Tinkering with ‘sustainable or eco-tourism’ hides the real face of tourism

By Anita Pleumarom (Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team) and Chee Yoke Ling (Third World Network)

Reproduced here by kind permission of Anita Pleumarom, Chee Yoke Ling and the Third World Network – www.twn.my

The United Nations committed a substantial error when it proclaimed 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.  Despite its pronouncements of tourism being a positive force for economic development and poverty eradication, tourism is inept at meeting the challenge of implementing the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Like no other industry, tourism promotes – and glamorizes – a hyper-mobile and hyper-consumeristic lifestyle, rendering sustainability elusive. In fact, most tourism development is fraught with negatives including gross inequalities, human rights violations, cultural erosion, environmental degradation and climate instability (1).

Recent research is particularly alarming in terms of tourism’s contribution to climate change, primarily due to the high energy use for transport such as air travel. Based on a new global tourism emissions model, global tourism is set to emit some 300 gigatonnes of CO2 between 2015 and 2100, which is 30 percent of the global carbon budget for sustainable development (2). It is preposterous to allocate so much of this budget to tourism, instead of meeting the acute energy needs of billions of people around the world. Meanwhile, tourism alternatives such as ‘green’ or ‘eco’-tourism can also be problematic. Not only do they usually depend on long-haul flights that drive climate change, they also tend to penetrate fragile ecosystems and Indigenous Peoples’ ancestral lands, triggering both biodiversity loss and culture loss.

Tourism as a major source of financial leakage is well documented (3). Since it is frequently large foreign companies that either initiate or take over commercially successful tourism projects, the domestic retention and distribution of tourism benefits has a very poor record; profits are generally repatriated to corporate headquarters and shareholders abroad. A particular characteristic of tourism in this age of neoliberal globalisation is that it is closely intertwined with the finance and real estate industries. Ground evidence shows that vast tracts of public land are being privatized and acquired by foreign investors for luxury tourism – plus tourism-related residential, commercial and mega-infrastructure developments (e.g. ‘aerotropolis’, or airport cities) – resulting in displacement and disempowerment of local people. The radically de-regulated business environment spawns price hikes and speculation, posing high risks to local economies, ways of life and community social structures.

The nature and conceptualisation of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) does not allow for it to adequately deal with the unsustainable and unjust patterns of tourism. Originally formed as a business organisation, the UNWTO remains industry-controlled and industry-oriented, and its critics do not regard it as a responsible UN agency acting for the common good. In synchrony with the global tourism and travel industry, it continues to aggressively campaign for further tourism growth despite the fact that much of contemporary tourism is antithetical to sustainable development and most of the tourism-related goods and services are luxuries that can only be enjoyed by the world’s minority. Even if some improvements can be achieved in tourism through better regulation and management as well as increased incentives for ecologically sustainable activities (alleged ‘eco’-tourism among them), it is clear that the gains made will be negligible in the context of the continued growth of the tourism industry at large, as forecast and aspired by the UNWTO. Instead of down-scaling the inflated tourism sector and effectively engaging in harm avoidance, the UNWTO sends a wrong message to the public: that ‘sustainable (eco)tourism’ is the solution and needs to grow without barriers for the benefit of us all.

Actually, steering tourism policy and practice towards more sustainability requires first and foremost correcting the unjust economic structures and power relations that drive tourism development. It is also necessary to put in place laws and regulations that effectively protect local citizens and communities from harmful tourism, including mechanisms that require travel and tourism businesses to compensate for social losses and to clean up the damage they created. Clear transparent, accessible processes for accountability are needed, which empower people(s) to monitor and hold governments, financial institutions, development agencies and the private sector engaging in tourism  accountable for their actions.

Rather than aiming at further tourism expansion, other more sustainable economic activities should be developed, particularly in small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs) that heavily rely on tourism – which not only must contend with the volatility of tourism (e.g. due to international financial/economic crises, acts of violence, extreme weather events, natural disasters and pandemics), but also are endangered by tourism-induced climate change.  This is a major undertaking that the international community must assist with, for the transition of those economies and health of their populations.

