Right now, there are 1 billion tourist arrivals in the world every year. By 2020, it will increase by 60%. The truth is, travelling the way we do right has horrific impacts on our environment and our communities.
The tourism market becomes more saturated every day, so changing the way we travel is a ticking time bomb.
Read on to learn more about the environmental and social impacts of travel.
So why does ethical travel matter?
Because it has the power to change the world.
How? Think about it for a second.
Daily, we see so many issues come to light in our world. We see it on the news, or on Facebook, and we care. But we don't care enough to do something.
Unfortunately, that is just human nature. We can't care deeply if we don't resonate or relate. It's impossible. This is called the Empathy Gap (see an example below).
So how do we resonate or relate? We need an experience that bridges the gap for us.
Final question, I promise! Where can that experience come from?
Travel! Our experiences are powerful. When we connect personally with different cultures and their issues, we have more leverage to do good and speak up.
If we have the experience and knowledge, we have the empathy and power to do big things. With these assets, we have the power to create big fat ripples of change.
Example time- the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015 bought the world to a standstill. Only hours before, Beirut was rocked by a double suicide bombing. Like clockwork, Western media-saturated social media and networks with reports on Paris, Facebook encouraged everyone to upload a temporary profile picture to stand in solidarity with Paris, etc etc.
This is the interesting part though- rarely do such large scale attacks line up so ‘neatly’- it offered a very interesting and clear comparison to the way society reacts.
There are a lot of intertwined elements to explain our reactions- Paris is ‘relatable’. Either you’ve been there or someone you know has, you’ve seen the Eiffel Tower in movies, and of course, it’s western society. It’s familiar on a tribal level as well- people don’t respond as well if they can't see themselves as the victims.
Lebanon, on the other hand, lies behind the stigma of the Middle East. It doesn’t seem ‘surprising’ to hear of destruction from that part of the world- when in actuality, that’s somewhat of an outdated impression of Lebanon.
There’s also the influence of the media- the media relies heavily on consumer demand.
Automatically, because we relate more, we ‘care’ more about the attacks in Paris. It’s not a conscious thing- and it’s not a matter of favouring one over the other (not for most people anyway).- it’s our indulgence in it. I am an extremely empathic person- I care deeply about the horrific situations happening outside of the West and did not consciously think one atrocity trumped the other- however I couldn’t get enough of the Paris attacks. It was everywhere, I had studied in France- so I related more.