Green destinations experts from six continents will gather this September in Cascais, Lisbon, Portugal to share new approaches to tourism that seek to avoid mass tourism becoming increasingly intrusive and disruptive to local communities.
The Global Green Destinations Event (GGDE17) takes place on September 29th in Portugal convenes global experts and destination leaders planning for tourism that is beneficial to local communities and their environment and local culture. These include the newly chosen Top 100 Sustainable Destinations, that all provide showcases of responsible tourism. Among the participants are destination leaders from Azores, Botswana, Canada, Slovenia and Gozo (Malta), Australia, Los Angeles, Iceland, and Taiwan, and many more.
According to organisers, the fact that 2017 is the UN-declared Year of Sustainable Tourism 2017 provides an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of fifty years of mass tourism. Since 1947 tourism has taken advantage of tax-free fuel, and has managed to remain exempted from paying for their major contribution to climate change. This partly explains the continuous 4% annual growth, from just 150 million in 1967 to an amazing 1.3 billion international arrivals this year, says Albert Salman, President of Green Destinations. “As long as carriers escape from carbon emission compensation, mass tourism will remain unsustainable,” he says, adding that the cruise industry, cheap carriers and social media hypes have generated massive shareholder value while bringing crisis to the sector.
Furthermore, adds Salman, the industry has pushed off-limit city breaks, obsessive bucket-listing “Top 10 places to see” and now suggest that visitors can “live like locals”- without the responsibilities that locals bear, while booking platforms like Airbnb and Booking.com increasingly take whole apartments off the local market for tourist’s use. In this way, he claims, the industry has channelled 99% of international tourists to less than 1% of the world’s destinations – wrecking the local chaos that has hit today’s world headlines.
“Tourists are told to live like a local in many cities, but in fact many rich expats are illegally staying there instead of a local,” adds Salman. “This trend became very clear this year, and it is very dangerous, even in traditionally tourism-friendly cities like Lisbon.”