2011 started in a revolutionary fashion with the people of northern Africa turning on dictatorships and oppression. The 28th January sparked a mass medial revolution aimed at outgoing tourism from Sweden, as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs called of all travel to Egypt. This sent media on a rampage to crucify the tourism industry for sending travelers to dictator countries. All of a sudden everyone became aware of this and the question whether or not it’s ethically correct to travel to countries that are controlled by dictators that oppress its own people, could be heard on the news and in heated debates.
Reliability of tourism
I was myself confronted by this question on two occasions by different journalists. I believe that the question is highly relevant but hardly justified. My view was, and still is, to turn the question around. We need to ask ourselves if it is ethically correct to make countries, destinations, families and people fully reliable on the income of tourism and then all of a sudden when the uprising is on, we leave them to their own destiny and poverty.
I wrote an opinion piece on the events in Egypt and the effects on the tourism and the local people, where I question the non-proactive management of mass-tourism and the lack of objective coverage of tourism from media. The aim was to get a debate going on TV and other media, but it never took off. Instead I had to withstand some heavy “virtual” attacks. Read it here in Swedish.
Where did all the noice go?
I also did an interview for NTD Television on the same topic. This was over two months ago, almost three actually, and the question I ask myself today is what happened? What became of the flared up heated debate? Did it just die out like that? Did media lose interest in it? Has it actually meant anything at all and did it get any positive outcome and change?
The last question I received in the interview with NTD Television was if I believed that the recent events would have any effect on people and the industry? My somewhat pessimistic answer was no. Though I wish I was wrong, the answer proved to be right.
What happened to the experts?
Yes, I’ve seen a few articles here and there, some talk on the radio and someone mentioning things around it on TV, but that’s all. Media really had the opportunity to raise awareness and help to push through a change and inform the general audience about the situation, but instead of trying to get a dialogue started with the tourism and travel industry, the tactic chosen, was to turn against it and put the industry in one corner and “experts” such as journalists, professors and organizations in the other and let them battle it out. I had one wish, which I put forward to journalists, to get a debate going between people within the industry, that has the experience of it and knows how it work.
Let the companies that are successful with responsible tourism debate and discuss with the big charter dogs instead. I’m 100% sure that a debate of that kind would be much more fruitful with a bigger potential for a positive change and cooperation. It is easy to tell someone that they do wrong, but that’s not how problems are solved. Problems are solved by sharing intellect, ideas and experience. This is what the debate could’ve lead to instead of just crucifying the whole industry. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, tourism isn’t in its core bad. It has a wealth of positive aspects that we need to harness while we need to work to minimize the negative ones.
The debate just went quiet and tourism is back in Egypt like before. Only time will tell if there was anything else won from the uprise apart from the removal of Hosni Mubarak?