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GRINGO TRAILS: Exclusive Outbounding/NY Trav Fest Screening

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Source: GRINGO TRAILS: Exclusive Outbounding/NY Trav Fest Screening

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  • A great deal of reflection and research has obviously gone into the making of this film. Many stories are linked with similar themes running throughout. Although we may be shocked and sad and even guilty for that which is gone forever, we are given some hope that community driven tourism in many places could be controlled and benefit locals as well as visitors. Wonderful videography.

  • Excellent, thought-provoking film. Most of us believe that the democratisation of travel since the 60s been a good thing, but surely we now see that you can have too much of a good thing. We "travellers" are helping to choke the planet and destroy the very things and places we value most. What has become a daily mass movement of people sloshing around the globe, some looking for fun, others for a better life, is clearly unsustainable but probably also unstoppable. Sadly Sonja, it's hard to see community-driven tourism trumping big business and mass-market travel on a scale that would make a difference. Bhutan can control the number of visitors (for now) only because it's a tiny and closed society. And the problem simply moves elsewhere. It's a conundrum. Thanks for raising it by getting the film for us, a real coup. Must dash now, got a plane to catch!

  • Sonja, thank you for letting me know about Gringo Trails. I joined a Twitter chat last week on Sustainable Travel. Most of the responses to define good practice were: "Leave no trace". I pointed out that we always leave a trace. Perhaps by supporting community based tourism projects we can ensure that our traces are mainly positive, but we still need to think about the impact of our travel in order to arrive at the project, the impact of extra food and goods that may need to be imported to the project etc.
    Anyone interested in further reading on this topic may be interested in reading 'Final Call' by Leo Hickman.

  • Yes, excellent film. Really struck home for me as I'm just back from a couple of islands with twenty years between visits -- it's fair to say I've aged better than the islands, which truly is not a good result for them.

    In particular enjoyed the words by Pico Iyer and also Rolf Potts, though have to say I sadly do not share Iyer's optimism for the impact of future generations. At least in Southeast Asia the growth out of China in particular will only accelerate the "concreting over paradise" phenomenon -- it will decimate the traditional tourism here.

    Around the 1:11 mark a guide at the community project talks about how you can only eat the monkey once, and that really leapt out at me. His words highlight how, while you can work to educate/inform travellers/tourists all you want, at the end of the day it the people on the ground (be they locals or imports) who decide to eat the monkey. That's where the work really needs to focus, and, as illustrated in the film, can reap dividends. Empower local communities to determine their own future and that of their future generations. 

    Small steps.

  • But, Stuart, empowering locals to set the agenda and, along with it, make their own rules, is a HUUUUGE step (one long overdue), especially with so many rich and powerful devils perched on their shoulders and whispering temptation. 

  • Excellent documentary - thanks for sharing this with us. Sadly, I think the people most likely to watch it are those who need educating the least on responsible tourism. It would be amazing to see this film cut a bit differently (or simply extended) with some clear, educational rules woven through and then screened in schools around the western world. 

  • Well said, Charles. Yes, you're right. It's irreversible and big business always seems to win. And we as Westerners never stop travelling.  I am the eternal optimist for at least some areas that could improve or prevent big business in small ways. Although a very long-term effort has been going on in Costa Rica, it is a ray of hope for others. Chalalan, Bolivia is inspiring in the film but so many places have already lost their trees in their forests, perhaps forever.

    I'm not sure Bhutan's approach of only permitting the rich will really preserve their culture as the local people are certainly not untouched by the luxuries the visitors expose and their way of life imprinting on the local populations. Control is still possible for Bhutan through issuing a limited number of Visas for a broader demographic and still manage the tourism industry. It makes one wonder if there is not greed involved in this policy as there is certainly elitism.

    One reason I chose teaching university tourism students was to make my small contribution to their way of thinking (literally 1'000s of them over a decade) about how it could be different but I know it's a long ways off and will never be what we would absolutely prefer. All we have is hope...and at least that...

    Thanks for sharing your very astute analysis, Charles. We're glad that you enjoyed the film.

  • Fantastic documentary that addresses an issue that needs serious attention. It's message aligns so well with Outbounding's manifesto too! I feel that it begs the question of how we can help travellers to be better educated on the impact that they are having on the places they're visiting. 

    I watched this a couple of days ago and I've been thinking about how one of the women interviewed (the who went to Timbuktu) talks about how selfish and naive her perspective was. I see the same sense of entitlement in myself and in the travellers that I send all over the world everyday as a travel agent. 

    While it may be too late for places like Haad Rin, it is heartening to think we can learn as a global community to look after our precious planet. Loved this doco - really impressive.

  • So glad that you joined in the discussion, John, and saw the film There are so many dimensions to all of the positive and negative aspects and we appreciate hearing from you. Thanks so much for recommending the Leo Hickman book. Much appreciated.

  • Excellent documentary indeed! Just finished watching and my mind is still spinning. This has been some really thoughtful insight and quite some food for thought. I think every single traveller and every single person involved in tourism should watch this film!! I will also consider knocking up a wee write-up to spread the word. Most fascinating and thank you so much for the opportunity to watch Gringo Trails!

  • Great documentary which holds a mirror up to the travel community, including travelers past, present, and future, to travel writers, and to those who profit from abroad or locally, are victims locally or from abroad, or are innocent and often idealistic observers. Human nature knows no geographical bounds, and narcissistic cultural imperialism can be quite destructive, just as can  fundamentalism of all kinds and origins worldwide.

    The primary hope, as I see it, lies in education on all sides, as action without reflection and enlightenment in tourism tends to lead to desecration, as this film clearly demonstrated. And heroes of all kinds are born, find enlightenment, and forge positive change in tourism every day, even in the face of rampant consumerism.

    Nice admixture of quotes sprinkled throughout the narrative, with the director staying "out of the way" just enough to allow for speculative questions to be evoked.

    Much to say, so I will write a review of this fine film.