December 30, 2014

"But along with the pleasures of travel have come problems — cultural disruption and homogenization, overcrowding and pollution."

The NYT sets up one of its "Room for Debate" features, teased on the front page as "Leaving Smaller Tourist Footprints." There are 5 debaters, but no one gets anywhere near the radical environmentalist position: Abstain! Do not travel for pleasure at all. Travel only to escape from violence and natural disasters. (What about visiting family members? No! Keep your family in one place.)

The actual answers given are things like:

1. "Visit popular sites like Machu Pichu in the shoulder season or off season. Let places have time to breathe.... Visit indigenous and community-based initiatives where people are controlling tourism on their own terms...." (From a cultural anthropologist.)

2. If you go on a cruise, pick a cruise line that's "eco-friendly." (From a reporter.)

3. Look into "how socially and environmentally sensitive the area might be and how well integrated it is with local communities." (From the founder of the Sustainable Travel and Tourism Agenda in Kenya.)

4. "Resist the temptation to design a city around tourism... remember that tourists come [to New York City] to experience what New Yorkers themselves enjoy about the city." (From a NYC reporter.)

5. The tourist industry needs to adopt "sustainable tourism" standards. (From the chief executive of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.)

39 comments:

Bruce Hayden said...

Places I travel to are much less polluted than NYC. Which may be one big reason I resist traveling there, esp. for vacations. And, yes, typically safer from human predators, and soon much safer, as law enforcement in NYC falls apart.

Anthony said...

Because environmentalism should only cost a little more, not require radical changes to one's lifestyle. Only those poor saps in Greater Flyover Country (between the Hudson and the San Francisco Bay or 405) should have to make significant sacrifices.

Brando said...

The swampies can do their eco-thing all they want--won't affect the rest of us. For adults, here's the best travel advice:

1) If possible, avoid popular vacation times for less crowded flights and more hotel availability. Waiting on lines suck, especially if you're on vacation.

2) Of course, if you're not into snow, avoid Maine in January. Though I'll note Florida in the summer is actually a great time for the beaches--far less crowded, water is warm, and the weather is no worse than the northeast.

3) It's true what they say about harder to reach restaurants--find out where the locals go, those restaurants have more incentive to be good than places in tourist zones. A major part of traveling is local food.

4) When possible, take the earliest flight of the day for least likelihood of delays, and take direct flights.

5) Overseas travel can be fun and interesting, but customs and passport control is an added nuisance you don't have to deal with domestically.

6) Good maps are key. Try to learn a bit of the local language, as locals are more likely to help you in English if they see you're trying and failing to master their language.

Bruce Hayden said...

Let me add that traveling to see friends and family is great. The idea that your family should remain close, esp. in NYC, is ludicrous. Much of the middle class there has been essentially squeezed out, between the poor and the rich. Sure, single professionals can get by on what they make, but it gets harder and harder to raise families there, and esp. to get affordable housing and good schooling. Makes much more sense for a lot of people to move somewhere else to buy a big house, get good, cheap, schooling, etc. And, this breaks up the families that the NYT pundit things should stay put.

Brando said...

"Places I travel to are much less polluted than NYC. Which may be one big reason I resist traveling there, esp. for vacations. And, yes, typically safer from human predators, and soon much safer, as law enforcement in NYC falls apart."

For now at least, NYC has an incredibly low crime rate compared to most U.S. cities. Enjoy it now before it becomes Thunderdome again.

Back in the '70s, cops would have to leave one officer in the car when making stops to prevent people stealing hubcabs right off the police cruisers.

John Lynch said...

Never mind that poor people can't travel, and environmental policies make people poor.

The idea is to make those people stop traveling, so we can see the world, unspoiled.

EDH said...

Would any of these people apply similar analysis to illegal migration to the US?

What does migration to the US do to a rural peasant's "carbon footprint"?

Even if you buy the asylum argument, aren't there destinations for refugees that are more "eco-friendly"?

Shouldn't these folks implore migrants to seek asylum elsewhere for the sake of the planet?

mccullough said...

People to go to New York to experience what New Yorkers do. Other than Yankee stadium, no tourist would visit the Bronx. Who goes to Stanton Island?

People visit Manhattan and maybe a small part of Brooklyn.

Nonapod said...

When responding to absurd people who say absurd things I have this overwhelming temptation to be absurdly reductive. It's almost a knee-jerk response for me.

I wonder if these authors are aware of just how silly they sound.

Shanna said...

Brando said...

Quite a few of your tips are things you do naturally if you are on a budget. Off season, cheaper flights, local restaurants, etc...all cheaper.

Fernandinande said...

