View Full Version : Before It Disappears - The Tourism of Doom

12-16-2007, 09:55 PM
Dennis and Stacie Woods, a married couple from Seattle, choose their vacation destinations based on what they fear is fated to destruction.

This month it was a camping and kayaking (http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/kayaking-and-canoeing/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier) trip around the Galápagos Islands. Last year, it was a stay at a remote lodge in the Amazon (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/amazon_inc/index.html?inline=nyt-org), and before that, an ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro.

“We wanted to see the islands this year,” Mr. Woods, a lawyer, said last week in a hotel lobby here, “because we figured they’re only going to get worse.”

The visit to the Amazon was “to try to see it in its natural state before it was turned into a cattle ranch or logged or burned to the ground,” Mr. Woods said. Kilimanjaro was about seeing the sunrise on the highest peak in Africa before the ice cap melts, as some forecasters say it will within the next dozen years.

Next on their list: the Arctic before the ice is gone.

The Woodses are part of a travel trend that Ken Shapiro, the editor in chief of TravelAge West, a magazine for travel agents, calls “the Tourism of Doom.”

“It’s not just about going to an exotic place,” Mr. Shapiro said. “It’s about going someplace they expect will be gone in a generation.”http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/12/16/fashion/16disappear.html

12-17-2007, 07:03 AM
Thanks for posting the article Carrie. I missed seeing it in the Times.

When I read the article, two things came to mind. First, we too went to Alaska a couple of years ago because we are concerned about it not being around as it is now, in 10 or 20 years. I can say that the glaciers we had visited on our first trip to Alaska, about 10 years before, were significantly larger than what we saw this past time, which at the least, gives one great reason to pause.

Earlier this month, we went to the Galapagos. We had been reading about the serious problems facing the Galapagos; non-indigenous species running amok, such as wild goats and Norwegian rats, over-population, and too many tourists who were not environmentally in tune with what is necessary to preserve the Archipelago. Here we have great hope that things have turned around. The goats are virtually eradicated. The Norwegian rat problem is currently being addressed. Over the next 5 years, the population problem of the Archipelago will be significantly reduced as many living in the islands are being sent back to the mainland. Cruise lines and touring companies which are not good citizens are being banned from the islands, and the ban on anyone touring in the islands without a licensed naturalist is being strictly enforced.

Second, a point raised in the article is certainly one we seriously considered. Was our trip to either location going to contribute to the problems of these places on the globe? We believe that our trips were at least neutral.

In Alaska, frankly the ship and land tour was going to exist anyway. By choosing a company which now has environmentally favorable policies (in the past they were fined for violating environmental laws, but have now instituted programs which go way beyond that required by law), seeing the problems and bringing to story home, and monetarily contributing to helping to preserve that environment, through fees, purchases and contributions, we felt our trip to Alaska made sense.

In the Galapagos, we feel we made a positive influence through fees, purchases and contributions, plus the situation there is much different in its causes, and we don't feel we as tourists were part of those causes, due to the way we traveled there.

Visiting places like this does make one appreciate the natural world and its importance to us, and at this point in time I personally think that's very important.