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References:

(1) Third World Network, ‘Global Tourism Growth: Remedy of Ruin?’, TWR, Sept./Oct 2015, http://www.twn.my/title2/resurgence/2015/301-302.htm

(2) Sustainability Leaders Interview: Paul Peeters on Tourism, Aviation and Climate Change, 8 June 2016, http://sustainability-leaders.com/interview-paul-peeters-on-tourism-aviation-climate-change/

(3) Pleumarom, A., ‘Tourism – a driver of inequality and displacement’, TWR, Sept./Oct 2015, http://www.twn.my/title2/resurgence/2015/301-302/cover01.htm

This article can be downloaded from Third World Network’s website at: www.twn.my/tour.htm

TWN banner

 The article is based on a chapter entitled ‘Corporate capture subverts production and consumption transformation’ by Chee Yoke Ling, published in Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2016: Report by the Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 11 July 2016, pp.94-100  

The full report as well as single chapters of it can be downloaded at: https://www.2030spotlight.org/

Tourism, repression and racism against the Garífuna of Honduras

For all those interested in the mechanics of accumulation by dispossession, I recommend a reading of the following article at:

Garífuna People Face Tourism Repression in Honduras

 

The article includes two video clips showing the eviction of Garífuna people from their village of Barra Vieja by a force of army and police personnel for the sake of the expansion of the Indura Hilton development. It is a threatening and sobering view of how so-called ‘development’ is carried out.

 

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The article first appeared in the WilderUtopia website and

WilderUtopia is dedicated to the question of Earth sustainability, finding society-level solutions to environmental, community, economic, transportation and energy needs. Our frame is Wilderness and its wildlife. Our endgame is Utopia: stabilizing ecologic relations through urban planning and design. We celebrate world culture and literary expression, and our inspiration sources from indigenous myth and storytelling, as well as the rituals and traditions of the many peoples on the planet.

WilderUtopia.com regularly posts articles, photo essays, features, and documentaries from around the web that illuminate the challenges to coexistence between city and wild, developed and developing, human and other.

‘Canadian tourism mafia’ file trumped-up charges against Garífuna leader Miriam Miranda in Honduras’ corrupted legal system

Honduras Solidarity Network and Rights Action alert, November 17, 2017

 

Article reproduced here by kind permission of Grahame Russell of Rights Action and Karen Spring of the Honduras Solidarity Network.

Original posting by Rights Action at:

https://us9.campaign-archive.com/?u=ea011209a243050dfb66dff59&id=b5492c424f

A member of the ‘Canadian tourism mafia’ along Honduras’ north coast, that includes Patrick Forseth and Randy “the porn king” Jorgensen, filed trumped-up charges against indigenous Garifuna leader Miriam Miranda and three other women, in Honduras’ corrupted legal system.

(Miriam Miranda, General Coordinator of OFRANEH demanding justice at a large protest outside of the Honduran Supreme Court in Tegucigalpa on the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Lenca indigenous activist, Berta Caceres of COPINH. Photo: Karen Spring)

The four must go to court, November 24, to respond to these “charges”.  They potentially face up to 2-3 years in jail, and now must spend time and resources (of the few they have) to defend themselves from these manipulative charges.

Canadian tourism investor Patrick Forseth, of the CARIVIDA Villas company, has falsely accused Miriam Miranda, the General Coordinator of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), and three other Garifuna women – Medeline David, Neny Heidy Avila, and Letty Bernardez – of slander and defamation.

Miriam Miranda is a leading Honduran Garífuna activist who has faced numerous threats and direct acts of repression for her courageous, articulate long-time work with OFRANEH and other Honduran groups and movements.

