Wednesday is “World Responsible Tourism Day.” And the Minority Rights Group International says in many countries with tourism industries, minority and indigenous communities have been forced from their land in favor of wildlife resorts.
From Geneva, Cynthia Morel, the group’s legal officer, spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.
“What I see is a very interesting development in the sense that the potential for the local economy is enormous. And technically it would be enormous for all to benefit. But unfortunately many of the ways in which tourism is practiced at the moment actually alienates many of the indigenous and minority communities for the benefit perhaps of economic interests that are local but also international, but not necessarily reaching the people affected,” she says.
Asked how they’ve been affected, Morel says, “Often what we’ve seen around the world is a case of people being forcibly displaced for the construction of hotels or for the creation of natural reserves. In the case of indigenous peoples in particular, this is problematic because of their very close relationship to the land for the sustaining of their traditional way of life. It’s also somewhat ironic because indigenous peoples have traditionally been the custodians of these lands and have maintained these lands in a very good equilibrium. And so they’re very necessary, especially for eco-tourism, but unfortunately, they’re not always at the center of these developments.”
Morel tourists can help by seeking out ethical tourism services that respect the rights of minority and indigenous peoples.