Tourism – Treat or Threat?

The travel industry is growing at an unprecedented pace with numbers increasing from 1,2 billion to 1,8 billion in the very near future. It also accounts for 10% of the world’s GDP, provides 1/10 jobs and is responsible for a massive carbon footprint due to airline travel. To encourage people to travel less is hardly an alternative since it is a valuable resource in developing countries some of which would be deprived of much-needed income if it were radically reduced. Besides, we expand our knowledge of the world, become more tolerant of other cultures, enrich our lives by experiencing new destinations first hand and escape the ignorance bubble of thinking that all we need to know about the world is on our doorstep. But this industry is in dire need of decoupling from abusing resources.

Drinking from a stream in Croatia

Choosing to sail by ship to our country of choice, is simply not an option due to time restrictions. The suggestion is not that we should all start travelling by boat but what if this is so, holidays could be extended to become ‘staycations’ in stead of just ‘vacations’. Here’s how:

  • Companies should get involved in work programmes whereby they transfer their employees to foreign places together with their families, to work and live there for periods of 6 months or more. The enrichment such an experience would bring to the table is immeasurable.
  • Visas should be lengthened beyond the current 3 month maximum.
  • Sabbaticals should be a requirement

And while we’re thinking of how we could gain from all this, what about the residence in these highly sought after spots that we so eagerly invade? Some villages, cities and countries, some with tiny populations, get overrun with tourists during high season. Resources are overwhelmed with all the demands made on them and it becomes all too easy for the traveller to complain causing angry rebuttals from locals who are then branded as ‘unfriendly’.

If you’re a visitor in a foreign country, that is exactly what you are, no more. We may dream of ‘staycations’ but if our holiday extends for a short week or maybe two, we should all be painstakingly aware of how we conduct ourselves.

Request:

No change of towels during your one week stay

No change of sheets

Use the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and make your own bed, or not!

Where the bottle deposit is

Added to this:

Take your own trash home with you especially in places where recycling is minimal

Use containers for toiletries and cosmetics that can be reused over and over again

Eat and drink locally produced products

Eat less meat

Travel by land if possible using bicycles and public transport rather than renting a car

Travel light and carry your own water bottles

Treat your hosts with respect even in the face of frustration

Look into the projects that Future Camp is involved with and join their community of believers by checking out their Living Lab Hotel and their Zero Waste Hotel to reduce your carbon footprint and expand your mind in stead.

Links: Future Camp 

Living Lab Hotel

Zero Waste Hotel

The Second Time – Croatia

Why would I want to return to a country full of grumpy people that don’t smile at you, don’t have a sense of humour and who really don’t know how to have fun?!

It’s a conundrum.

In defence of Croatia as a whole, it really does have some spectacular scenery like Plitvice, clean water at Gacka, clear turquoise sea in Makarska and beyond, great cuisine made of local, natural products and reasonable prices compared with the rest of the EU. But then there’s the thing of the people again…

Dhar Media
Manuela and Lea from Dhar Media not having fun at all!

This morning I went for a run as I do regularly. I like to go in the morning because you see the city waking up, people trudging to work, waiting on public transport and going through the motions of earning a living. Fresh pastry smells reach out at you from the bakeries and men stare at you from their coffee tables on the sidewalks. I stop to ask for directions. The woman who looks forbidding in her stern, stoic manner, breaks out in a smile which stretches from ear to ear and almost laughs when I ask her the way. She giggles while she talks,

“Go on with this road. You will pass a beautiful park with a boy, how shall I say, peeing, go past that and at the end you will get to where you’re going. But can I say something more? If you just turn left, you will get to an even more beautiful park which will take you to the same place.”

We wish each other a “lovely day” and I am delighted. After my shower, it’s time to meet the crew of Dhar Media. I’ve worked with them before and I know how unfriendly this lot can be. They’re waiting for me in the foyer with,

“Why are you late?”

I glance at my phone, one minute?!

Slavisa Brezar, co-founder of Dhar Media, serious as usual.
Slavisa Brezar, co-founder of Dhar Media, serious as usual.

In stead they grab me, hug me, kiss me on both cheeks and laugh through it all. We get to Badel’s headquarters where the filming will be done. The morning starts with a cappuccino and a Pelinkovac Antique. This is definitely not going to be fun, I just know it! I listen to one conversation, topped by another, interrupted by another and sometimes even one person multi-tasking and talking in two directions at the same time. I keep on wondering whether a fight is going to break out, but then everyone collapses in a fit of laughter and I laugh along, much relieved, even though I didn’t understand a word.

Last time I was here, I had to suffer the likes of Davor Gobac, flirting with every woman in sight, Davor Beroš, owner of Alto Krvavica charter company with his hair flowing and rustic seadog looks, the heart-melting smile of Stipe from Krka National Park who exclaims, “The only truth is nature and love!”, the knee-paralyzing-handsome Emil Lemac, owner of Mediteraneo Diving Center and the Nino, guitarist extraordinaire at Johnny’s Place in Šibenik. There is a limit to how much a woman can take! At my age, I will take all the flattery I can get, thank you very much.

Johnny's Place
Feasting in Johnny’s Place, a common occurrence

I’m sitting at an outdoor café, people-watching. This time it’s not the tinnitus in my ears but the buzzing of conversation, the families that walk by with kids running rings around parents, sexy men and women that are out on their evening stroll and loud laughter that catches my attention. And they don’t even need alcohol for all this frivolity, mainly ice cream and coffee on the tables beside me. Too many smokers, but that’s about all I have against the place.

Links:

Krka National Park

Mediterranean Diving Center

Johnny’s Place, Sibenik

Šibenik