The sheer mass of tourists seen during my trip to Malta has been a shock to me. It actually shouldn't have been one as it certainly wasn't my first experience of mass tourism. I have been to Florence. To Venice. I have visited Angkor Wat in Cambodia (and those of you who have been there recently know what I am talking about!!). Malta though got to me more than all the other places. It's maybe because I had visited 20 years ago, when mass tourism didn't yet exist. Or maybe I have changed, become more conscious of what's going on around me. I don't know.
The last couple of months though I read several articles on tourism. The bad side of tourism, if I can call it this way. This one published in the NY Times for instance:
What an article! It made me sad and mad. At the same time I was shocked.
What have we become? Is this the kind of tourist we wanna be? Really???
It can't possibly be the way forward.
I am no tourist like it's described in the article. I try to respect the locals and the treasures I visit (art, sites etc.). I don't leave trash behind. Try not to shower often (as an example) in a country that does have water issues. I use one set of towels the whole time I am in a hotel - same goes for the bed linen. I try to buy local souvenirs, eat local food. I try to move around by taking buses and trains and do a lot of walking.
I treat the locals the way I want to be treated by the tourists that visit my country.
Obviously I am not perfect. It's a work in progress. It's a process of becoming more and more conscious of my doings!
I think though that this whole mass tourism thing will become more and more important. Towns, countries will want changes - will impose changes (mentioned in the article). And the tourists themselves will have to adapt. Will have to become more conscious of their acts. Of their behavior.
I believe that's important if we want future generations to be able to visit places all around the globe!