Tourist Trap: The Risks and Rewards of the Global Travel Industry

Tourist Trap: The Risks and Rewards of the Global Travel Industry
A man plays an accordion in front of the “lovelocks” left by tourists on the Pont des Artes, Paris, Sept. 6, 2013 (photo by Flickr user Ben Francis, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic).

Tourism and travel are usually seen as what people do when taking time off from real life. An industry built on beach resorts and ski chalets, bus tours of the Eiffel Tower and African safaris doesn’t seem to rise to the same level of concern as burst oil pipelines or illegal logging in the Amazon.

Yet considered as an industry, global travel and tourism is the world’s largest employer; would rank as the fifth-largest carbon emitter if it were a country; is second only to energy as the favored strategy for developing nations trying to rise out of poverty; is credited with saving Europe from a deeper recession after the global financial crisis; is blamed for ills ranging from the environmental destruction of coral reefs, fragile coastal habitats and old-growth forests to the spreading of child prostitution and the upending of local cultures; and represents 9.5 percent of global GDP.

Nevertheless, the global travel and tourism industry is rarely discussed in serious economic or diplomatic conferences as a contributing factor or potential solution to global crises.

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