’s spectacular wildlife and other natural resources.
Nine years later, in 2002, Jadwiga Lopata from Poland was awarded the Prize for creating an ecotourism program that promotes the environmental, economic and health advantages of small family farms over large-scale factory agriculture.
In 2006, Ignace Schops from Belgium won for his role in setting up the country’s first national park, Hoge Kempen, whose 6,000 hectares welcome tens of thousands of visitors every year, providing hundreds of local jobs. According to the Goldman prize website, “one of the most beloved attractions at Hoge Kempen is the barefoot trail, which invites walkers to reconnect with nature by trekking through puddles, mud, dirt and grass with only their bare feet.”
This year, however, the two prize winners whose campaigns are connected to tourism are being recognised less for their work utilising the industry’s potential, and more for their efforts to resist its threats.