“Sustainable Moments” is the current mantra of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau. (https://www.seemonterey.com/regions/big-sur/big-sur-sustainable/) and it has become the newest “buzz” word world-wide for tourism that is threatening some of our most beautiful and pristine places on the planet. What does it really mean?
SUSTAINABLE – ADJECTIVE
Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.
Able to be upheld or defended.
MOMENT – NOUN
•. A very brief period of time
• (formal) importance.
So, by this catchy phrase, do they mean, maintain at at certain rate or level for a short period of time, which would be giving the terms their common or ordinary definition? Or do the mean to uphold or defend an important or significant interest? Do the MCCVB and the Big Sur community mean different things under this marketing lingo?
What about “sustainable tourism?” How is that defined?
Sustainable tourism is an industry committed to making a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate future employment for local people.The positive of sustainable tourism is to ensure that development is a positive experience for local people; tourism companies; and tourists themselves.
Management of Sustainable Tourism (Wikipedia)
“There has been the promotion of sustainable tourism practices surrounding the management of tourist locations by locals or the community. This form of tourism is based on the premise that the people living next to a resource are the ones best suited to protecting it. This means that the tourism activities (including marketing) and businesses are developed and operated by local community members, and certainly with their consent and support. Sustainable tourism typically involves the conservation of resources that are capitalized upon for tourism purposes. Locals run the businesses and are responsible for promoting the conservation messages to protect their environment….
The use of local knowledge also means an easier entry level into a tourism industry for locals whose jobs or livelihoods are affected by the use of their environment as tourism locations. Environmentally sustainable development crucially depends on the presence of local support for a project. It has also been noted that in order for success projects must provide direct benefits for the local community….
[P]artnerships between governments and tourism agencies with smaller communities is not particularly effective because of the disparity in aims between the two groups, i.e. true sustainability versus mass tourism for maximum profit. In Honduras such a divergence can be demonstrated where consultants from the World Bank and officials from the Institute of tourism wanted to set up a selection of 5-star hotels near various ecotourism destinations. But another operating approach in the region by USAID and APROECOH (an ecotourism association) promotes community-based efforts which has trained many local Hondurans. Mader concluded that the grassroot organisations were more successful in Honduras.”
Our challenge is that the “sustainable tourism” experience is no longer. It is NOT a positive experience for the Big Sur environment nor for the Big Sur community and is therefore an oxymoron and a mere marketing tool with no real value. The entire Monterey Peninsula capitalizes on the lure and attraction of the Big Sur coast, BUT it does not include the Big Sur Community at large in the decisions and management practices that it employs. I am not implying that the MCCVB does not have a role in promoting the entire Monterey County, including Big Sur, as a tourist destination, and I do feel we can work together, but I am saying this MUST be Big Sur community based endeavor, NOT just a token consult with the community, or this is not sustainable tourism for Big Sur. The community is in the best position to be able to determine what is sustainable, and regardless of catchy phrases, we have long passed beyond the limits of sustainability. As I pointed out at the last Forum of the MCCVB on their “Sustainable Moments” campaign, they have it backwards. Infrastructure must be developed to serve the tourist industry BEFORE we strive to increase the level of tourism. We, the Big Sur community, and We, the Big Sur environment, cannot create a positive tourist experience if we don’t have the means to make it positive. In sum, it is time to organize the Big Sur Community – all its diverse parts into a whole that can best address all the various issues pertaining to visitors. That is the next step, and that is what we currently need to work on. What sustainable ideas might you have for creating a balance between quality of environment, community quality of life, and tourists’s quality of experience?
Here is a great 3 minute video worth watching. (I tried to download and embed and ran into technical difficulties.) Make sure you watch both parts. It appears finished after part 1 due to blank screen and a seemingly long pause in this instant society, but it is not. There is a part 2.
Around noon this afternoon, a cliff rescue was underway near the Coast Gallery. Apparently, a tourist had fallen down the cliff while taking photographs. Around 12:30, rescuers were speaking with the individual, but hadn’t gotten that person up the side of the cliff. I have no information about the nature of any injuries.
Please be aware when visiting our coast, that climbing on our rocks on the side of the road is ill-advised. Mountain Goats and Condors excepted. It is usually a v-e-r-y long way down.
Thanks Allan Groves for the eyewitness account.