Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to Professor Tom Baum of University of Strathclyde, our selfish desire to visit distant places has created a neo-colonial dependence, an implicit obligation to continue to take care of the economies of tourist hotspots after climate activists restrict global air travel.
Climate change and air travel: why we have a responsibility to countries dependent on tourism
July 23, 2019 2.23am AEST
Tom Baum Professor of Work, Employment and Organisation, University of Strathclyde
Few would deny the threat to our planet posed by climate change, or the role that humans have played in the degradation of the natural environment. These arguments have been highlighted by Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish activist whose single-minded determination forced the powers of Europe to pay attention.
Tourism and tradition
Research has not as yet addressed the implications of no fly for these developing countries, and such analysis will be a useful contribution to this debate. But if we no longer travel as much because of our commitment to the environment, what are the consequences for Phu Quoc and places like the Seychelles, St Lucia and Bali? Might they revert to their traditional way of life if tourism development disappeared?
All are destinations where the traditional economy and culture have been side-lined or destroyed on the promise of tourism’s riches. That promise depended on the transformation of a landscape dominated by agriculture and fishing to a concrete infrastructure that curtails or even obliterates traditional activities. And all depend on air access, investing in infrastructure to accommodate jet loads of tourists at high volume.
What happens, then, when the planes stop coming? Arguably, in time, nature would reclaim the runways and resorts that would be abandoned. But that will take time, if indeed it happens at all. In the meantime, it may be too late to revert to the economies and lifestyles of the past. Many would say this is a price worth paying to save our planet. In other words, without tourists, Phu Quoc and similar destinations could become wastelands with no way back to prosperity. Which might be seen as their problem.
But it’s not that simple. Communities in LDCs and SIDS – or, rather governments on their behalf – were seduced by the promise of prosperity through tourism. There was an implicit commitment from market countries through aid and loans that the planes would keep flying and the tourists keep arriving.
This form of neo-colonial dependence now places an obligation on countries and individual travellers whose demand created these destinations. However well-intentioned the no-fly campaign is, it is challenging from an ethical point of view to abandon these tourism destinations.
…Read more: https://theconversation.com/climate-change-and-air-travel-why-we-have-a-responsibility-to-countries-dependent-on-tourism-120462
There is an obvious solution. Hold more climate conferences. Nobody complains when greens fly to a climate conference, that kind of flying is good for the planet.
Climate scientists seem to require exotic holiday locations like Bangkok, Paris or Rio to properly disseminate their research, so if the number of climate conferences is increased to compensate for the fall in regular tourism, fly in tourist destinations can be assured of continued economic support from rich Westerners.