Tourist Thursday – There IS more we can do, 4/18/19

Yes, there is more we can do. A beginning is to work together as stakeholders to assure we have a destination stewardship plan for Big Sur. This work originally started in May of 2016 before all hell broke lose with fires and landslides. It was resurrected in 2018 and several planning sessions were held which included representatives from county, state, and federal governments and agencies which all have a stake in this area, as well representatives from Monterey County Visitors & Convention Bureau, local chamber of commerce, and local residents.

At a future date, CABS (formerly CPOA) will be sponsoring a community meeting on creating a destination stewardship plan for Big Sur (details will be provided in a subsequent post) and one of the speakers/facilitators will be Costas Christ.

From The Advocate last year:

Cities dependent on tourism, such as New Orleans, need to rethink their approach to that industry lest they lose the very people and culture that make them unique and attract millions of visitors, according to an expert who will be talking here Saturday about how to balance attracting travelers and protecting the attributes that make communities unique.

Costas Christ, a consultant and activist on sustainable tourism practices, said the key is to find a balance between luring visitors and protecting the needs of residents and the aspects that make cities unique.

“Tourism should not be about conquering a destination,” he said in an interview. “It should be about enhancing a destination.”

Christ is a leading advocate for sustainable tourism and one of the founding members of the eco-tourism movement that inspired it.

That movement involves a push to get travelers to approach natural attractions in environmentally sensitive ways so as not to destroy them — something that Christ says applies equally well to cities as to the Galapagos Islands.

“Why shouldn’t the entire tourism industry be thinking about its impact on issues such as the environment, on cultural heritage, on local people’s livelihoods?” he asked.

The challenge is to change an entire industry, particularly here in California, so that the emphasis is not on “more” tourists but on better experiences for tourists, making sure  that these experiences are balanced with the needs of the local community and the environment that hosts all. It can and must be done. It is not just a “Sustainable Moment” that must be obtained, it is a “Sustainable Future” for the environment, the community, and the visitor.

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