When Sustainable Tourism is at Odds with Sustainable Culture
Sometimes, sustainable tourism is a good thing. And sometimes, it’s a mask designed to demonstrate how progressive a country is when that country is in fact, catering to tourists more than to its own longtime culture and the health of its citizens. The latter is exactly what seems to be happening in Bostwana now.
According to the Guardian, Bostwana’s Kalahari Bushmen (a culture literally tens of thousands of years old), after winning a court battle to return to land they had been banished from in order for the government and private companies to expand a game park, are now going back to court to protest the fact that “the government capped a borehole close to their villages and is refusing to reopen it, or to allow companies to be contracted to sink pipes for fresh water sources. Instead they are forced to truck in water from the nearest settlement with a public borehole, 300 miles away.”
Survival International, a British organization, states: “At the same time as denying Bushmen water, the government has drilled new boreholes for wildlife and allowed the opening of a tourist lodge in the reserve, complete with bar and swimming pool.”
Citing the lack of human rights in this water case, Survival International also condemned a decision by the world travel and tourism council to present a prestigious award to the Botswana tourism board for “a programme of sustainable tourism management.” Human rights and sustainable tourism cannot operate in the same area. Sustainable tourism must also include local peoples; if they’re not provided basic rights like water, food, shelter, and jobs, how can any tourism venture claim to be sustainable and responsible?