The reasons behind the malicious charges against these four Garífuna women are quite simple.  Forseth and CARIVIDA are involved in a major land dispute with the indigenous Garifuna community of Guadalupe in Trujillo Bay, located on the Caribbean coast of Honduras.  Forseth has used several very questionable legal maneuvers in the now (since the 2009 military coup) deeply corrupted Honduran legal system, to criminalize any indigenous Garífuna people involved in land, territory and human rights defence work, in order to further claims that CARIVIDA’s illegal land purchase in Guadalupe was valid.

One of the local woman being charged, Medeline David already faces charges of illegal possession of land as a result of her participation in a community-led land reclamation project to recuperate their own land – land in dispute with CARIVIDA.

Geovanny Bernardez, another OFRANEH leader and other Guadalupe community activists including leader, Celso Guillen, also face charges laid by the Honduran state and CARIVIDA as a result of the same land dispute.

The legal case against Miranda and the 3 women was presented on May 26, 2017 and the first court hearing is scheduled for November 24, 2017.  If found guilty, Miriam, Medeline, Neny, and Letty could face up to 2-3 years in prison.

This defamation accusation is a clear example of how wealthy North Americans use and take advantage of the impunity and corruption in Honduras’ post 2009 military coup political and legal systems to criminalize people that resist their economic interests and projects.

The land defence project in the Garífuna community of Guadalupe in Trujillo Bay. The area where many community members are camping out is the land that is claimed to be owned by Patrick Forseth. Forseth plans to build a resort and villa project on the land. (Photo Karen Spring)

As the General Coordinator of OFRANEH, Miranda is being directly targeted in an attempt to silence the resistance of Garifuna communities not only in Trujillo Bay, but in other land disputes across the coast of Honduras.

Forseth is the husband of the stepdaughter of Canadian businessman, Randy Jorgensen (“the Porn King”) who owns and operates several gated community projects in the same Trujillo Bay region.  Some of Jorgensen’s tourist projects are adjacent to the land that Forseth claims he owns and “legally purchased.”

Forseth, Jorgensen and other North Americans continue to take control of lands that are inside ancestral indigenous Garífuna titles, some of which date as far back as the 1860s. Jorgensen is facing charges of illegal possession of land for his project Campa Vista owned by his company, Life Vision Development.

Karen Spring, Honduras Solidarity Network, spring.kj@gmail.com
Grahame Russell, Rights Action, info@rightsaction.org

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Background

OFRANEH members denounced for defamation by Canadian tourism investors Patrick Daniel Forseth (Carivida Villas) and Randy Jorgensen (Life Vision Developments)
http://mailchi.mp/rightsaction/ofraneh-denounced-for-defamation-by-forseth-and-jorgensen

Lands To Die For: The Garifuna Struggle In Honduras
December 20, 2016, CCTV Americas
35 minute film about violent and corrupt challenges facing the Garífuna people, lead by the OFRANEH organisation, in the context of the violence and repression, impunity and corruption that characterise the Honduran military, economic and political elites and their international partners.
http://www.cctv-america.com/2016/12/20/lands-to-die-for-the-garifuna-struggle-in-honduras

Miriam Miranda, OFRANEH leader, detained and threatened by Honduran police
On January 11, 2017, Miriam Miranda and three other members of OFRANEH (Fraternal Organisation of Black and Garífuna Peoples) – Luís Gutiérrez, Oscar Gaboa, Luís Miranda – were illegally detained and threatened by police at a roadside stop in La Ceiba, along Honduras’ north coast.
http://us9.campaign-archive1.com/?u=ea011209a243050dfb66dff59&id=6d6627ffdb

The Canadian porn king and the Caribbean paradise: Is a businessman taking advantage of lawlessness to scoop up land?
November 20, 2016, by Marina Jimenez
https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2016/11/20/the-canadian-porn-king-and-the-caribbean-paradise.html

The U.S. and Canada Have Blood on Their Hands in Honduras
October 22, 2016, by Grahame Russell
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/The-US-and-Canada-Have-Blood-on-Their-Hands-in-Honduras-20161022-0010.html

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Names/Addresses

Carivida Villas
www.carivida.com
info@carivida.com
(778) 242-8678
Carivida Club Café
Trujillo, Colón, Honduras

