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DW: Tourism and globalization – Are backpackers destroying the planet?

18/05/2019

From insider tip to mass tourism. What harm can vacationers cause and what can they do better?

From Bolivia’s rainforests to the deserts around Timbuktu in Mali and the Himalayan empire of Bhutan, the question always arises: what huge effects has tourism had on culture, the economy and the environment in the last 30 years?

The relationship between people seeking adventure off the beaten track and countries hoping for secure sources of income is complex. Native peoples and landscapes have been changed by tourism forever. The documentary by US director Pegi Vail tells how the fine balance of respect for sacred places, valuable nature and cultural identity can be achieved on the one hand – and the traveller’s hunger for new experiences on the other. “It’s time for a rethink,” Vail says. She doesn’t want to demonize travel itself, she just wants to improve it. “Travel is still one of the most important ways for us to get to know each other anywhere in the world.” But because more and more people want it and can also afford it, solutions are needed to protect places from the destructive effects of mass tourism. “Travel is important,” says the film, “but please do it right!”

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