Diversity is key, whether it’s your investment portfolio, (don’t put all your eggs in one basket), or in nature, where, for example, a person trying to keep their lawn “tidy” has to spend countless hours of work and bags of cash on nefarious chemicals, in order to keep nature from balancing it out with various other plants.
Nature strives for diversity, too much of any one thing always creates problems, a fact that applies to everything.
Cheap flights have opened up the possibility of travel for a much larger swath of society and, combined with social media, the days of undiscovered and undisturbed destinations are long gone, an interesting paradox. I often come across articles promoting “remote” and “undiscovered” destinations, the very nature of these articles is going against what they’re trying to attract you with!
We’ve all read and seen features on Venice and Barcelona, two prime examples of “toorism”. Venice has become a Disneyland, of sorts. Hordes of people dock at that historical city on a daily basis, causing such an imbalance that locals are feeling squeezed out and infrastructure is caving in. In their attempts to mitigate, they’ve introduced fees to visit and specific routes tourists can walk. In Barcelona, residents are taking to the streets and “welcoming” tour buses with signs saying “go home”. The visitors aren t at fault, they just want to enjoy themselves, immersed in foreign culture and history. It s that problem of imbalance, once again. For countries in southern Europe, for example, tourist money is easy and plentiful, all other avenues of income pale in comparison.
That’s our nature though, isn’t it? While the getting is good, ignore everything else. Even with the examples of places like Venice and Barcelona, governments around the world continue to promote tourism as the best solution for economic woes, without seriously considering, and thus preparing for, the consequences of becoming a popular destination. Pollution, gentrification, poverty, tourism is a major contributor to these issues. Portugal, arguably one of the world’s best tourist destinations, is seriously suffering from this paradox. On the one hand, tourists open doors for many related businesses that greatly boost that economic sector. The other side of that coin is a Lisbon, or a Porto, devoid of the generations of people that made up the very fabric of these cities, (due to high real estate/rent costs), which, in turn, made them so attractive to outsiders.
When living in Lisbon, in the early nineties, I used to take trolly number 28 to work every day. Today, hundreds of tourists line up daily in order to experience a ride on those charming links to the past. How can commuters count on them to get to where they need to go when they’ve become a tourist attraction? One tends to blame the tourists, but, in my view, we are all responsible. The price of going out on the town has risen sharply because tourists can afford to pay more, so that means everyone pays more. And then came covid. Suddenly, there were a lot of empty hotel rooms, restaurants and bars. Why? Because the tourists were no longer allowed in and, because we have so many eggs in the tourism basket, many people were out of work, (and continue to be). Balance, it’s one of the keys to happiness, the very key to sustainability. We have to contain our excitement for easy money, because there is no such thing. There’s always a price to pay, no pun intended. Here in Portugal, there is still plenty of space for tourists, but they need to be spread out, away from the cities. Countries like Portugal have plenty more to offer than just beautiful, historic cities, if you want to learn about a culture, explore the places that have been left behind by years of migration to the large centres and to other lands. In general, we all have to consider every side of every situation, before making a decision, that’s a pretty general statement, but it applies perfectly to the tourism industry. In today’s world, we can no longer afford to make hasty decisions, even for something so seemingly simple as taking a vacation. We’re now a global village and one individual’s decision affects the lives of many more people than it used to.