If you want to punch an animal while on vacation, punch an elephant.

Tank said...

mccullough said...

People to go to New York to experience what New Yorkers do. Other than Yankee stadium, no tourist would visit the Bronx. Who goes to Stanton Island?

In the Bronx, you could go to the Bronx Zoo or the Botanical Gardens or Arthur Avenue (for the food).

rehajm said...

I didn't read the story. Did anyone suggest it's okay to purchase a souvenir and bring it home, but it's not okay to try and import the fiscal and political philosophies of the countries you visited? That would be good advice. I hope someone suggested it.

Henry said...

Not astonishingly, none of the travel promoters mention The Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy:

Bethselamin is a fabulously beautiful planet which attracts billions of tourists each year. Unsurprisingly, cumulative erosion is a serious concern of the local authorities. Their solution is to calculate the net imbalance between the amount of matter eaten and the amount subsequently excreted by each visitor, and remove the weight difference through amputative surgery. Thus it is vitally important to get a receipt after every trip to the lavatory while on the planet.

TreeJoe said...

Even by New York Times standards, that's about the least content I've seen as quoted from 5 "experts" interviewed for an article.

However, it has given me an idea to form a business based upon 18th and 19th century "low carbon footprint" travel whereby tourists can manifest destiny on a 1,500-2,500 mile wagon ride. And it would employ laid-off central park horses in an open-nature way, to show how much better their lives are now that they are traversing their natural terrain.

Ann Althouse said...

There are so many travel ads and articles in The New York Times that it's hard to see how they'd ever seriously address the environmental impact of travel.

Peter said...

"Who goes to Staten Island?

Eco-tourists who want to marvel at (the now-closed)Fresh Kills landfill?

See New York as New Yorkers see it? Yet many New Yorkers seldom if ever visit the Empire State Bldg., or the United Nations, or even the major art museums.

Also, the Circle Line cruise boat is well worth the time and expense, even though it's a tourist attraction.

One thing you might want to avoid as a tourist in NYC is the NYC subway. Sure, it'll take you practically everywhere in the City and it's about as non-touristy as one can get, but it can be insanely confusing if you're not used to it (and no GPS to provide turn-by-turn directions).

n.n said...

They could be talking about unmeasured illegal immigration, and immigration that exceeds the rate of assimilation. The second and third-world nations are overjoyed to reduce their problem set through non-lethal methods. The environmentalists are overjoyed to reclaim their green spaces.

Brando said...

"Quite a few of your tips are things you do naturally if you are on a budget. Off season, cheaper flights, local restaurants, etc...all cheaper."

That's an additional benefit--though I think I'd still stick with that plan if the cost were the same. I've grown intolerant of crowds and airline delays in my old age!

buwaya puti said...

There is a huge lot of the world to see that few bother to go to.
The Philippines for instance. There are thousands of islands and thousands of miles of uncrowded beach (other than a few popular spots). Try Romblon island, or Palawan. Or get a boat and cruise, island after island after island. Hardly anyone does this. Philippine waters should be crowded with yachts, cruise boats and ships of all sizes, but aren't.
And for that matter Indonesia, the Philippinesx10. Its not all Bali.
I like "browsing" Google Earth, and wondering about all the fascinating, odd, ignored bits.

Brando said...

"In the Bronx, you could go to the Bronx Zoo or the Botanical Gardens or Arthur Avenue (for the food)."

Absolutely--if your choice for Italian food is Arthur Avenue or Little Italy, go with Arthur Avenue.

The best advice on food I usually get from my sister who lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn since the late '90s and always knows the hole in the wall joints that are neither trendy nor touristy, but can really provide a great meal in a nice atmosphere. It helps a great deal to get suggestions from people who've lived in the place you're visiting--the guidebooks and online reviews can only help so much, and your friends will know your taste better.

Big Mike said...

Or the Times can STFU and let us peasants go on enjoying the world. Let them clean up New York City, which is dirty and polluted. Then come talk to us.

Anonymous said...

I know a person who truly believes the earth is dying due to man's pollution and global warming.

He of course goes on cycling vacations.

In Borneo.

Anonymous said...

6: Screw this BS. Travel where you want, when you want, and ignore the whining babies.

Also, #1 is utterly illogical. Going during the shoulder or off season hits it when it's trying to recover. For max environmental friendliness, go at the same time as everyone else, and leave it alone during the recovery time

jr565 said...

mccullough wrote:
"People to go to New York to experience what New Yorkers do. Other than Yankee stadium, no tourist would visit the Bronx. Who goes to Stanton Island?"

Stanton Island?

Kieth Nissen said...

