Making the World a Better Place by Going on a Holiday

Tourism, we all know, is the world’s fastest growing industry and a significant economic force. Given this, we believe it should carry with its dizzying growth statistics, an equally staggering responsibility. We believe it is time tourism globally stopped making self-congratulatory statements and reflected more soberly and perhaps sombrely on its actual track record. The discussions on sustainability and responsibility on tourism can be traced to the late 1970’s, when the World Bank and UNESCO co-organised a seminar to discuss the social and cultural impacts of tourism on developing countries and examine whether its benefits outweighed its costs. The fact that 30 years on, in this conference, we talk about the need for building awareness about responsibility in tourism probably points to lack of willingness rather than a lack of awareness among policy makers and the industry to engage with this fundamental issue. Therefore, we wonder if this “new idea” of responsible tourism is in some way a Freudian slip – an acknowledgment that tourism has been rather irresponsible thus far. A pointer perhaps is that tourism is closely linked to 5 of the Vatican’s recent list of 7 more deadly sins for modern times – polluting, being obscenely rich, paedophilia, drug dealing and causing social injustice. This is indeed illuminating – either about tourism being very modern or very sinful or both!