Tourism started sustainability?

Written by contributing author, Joanna Ouellette
I started my career in tourism and quickly understood the pull of foreign climates and exotic cultures.  It wasn’t until I stepped out of my own comfort zone that I became truly aware of the beauty of the world’s natural resources and unique environments, which helped to define rich and colorful cultures.  I learned that people around the planet are living sustainably, taking care of their land, their communities, their resources and their consumption for no other reason than that is how their ancestors lived, and they want to pass it along to future generations.
I learned how dependent local populations are on their fragile ecosystems and their depleting natural resources. And now thanks to the tourism dollar, these cultures are  trying to emulate the western lifestyle of conspicuous consumption, for future generations to deal with at their peril.
In the West, we take so much for granted, and unless we work on a farm or spend our days outdoors, we are totally removed from living in a small footprint and in tune with our environment.   In fact, it seems that we have to fight and work hard to “achieve” a small footprint.  We have to make concessions and difficult choices, usually paying more for the pleasure of doing so.  We have to find our passion, while some people have to find food.
It’s not until we travel to a place outside our own that we get a new perspective.   There are always going to be contradictions with tourism and sustainability (cruise ship to the Galapagos, anyone?), but I am forever thankful that I have had the opportunities to visit new places and gain a new perspective of life and sustainability on Terra Blu.  So how do we really learn how to live with less? Go and watch the experts, but choose your vehicle sustainably.

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