October 16th, 2011
San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas
To groups, organizations and social networks
To the public media, both commercial and alternative
To people who visit this city
To society in general
To mark the World Summit on Adventure Tourism, which will be held from 17th to 20th October, mainly in the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Otros Mundos AC (Friends of the Earth Mexico) would like to share some reflections and proposals:
Tourism is an essentially elitist activity, as there are millions of people around the world who cannot afford it, given the widespread inequality imposed by the capitalist system, even more so if it is "adventure tourism". This we know only too well in Chiapas. In addition, there is much research and analysis which shows tourism to be an activity that adversely affects the biodiversity and the people of the areas where it develops, just think of Acapulco or Cancun. It seems that this evidence is not enough, and the political authorities are saying that tourism brings progress and development, but for whom?
Tourism brings many consequences: the effect of the huge oil consumption necessary for air and land transport, emitting gases into the atmosphere; the effect of the construction of infrastructure in tourist areas (highways, airports, etc..) ; the effect of the need for many raw materials, which devastates mountains, rivers, jungles, ... in order to obtain materials or energy; the effect on the local cultures who are required to serve the tourism industry; the effect of spending millions of dollars on advertising that could be devoted to schools and hospitals; the effect of the repression and militarization of communities who do not want these activities and are struggling to defend their land and territory and to seek real alternative ways of living.
Behind all this we can see the intention to privatize rivers, forests, roads, biodiversity and other natural wonders for the benefit of a privileged few, hiding and socializing the resultant negative impacts. This process is needed to perpetuate the current system of consumption.
As for the vast majority of people living in Chiapas, our daily activities are already an adventure (terrible), the search for means of survival and sustenance, regularly clearing up after floods, sorting our way through mountains of bureaucratic paperwork, enduring political corruption, looking for good quality public education, seeking some type of health care, combating violence against women, trying to overcome at least curable diseases, enduring traffic or avoiding potholes ...
-That the money used to beautify the city should be deducted from politicians’ salaries, and the same amount of money (or more) be used to provide housing, sanitation, education and decent healthcare to the thousands of people living on the margins of this magical city and of the whole state.
-That the millions of dollars spent on promoting tourism and hosting such big events be used to build the food sovereignty of rural populations, thus avoiding much of the migration.
-That the money invested in tourism infrastructure be used to develop alternative and appropriate technologies, such as rain water harvesting, dry toilets, composting, small-scale wind power, etc.
-That the energy expended by adventure tourists in their activities be used instead to press for change to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in their cities and countries, which affect regions in the Global South, taking into account that tourist travel and the maintenance of the standard of living in the North (with its predatory model of production, transportation and consumption) result in serious consequences in the South.
-That to keep natural paradises intact it is best not to visit them.
And we invite you to the summit of resistance, 17th and 18th October in the Cathedral Square, SCLC.