|In 2019 a city councillor named Gala Pin expressed her disapproval of cruise ship tourism: “It’s a plague of locusts [type of] tourism; they devour the public space and leave.” Ms. Pin’s jurisdiction was the Port of Barcelona, Spain. In 2019, Barcelona saw 3.1 million (MILLION) cruise ships arrive at its docks.
Today, now that tourist season is well underway; there are escalating concerns about the number of cruise ships arriving.
Imagine this happening in your town —
You are walking along your favourite street, enjoying yourself, the day, the weather, and your fellow citizens. Suddenly, a giant mass of people (up to 25,000) meanders toward you. They are loud and boisterous, they leave all kinds of litter and they take tons of pictures of all the architecture on the street. For four or five hours, they wander together. They do not consume anything, don’t buy anything, and don’t duck into a local eatery. They merely take up space on the street, snarl traffic and then are gone.
This happens every single day and is a huge disruption for you and your neighbours who live in your town; it has very little economic impact, and a huge trail of graffiti and destruction remains for you to remove.
One of the side benefits is that you and your fellow citizens have become short of patience. So you are unafraid of matching the tourists’ entitlement with old-fashioned anger. The result, unfortunately, is an escalation of violence in your peaceful little neighbourhood.
This is not just in Barcelona. It is across Europe (with maybe the exception of Ukraine) and is particularly acute in all cities and ports bordering the water. Cruise ships stopping at ports have increased to such an extent that once majestic cities have become nothing more than picture breaks. And the amount of revenue collected from each tourist day tripping has shrunk from a high of around $500 to a low of under $50. A day.
And closer to home
Even here, twenty minutes from Niagara Falls, I see exactly the same thing. People spent a few days in the Falls fifteen or twenty years ago. Ten years ago, people spent five hours in the Falls. Today, even less. Yes, the tourist drop-in rate is increasing, but the locals see a plague of locusts. Every day.
I share this state of affairs because we humans are completely out of touch with our actions. We see excitement, living a grand life of travel and jetting to exotic places. We don’t think about the people who actually live there. Nor do we think about what we are doing to the environment by taking all manner of transportation to fulfill our fantasies.
There are no easy solutions left anymore.
If we are serious about doing our part in leaving the globe in good shape for our kids and grandkids, we gotta get rid of our selfishness and entitlement. And we have a few hard options:
- REWRITE our bucket lists to NOT include travel to exotic locales
- STOP vacationing outside the country in which we live.
- Pay two or three times the current ticket price to fly or to cruise (the additional funds go to fixing the damage we’ve caused to the environment)
- GO VIRTUAL
And if the ports and cities successfully pass legislation, we travellers won’t have an option soon because the number of tourists permitted to enter will be drastically curtailed.
I am not slamming anyone who was born in a country different from where they currently live. By all means, visit your relatives and keep in touch with your family in the country you were born in.
However, far too many of us on the tourist bandwagon do it with very old and very tired thinking. The new thinking is to protect the globe, which means cutting back, stopping or paying a lot more for all vacations outside our country.
Do we really want to be part of the plague of locusts?