[Coral-List] Sustainable Tourism!?

Monika Franck monikafranck at email.com
Thu Dec 1 11:58:36 EST 2011

Dear Jeurgen

 You make a good valid point in that most tourism is unsustainable. However sustainability certification of coral reef destinations/exploiters (dive operators/hotels/sports fishing etc) could go a long way in changing that, as public/divers etc. become more "sustainability aware", they have the power to influence impacts through consumer choices and turning the market towards sustainability. Taking this direction and harnassing the power of informed individual consumer choice has great untapped potential in motivating sustainable use of natural resources.

 Flying long distances to "pristine" holiday destinations does little for sustainable use of natural resources, but it can not be held against tourism alone. Successful alternative technology besides burning fossil fuels exists; like the electric car and the water (HHO) engine. However these excellent technologies have been subdued and kept quiet to enable oil corporations and governments too continue making big profits from consumers via old polluting energy and fuel technology. Patents for electric cars have been bought up by wealthy oil corporations and destroyed to enable oil business to continue making high profits from oil. There is an entire award winning documentary film on this : http://www.whokilledtheelectriccar.com/

 Here is a police station converting their vehicles to a hybrid water engine to save fuel consumption:http://youtu.be/MUgUF5M3FTI  This water engine technology given some political will could also be placed in aeroplanes and make a huge contribution toward less polluting global air travel. 

 Non-pulluting energy/fuel technology is there why are people not using it? Why are inventors not given the funding to launch their excellent pollution free technology? Because it's in direct conflict with the huge profits oil corporations make. There is more dirty money and effort behind stopping new non-polluting technology in its tracks, than there is money and support backing clean and low cost energy technology to launch into public consumer use.

 Many third world countries live off tourism, or it makes up a large part of their GNP. Thus discouraging tourists from flying long distances to support them is also not much of a fair solution, but addressing old polluting fossil fuel burning technology which hampers travelling sustainably sounds more feasible, especially since these technologies already exist but are being subdued by wealthy oil corporations chasing profits.

 Sure coral reef ecosystems should not just be preserved for divers who want to see more fish or bigger fish on dives, it belongs just as much to local communities and fishermen who fish it for a living, and they should be compensated (receive a cut of the diver/tourist fee for not fishing a protected area if this is the case). Raising awareness with and compensating local fishermen or marine resource harvesters for not fishing a protected area would go a long way in helping communities to support sustainability efforts too. There are many sustainability stakeholders not just the diving/tourism industry.

 There is some evidence and work in this direction to prove that protecting coral reef and its associated habitats (mangroves, seagrass beds and estuaries) from fishing provides benefits for fishers, because as fish/marine life are allowed to breed up, they spill over and move to unprotected areas where fishers and other exploiters benefit from protected areas too. If you want evidence of this look at the vessel tracking logs of fishing fleets operating near protected areas where fishing is excluded, you will find fishermen tend to fish along the borders of the protected area as they are catching more fish there (I call that a benefit). See also  /Benefits Beyond Boundaries/ by Gell and Roberts 2003: www.panda.org/downloads/marine/benefitsbeyondbound2003.pdf There are other papers on this subject to support that protecting appropriate marine areas from human activity such as fishing/harvesting marine resources has benefits for all users.

 Needed is an internationally recognised indicator/certification system, similar to the 5 star status system of hotels, to enable consumers of coral reef destinations to make informed choices: e.g. pick a hotel that has not cleared coral to create bathing beach and uses solar panels to supplement energy use, over a hotel that only runs generator, and pick dive operators that actively contribute to their sustainable dive sites. 

 Something simple at the user interface, so that when a diver/tourist looks at a dive/holiday destination on a travel agent's website; - tourists/divers can at a glance deduce whether it is a sustainable destination through the certification status destinations have been rated with, through internationally agreed scientific, philosophical and the methodological means necessary.

 If a users/consumers don't know how to tell the difference, or how they are impacting destinations; - they can hardly be expected to make a difference through their actions toward sustainable tourism or consumerism can they?

 best wishes

----- Original Message -----
From: Juergen Herler
Sent: 11/27/11 05:05 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: [Coral-List] Sustainable tourism!?

 Dear listers! I really like some of the ideas, especially that well-managed coral reef destinations should be certified and financially rewarded by visitors. However, the main problem why I believe that tourism cannot contribute much for sustaining ecosystems in general is that tourism in itself is highly unsustainable. If you fly across half the world to spent one or two nice weeks in one of the luxury resorts of the Maldives, which takes an enormous amount of gasoline every day to be run in a comfortable way, how can that ever save their coral reefs in the long term and not do major damage to these and other ecosystems in the world? It of course would be great if tourism would become more 'eco' (based for example on some of the good suggestions in previous posts) but in terms of energy consumption, there is no such thing as 'eco'-tourism. Sustainable holidays will unfortunately only be the ones that are spent in the own garden. But since people will certainly not accept t!
 hat, it is of course good if they 
prefer short- versus long-distance trips and destinations, which perform good conservation and are highly efficient in terms of water and energy consumption, but such destinations are usually expensive and restricted to the more wealthy people, which do not represent the majority of tourists. I have been doing research in the Red Sea of Egypt for more than seven years and this country has experienced a tremendous tourism boom, especially along the Red Sea coast, but unfortunately they receive many tourists which carry little money to Egypt and do not care much about corals reefs at all. The great majority are even not divers and do not like corals (because it hurts when they step on them during swimming). I also doubt that it is is a very humane approach that we preserve ecosystems (especially those of third world countries) because wealthy people from other countries - who can afford to travel there - would like to see them untouched. Very often you meet tourists who wish t!
 hat, for example, fishing is banne
d from reefs so that they can see more fish while diving, but this fish very often feeds the local people (although they very often also do not fish sustainably). This all may apply less to destinations (just for example) like the Caribbean, when visited by US-tourists from the southern USA or to the Great Barrier Reef, visited by eastern Australians, but what I want to say is that it is just not correct to tell people that they do something good for an ecosystem if they travel a long distance to see it, instead of not visiting it, at least as long as tourism is run the way as it currently is (usually starting in pristine areas and degrading those areas quickly). I know this is a dilemma, but Ulf’s suggestion of a sustainability index could be applied to holiday trips also, and tax the travel and service providers according to that would be a necessary thing. So people could not easily shift to cheaper and unsustainable travels or destinations (and there are far too many o!
 f those in the world), if the sust
ainable ones become even more expensive (and some of the previous suggestions would of course cause that). People with less money would probably have to make shorter-distance trips and stay there longer, which for sure would still enable nice holidays. Today, people are 'fined' if they decide for more sustainable holidays. From my point of view, this cannot be the right approach. Best wishes Juergen -- <°))))>< Dr. Juergen Herler Faculty of Life Sciences University of Vienna Althanstraße 14 A-1090 Vienna/Austria/Europe e-mail: Juergen.Herler at univie.ac.at http://homepage.univie.ac.at/juergen.herler _______________________________________________ Coral-List mailing list Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

More information about the Coral-List mailing list