Life Vision Properties
http://lifevisionproperties.com/
90 Admiral Blvd. Mississauga, ON, Canada, L5T 2W1
1 (416) 900-6098

Ambassador Michael Gort, Embassy of Canada in Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua, Tel: (504) 2232-4551; Michael.gort@international.gc.ca; tglpa@international.gc.ca

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More information

OFRANEH (Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña)
garifuna@ofraneh.org, www.ofraneh.org, http://www.ofraneh.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

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Washington, DC 0

 

Tourism in Nicaragua Takes a Hit

By Martin Mowforth

Article in ENCA 74, November 2018

Despite the very best efforts of Anasha Campbell, Co-Director of Nicaragua’s Tourism Institute (INTUR), it is clear that the rising star of the Nicaraguan economy – tourism – has been dealt a huge blow by the crisis caused by the anti-government protests since April this year. In August the Tortilla Con Sal blog published an interview with Campbell in which she failed to make even one explicit reference to the protests or their effects on the country’s tourism industry.

It is of course understandable that the INTUR and its officers should try to amplify their claims of an attractive and rapidly expanding industry – that’s precisely what it was before the troubles began in April. In fact it had already gained an enviable reputation and was fast overtaking all other sources of foreign income in the country. But it was rather disingenuous to try to hide the devastating effects of the crisis on the industry – although, to be fair, what the blog published was probably only a small proportion of the whole interview.

By the end of August most of the road blocks or barricades had been dismantled and movement around the country was once again possible. (Incidentally, that did not indicate that the troubles had come to an end.) Associated Press reported that the tourism sector had “become Nicaragua’s top source of foreign currency in the past two years,” but had shed as many as 70,000 jobs as a result of the protests. Revenue at hotels and restaurants fell by 45 per cent in June compared to 2017, according to Nicaragua’s Central Bank, whilst construction fell by 35 per cent and retail 27 per cent.

El Economista reported that the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur) had estimated a $400 million loss in tourism compared with 2017. Canatur’s study calculated that 83 per cent of tourism companies had reduced their services by at least 30 per cent, and that since the start of the protests more than 60,000 people had been laid off in the tourism sector along with 16,000 reduced to part-time work.

Within three months of the start of the protests, the city of León’s most up-market hotel, El Convento, had been forced to close for lack of guests. Similarly in La Concha, the Spanish School and Eco-Hotel La Mariposa (http://mariposaspanishschool.com/) also had to close, although it is good news to hear that they have now re-opened for bookings. Towards the end of August, the first cruise ship to call for three months docked off San Juan del Sur. Around the same time, Nicaraguan tourism businesses asked foreign governments to change their travel advisories which strongly advised travellers not to visit Nicaragua.

There may be the initial signs of recovery, but these are small and the country now has a long way to go to reach the dizzy heights of the previous season. More importantly for many people who lost their jobs in tourism during the crisis, there may be some small hope that a recovery of the industry will create anew their jobs. But it is highly unlikely that the recovery will be rapid – a reputation will not be rebuilt overnight; although as we have seen, it can be lost overnight.


Sources:

  • Alliance for Global Justice (22 August 2018), NicaNotes – Briefs: ‘Cruise ship ‘Crystal Symphony’ arrives in San Juan del Sur’ and ‘Tourism businesses ask foreign government to lift travel alerts’.
  • Associated Press (11 September 2018), ‘Months of deadly unrest devastate Nicaragua’s economy’
  • El Economista (20 September 2018), ‘Nicaragua dejará de percibir $400 millones en turismo por crisis’.
  • La Mariposa (September 2018), ‘Closure of La Mariposa’, La Mariposa e-list communication.
  • La Mariposa (4 October 2018), ‘We are taking a risk, but let’s make it work for everyone – we are now open’, La Mariposa e-list communication.
  • teleSur (25 August 2018), ‘Tourism, Democracy and Development in Nicaragua’, an interview by Tortilla Con Sal with Anasha Campbell, co-director of Nicaragua’s Tourism Institute.
  • United States Department of State (12 September 2018), Travel Advisory for Nicaragua.

