Tourism Responsible For Coastal Resource Loss Cited

Tourism Responsible For Coastal Resource Loss Cited

12 February 2009

Activists who attended the 2009 World Social Forum in Belém do Pará, Brazil, from 28 January to 1 February, denounced contemporary tourism policies dominated by the neoliberal vision of national governments, the global tourism industry and global organizations like the UNWTO and affirmed that it is urgent and possible to bring about another tourism (see #1).

Mega-resort and real estate developments and the enormous problems they cause for society and the environment featured high on the agenda of the WSF tourism seminar. The plan to launch an international campaign on these issues found great interest so that activists in Latin America are now developing a concept for alliance-building and action. It is hoped that a wider range of popular movements – including fisherfolk, Indigenous Peoples, mangrove protectors and other environmentalists – will join the global action network that will work to protect coastlines and other valuable ecosystems from destructive resorts, golf courses and marinas. To facilitate the process, campaign groups, including the Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team, have prepared a sign-on statement that calls for a moratorium on harmful mega-resorts and real estate developments (#2).

If you can endorse the statement, please email us at tim-team or at Equations .

For some years already, Spain, and the Valencian Region in particular, have come in for heavy criticism for their infamous `land grab’ town planning laws that allow resort developers to expropriate land from private owners (see #3). Victims of these laws, many of whom have lost their homes and been financially ruined by greedy businesspeople and politicians, took their complaints to Brussels when it became clear that the local administration did not care. Subsequently, the European Parliament has condemned Spain three times since 2003 on the `land grab’ issue. On 11 February, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) launched a new offensive against the notorious Spanish laws after the Petitions Committee approved a damning new report slamming planning loopholes.

This case from Spain illustrates as to how hard small land and home owners have to struggle against powerful alliances of unscrupulous developers and politicians. Sir Robert Atkins, a British Tory MEP, was quoted in The Telegraph (12 Feb 2009) as saying: “The scandalous behaviour of some developers, builders and local authorities resulting in people losing their homes has to stop now. The emotional and financial trauma suffered by so many legitimate home owners has to be rectified.” He added, “The European Parliament has expressed a forceful condemnation of Spanish Land Law and its implementation and it is imperative that all political parties in Spain understand the anger of residents and act to change the law as soon as possible.” Hopefully, such sympathy and solidarity action are not only restricted to Europe but will also be extended to farmers and fishers folks in Third World countries, who are even more vulnerable and defenseless when tourism and real estate developers illegitimately take over their land, forests and beaches.

Yours truly,

Anita Pleumarom
Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team



World Social Forum, Belém do Pará – Brazil, 28 January to 1 February 2009

We, participants of the Global Tourism Interventions Forum, which took place between 28 January and 1 February during the World Social Forum in Belém of Pará, Brazil, Pan-Amazon region, members of organizations of countries of Latin America, North America, Asia, Africa and Europe, affirm that another tourism is possible and urgent!

We denounce the hegemonic tourism policies as the main obstacle to build another model of tourism. These policies are characterized by: >>the neoliberal vision of national governments, the global tourism industry and global organizations like the UNWTO; >>the privatization of territories of traditional and indigenous people by trans and multinational corporations backed by the governments, especially in developing countries;
>>the unpunished favoring of continuing sexual and economical exploitation of the labor and body of women, of children and young people and of workers, a clear and repugnant violation of human, social and labor rights;
>>the destruction of the environment, in coastal areas, forests, territories of traditional and indigenous people and places of great natural scenic beauty, where big tourist real estate enterprises are installed bringing about financial speculation;
>>the lack of democracy and transparency with which they are implemented, deliberately excluding the participation of communities and critical organizations in the decision-making process;
>>the aggravation of poverty among local populations and of social inequality;
>>the concentration of income from tourism in the hands of big corporations facilitated by large amounts of public funds and by international financial institutions;
>>and the deregulation of tourism contributing to the several social and environmental conflicts that we identify in various parts of the world as a result of predatory, excluding and unsustainable tourism.

Conventional tourism contributes to global warming and climate change. It emits greenhouse gases while privileging tourism transport means moved by fossil fuels, besides other unsustainable practices and consumption forms. While settling in coastal-marine areas, in territories of indigenous and traditional peoples who live interlinked with the environment, destroying natural ecosystems (dune fields, mangrove swamps, sandbanks) for the construction of resorts and hotels, and when privileging a mass tourism that doesn’t respect the carrying capacity, neither the needs, aspirations and sustainability concerns of communities of the tourist “destinations”, while privatizing territories expelling many communities towards unhealthy and unworthy urban areas it increases social and climatic injustice and the vulnerability of these communities with respect to the impacts of climate change. We will raise more awareness about the relationship between tourism and climate change in the current negotiations of the UN Convention on Climate Change.

We defend a kind of tourism, with a logic opposed to this current model of tourism and speculative real estate development that threatens the territories of traditional peoples, trying to transform nature enclaves and cultures into economic goods in the interest of big capital. In fact, with hope, self-determination and courage, several experiences based on networks are blooming in all continents, which clearly respect community-based and solidarity tourism, firmly guided by the respect of local cultures and the environment. These are legitimate expressions of struggle and resistance of communities against a conventional, unsustainable and exploitative tourism, the defense of their territories and natural resources, rescue and affirmation of their deep cultural expressions, and a means to strengthen their local and community organizations. These are experiences of a tourism model that values the way of life of those communities, narrowly linked to the ecosystems that guarantee their survival.

We call upon all citizens of the world to contribute to the consolidation of community-based, solidarity, just and sustainable tourism, through their organizations and as conscious consumers, and to produce and exchange knowledge and experiences; to defend public policies that seek the regulation of tourism, immediately stop public financing of tourism mega-enterprises and ensure the right of access of communities to the territory, of the constitutional and human rights of the communities to development and self-determination, as well as the rigorous application of the environmental legislation respecting biological and cultural diversity; and to support the resistance struggles in the whole world as well as the alternatives and concrete experiences of community-based and solidarity tourism.

Belém, 1 February 2009.

Brazilian Forum of NGOs and Social Movements for the Environment and
the Development (FBOMS), Argonautas Environmentalists of the Amazon,
EQUATIONS (India), Forum for the Defense of Ceara Coast, Institute
Terramar, TURISOL Network, TUCUM Network, Coopesolidar (Costa Rica),
Institute Vitae Civilis, Association for the Defense and the
Development of Kuelap (Peru), Alba Sud (Spain/Nicaragua), Association
for Responsible Tourism (Spain), Brazilian Institute for Consumers
Defense, Community Mapuche-Tehuelche Pu Fotum Mapu (Argentina),
Association Amigos of Prainha do Canto Verde (Switzerland).

For more information, contact:
FBOMS – Fórum Brasileiro de ONGs e Movimentos Sociais
para o Meio Ambiente e o Desenvolvimento
SCS, Quadra 08, Bloco B-50
Edifício Venâncio 2000, Sala 105
CEP 70333-900
Brasília, DF – Brasil
Fone: (61) 3033.5535 ou 3033.5545

Source: Tourism Investigation & Monitoring Team