One of the strange phenomenons of environmentalism is the nearly total acceptance of travel for pleasure in spite of its significantly negative effects. Here in Washington State the Governor promotes a "cap and trade" program to limit CO2 emissions while at the same time granting Boeing a rougly $8 billion dollar tax break to keep aircraft manufacturing in state. No one comments on this. See Megan McArdle.

furious_a said...

6. Visit Peru with the Granstanding Idiots of Greenpeace and stomp/deface the Nazca Lines.

Like blasting the Bhamiyan Buddhas, but with good intentions.

furious_a said...

Back in the '70s...

New York appears to be headed back to the 70s, Abe Beame-dysfunction-wise.

Hyphenated American said...

I am always curious if it makes sense to use Obama's travels as a yardstick for environmental friendliness. After all, Obama is one of the greatest environmentalists of this time, we can do wrong if we emulate him, right?

Bruce Hayden said...

I am always curious if it makes sense to use Obama's travels as a yardstick for environmental friendliness. After all, Obama is one of the greatest environmentalists of this time, we can do wrong if we emulate him, right?

It isn't just Obama - a lot of those proposing major restrictions in travel, and are pushing the global cooling/warming/climate change/weirding meme don't walk the walk, esp. when it comes to airline transportation. A couple of famous ones - Laurie Davids advising women to use only one square to TP, while she flew around the country on environmental missions in her private jet, and Nancy Pelosi, when she was majority leader requiring that the AF upgrade her ride to planes that commercially carry well over a hundred passengers, so that she could fly coast to coast every weekend without refueling.

retired said...

"Abstain!" Hah!

When they start acting like it's a crisis I'll start believing they think it's a crisis.

My activist relative and his family drove 2 cars for 3 passengers 350 miles one way for Christmas and then 2 of them flew cross country to see more relatives. Because convenience and perceived cost. Then he is flying and driving 1500 miles to go skiing next month, as am I.

Greyhound and Amtrak are available but not availed.

mesquito said...

I'll be traveling in Norway next sumer by bike and sleeping in a tent. I speak quite a bit of Norwegian. I want lots of points for all this even though my Ma is from Norway and I'm an extreme tightwad.

ken in tx said...

Today I had lunch in an Elevation Burger in Austin. I never heard of it before. They have a very limited menu—a $6 Elevation Burger, which is a double meat bacon cheeseburger, a $4 Kid Burger, which is a single meat bacon cheeseburger, and a $3.75 grilled cheese. I had a grilled cheese. It was made with a burger bun. The cheese was on the smooth side of the bun, and the bread side of the bun was the grilled part. Never seen that before either. They don't serve coffee. However they do serve a placemat with your order that tells you that every thing they serve is organic, free range, and sustainable. All their restaurants are constructed in a green and sustainable manner, using bamboo and natural sustainable green materials. At the door were two receptacles, one for trash and one for recycles. The contents of both were identical. Did I mention free range and sustainable? Keep Austin Weird--a tourist destination.

Anonymous said...

Fuck the environmental do-gooders.

Skipper said...

More examples of do what I say, not what I do. Anything a self-righteous lefty does is justified; anything anyone else does is a travesty.

Brando said...

The way to understand the swampies is to get that environmentalism is not a political cause but a religion. It's faith-based, as in "we don't have actual scientific proof that human activity is what is causing global warming, but we believe it is and if you disagree then you're an idiot." And also like religion, you have your share of hypocrites who profess the greatness of low carbon footprints and conservation while still using corporate jets and single occupant cars. The important thing is to be on the side of good, and make some token gestures--buy a Prius, take an "eco-vacation" (while the most "eco" vacation would be to stay home). And in the case of Al Gore--the most prominent swampy--all it takes to make up for a massive, energy sucking house is to buy some carbon credits. Just like indulgences!

I'm all for low-impact lifestyles--if the swampies convince enough people to cut back on their own carbon footprints, it has beneficial effects for the rest of us (lower demand for energy, less traffic on the road). Just like how if organized religion can get more people to be kind to one another, then so be it. I just don't much expect people to practice what they preach.

Brian McKim & Traci Skene said...

The year was 1990 or so. My wife and I were living in Los Angeles and just starting to travel for pleasure. We went to the huge travel expo in downtown L.A. The biggest disappointment was blowhard Arthur Frommer who advocated a new philosophy of travel which emphasized responsibility and gaining knowledge and looking after the environment. Ugh. Boring. Pretentious. Hollow. Stupid.

Trashhauler said...

My advice is to go where you want, when you want. Anything else is either pretentious, boring, or authoritarian.

Anonymous said...

Question for the audience: was this article in the NYT a nudge or a prick?