Tourism, Home Burnings and Territorial Evictions Along The Garífuna Coast in Honduras

The following report comes through Rights Action and is originally from OFRANEH, The Black Fraternal Organisation of Honduras.

September 11, 2016

By OFRANEH, Sambo Creek, Aug 10, 2016 (translated by Steven Johnson)
https://ofraneh.wordpress.com/2016/09/10/presiones-territoriales-en-la-costa-garifuna-fallo-a-favor-de-barra-vieja-e-intento-de-desalojo-en-santa-fe

Yesterday, the Court in Tela issued a not guilty ruling in favour of the Garífuna community of Barra Vieja, which is being harassed by the Indura Hilton, by means of the National Port Company and the Honduran Institute of Tourism.

The trial against the leadership of Barra Vieja took place after 64 members of the community were put on trial in June of last year.  The court declared them innocent of the crime of seizure of property.  The ruling in the case indicated, among other things: “It is unknown at this time how many hectares or manzanas are registered in favour of the National Port Company, or the Honduran Institute of Tourism, the National Agrarian Institute and the Tela Bay Project.”  There certainly exists an overlap between the various government entities and the investors. However, it remains clear that the land in question is part of Garífuna ancestral territory.

For over four decades, the Garífuna communities in Tela Bay have suffered strong threats to their territory, accompanied by assassination of leaders, promoted by business people and politicians who have sought to create a tourism enclave, refusing to consider the environmental and social costs.

While in Tela the ancestral territory rights were recognized for the Barra Vieja community, last Thursday, September 8, in the afternoon, a contingent of police accompanied by a group of armed civilians attempted to evict a group of neighbours from the community who had recovered a piece of land that had been “sold” in an irregular manner to foreigners.

screen-shot-2016-12-27-at-11-11-17

The police presented an order of eviction, issued on April 7, 2016, by judge Víctor Manuel Melendez Castro.  The eviction order was sought by Mr. John J. Scott and Sandra L. Scott, who claim they are the owners of a piece of land in San Blas, located in the Municipality of Santa Fe, Colón.

The use of hired thugs by the police to burn down the dwellings and their contents is, by itself, a violation of the law, as well as violating the rights of the Garífuna people to their ancestral territory.  The members of the community of Giriga (Santa Fe) emphatically rejected the eviction attempt.

In 2007, Trujillo Bay became a piñata of territory, promoted by the Canadian Randy Jorgensen, known as the King of Porn, who received unlimited help from the Municipalities of Santa Fe and Trujillo.  Apparently, the Scotts are connected to Jorgensen, as is indicated in a blog about tourism published by Sandra Scott.

During the administration of post-military coup, regime leader “Pepe” Lobo, Jorgensen counted on his unconditional help to obtain environmental permits and “legalize” his projects of real estate speculation and the construction of the Banana Coast cruise ship docks.

In December 2011, the Public Prosecutor’s office issued an order against Jorgensen, accusing him of seizure of property.

It took until 2015 for him to finally appear in court in Trujillo, which then granted him a provisional acquittal.  The Appeals Court of La Ceiba nullified this provisional acquittal and required Jorgensen to appear again before the courts, which Jorgensen refused to comply with.  The “King of Porn” has thus far avoided facing justice.

Both Trujillo Bay and Tela Bay have become focal points of dispossession in the name of tourism, and the businesspeople and investors supported by the State come and push out the Garífuna communities, which have to endure the overlapping pressures.

With the advent of petroleum production in the Moskitia region, there arises a new threat to Trujillo Bay and its inhabitants: the construction of a petroleum refinery, which endangers the fragile and rich biodiversity of the region.

Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, OFRANEH

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Rights Action has sent an initial $1,000 to OFRANEH to help the families of Santa Fe whose homes were burnt.