Tourism vs. Sustainability: Are you ready to join the Transformation?

Jun 6, 2014 by Abraham Meza Lopez

Before being sedentary people, our ancestors used to wander around their world, following the availability of food with the seasons. Food was mainly the objective of this wandering. But as the megafauna became increasingly scarce due to climate change and excessive hunting, humans had to develop new food-finding strategies: agriculture was born. Agriculture meant long hours of work to accumulate excess; excesses opened the doors to bartering, which led to new travel patterns — to trade. In the mountains, shells and salt were valued, and minerals from the highlands were needed in coastal areas. Sedentary life isolated us from having contact with other wanderers of the world, but made cultures diverge into a thousand possibilities. So, as time went on, commerce brought divergent cultures into contact with one another, and travel became a part of our recreational life.

Travel over the millennia has shaped human nature, and today we honor our ancestors with something we call “tourism.” But unlike our ancestors who didn’t exhaust the resources or modify the surrounding environment, today we do. We have doomed the natural environment by adhering to a belief that comfort means “all inclusive,” effectively excluding the environment and local cultures from this luxury model of tourism. Conventional tourism is not intended to conserve the environment or to educate the tourist about that environment.

It seems that most of the travelers nowadays prefer conventional tourism; from that arises a very meaningful question: can tourism and sustainability find a balance? Looking for this balance we find a relatively young tourism concept, sustainable tourism, which looks to minimize the costs and maximize the benefits of tourism to the natural environment and local communities. It is a long term activity, intended to avoid damaging the resources that it depends on. It looks for a balance between economics, local community and the natural environment. But what can you do to be a part of it?

At CEDO, our mission is to empower coastal communities in the Northern Gulf of California region with the knowledge and tools to create sustainable livelihoods that exist in concert with the surrounding natural and multicultural environment. With this mission CEDO has been partnering with local communities, looking for the path to reach sustainable tourism. This is why we offer ecotours, where we involve local communities, providing a model for others to follow. CEDO through its Coastal Conservation Program works with a co-op of women who handcraft beautiful items using discarded materials, thereby reducing trash and creating an alternative income for their families. Just north of Rocky Point, CEDO works closely with CECBA or Ecological Community Center of Bahia Adair that offers ecotours, lodging services, including a campground that, in the future, will offer cabins. What makes this development unique is that it is built with trash (bottles, cans and other discarded items) and the location is close to the bay, estuaries, salt mines and sand dunes, a development that enhances the local culture and their economy without damaging the environment.

CEDO´s work is a tourism transformation effort in the Upper Gulf of California, but this transformation from conventional tourism to sustainable tourism depends on each of us. Are you willing to be part of this transformation? If the answer is “yes,” we invite you to join us! Visit small developments run by locals to improve their economy! Get interested in learning more about local culture and environment, participate in ecotours, and encourage others to change the future of tourism in Rocky Point and all around the world, everywhere you go, “think local and act green!”

If you want to know more about CEDO´s ecotours visit our website: www.cedointercultural.org, or if you want to know more about CECBA visit: www.bahiaadair.com. If you want to meet the co-op Women Working “like” the Facebook page: Mujeres Trabajando. You can also send us an e-mail at info@cedointercultural.org

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