The Trouble with Tourism

in Essays/Field Notes

Kiko Anderson of Caleta Maria, at the terminus of the Pan-American Highway in Tierra del Fuego, asks us to consider this essay by Steven Hollenhorst et al. on appropriately-scaled tourism in remote and ecologically sensitive places:

Finally, Steven Hollenhorst, the Dean of Huxley College, and two others, have put down in words an important concept I’ve been struggling with for years over the paradox of developing “eco”tourism in a place as remote as Tierra del Fuego. Kudos, Steven. A challenge for all who’ve contemplated such, but now more graspable. The upshot is not so hard: appeal to more local tourists; i.e. Argentines, Chileans, Uruguayans and Brazilians, etc. Especially those arriving by bike! And get them to want to stay a good long time once they get there, to fully absorb and understand that unique, remote, uttermost part of the earth. Make that available to others living further away digitally, or just enjoyed by those lucky enough to live near. Devise a way to account for each arrival’s carbon footprint, and the higher it is, the longer they stay to amortize it down to a sustainable daily budget. Tall order. Uneven playing field. Let’s hold the line though, by making the experience extreme enough to make it memorable. Live enough like the Selk’nam to make it memorable and repeatable by others. I renew my commitment to pioneer the way by making camping a la Selk’nam comfortable enough that ConcSurs might actually do it for a good long while. You all may have ideas of how to help in that effort.  –Kiko Anderson

(Photo by Carolina Saquel)

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