The following post was written by Tisch Center social media assistant Kanupriya Bhargava.
On Wednesday, March 5, Preston Robert Tisch Center students had the opportunity to hear from various panelists about Global Sustainable Tourism Development at an event held by the Ricelle “Bunny” Grossinger Distinguished Lecture Series in Tourism Management. The panel was moderated by Clinical Associate Professor Sharr Prohaska and Clinical Assistant Professor Lynn Minnaert, Ph.D.
Pegi Vail, an anthropologist, documentary filmmaker, and Associate Director of the Center for Media, Culture, and History at NYU began the panel by showing a preview of her documentary Gringo Trails. Through before and after footage of backpacker destinations, Vail reveals how the ethnography of backpackers has opened doors to the tourism industry in low-income countries over the years. It was shocking to see the contrast in footage between Haadrin Beach in 1979 and 1989, depicting the aftermath of a Full Moon New Year’s Eve party.
James MacGregor, President of Ecoplannet, shared his message to students, whom he also referred to as the “future of sustainable tourism.” He provided an eye-opening outlook on the diminishing tourism environment and made a call to action to strengthen sustainable tourism education platforms and resources and to ultimately develop a culture of sustainability.
Dr. Louise Twining-Ward, President of Sustainable Travel International, explained how sustainability is not only beneficial for the environment, but how it can be a good business practice. I found her acronym ABCD to be useful to follow not only in sustainability practice but also in life:
A: Acknowledge the problem
B: Believe you can change it
C: Create the tools
D: Demonstrate the results
Anna Clark, Communications Associate and Media Outreach for Rainforest Alliance, grabbed the audience’s attention with a highly entertaining video called “Follow the Frog”, which depicts a young man who discovers rainforests are in danger and decides to abandon his average and comfortable life to take an active part in saving the environment. The purpose of the film was to show that we don’t need to go to the ends of the world to save a rainforest, instead we can use Rainforest Alliance certified products and still make a difference. Additionally, the Alliance has certified over 190 million acres of land in support of the Rainforest Alliance, an impressive step to conserving our environment and social welfare.
The final speaker Eric Ricaurte, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Greenview, and a Tisch Center alumnus, challenged the audience to think about mass tourism in a new way. He urged us to “stop thinking about mass tourism as a niche, and instead as mainstream.” Ricaurte categorized the three different types of impacts left on a destination by a visitor as:
2) Energy and Water Consumption, and
Overall, the lecture was a terrific opportunity to discuss the important issues and developments in the global sustainable tourism industry. As a student, I was inspired to play a more active role in not only conserving the environment, but also in integrating these practices into my daily life.