Fancy a revival of tourism? Here are 10 suggestions to change the way you travel

The mass tourism craze has slowed over the past two years as COVID-19 has canceled most bookings. Now beware of the resumption of post-pandemic travel.

A return to the over-tourism and overcrowding of the past will lead to diminishing returns in the future, as I argued in my weekend column. Why travel all over the world only to find yourself surrounded by your fellow travelers, stuck in the same queues in the same tourist traps, only to feel like you’ve never left home?

As promised, here is my list of the 10 best tourist getaways to get off the beaten track. This is not a list of must-see destinations, nor a list of exotic resorts – I don’t approve, I’m just listing the improved and excited new market segments.

For better or for worse, here’s how to get around mass tourism through niche tourism:

Ecotourism sells itself as the most virtuous of journeys. Using the power of modern marketing, it is possible to persuade tourists that their eco-jet travel is saving the planet’s environment. But a typical intercontinental flight produces two tonnes of carbon dioxide per passenger each way, roughly the output of driving your car for a full year. Once on the ground, an ecotourist consumes more water in a week than a villager drinks in a year, draining the local water table from their expensive restaurant tables.

Animal tourism is a close cousin of ecotourism. It is uncrowded and exclusive, but can also be expensive and exploitative. It brings you closer to nature, but sometimes exposes animals to abuse. Overall, however, a wildlife park or reserve helps keep animals free from poaching and development encroachment.

Adventurism tourism (or adven-tourism) may be more affordable than a safari – or not. Heli-trekking is an expensive excursion in the extreme, but climbing Mount Everest could break your fortune – and your bones, too. Far from the Himalayan peaks, the problem is that there are too many hikers on the beaten track, leaving little money behind as trash and empty bottles pile up.

Cultural tourism is at the top of my list. Most of us would probably say that’s why we travel. It might be a cliché, but we’re curious about other people’s cultures – not just monks and monasteries, but music and museums, cricket matches and sumo fights.

Educative tourism is a close cousin of cultural travel. I have led several trips across the Middle East for the New York Times Journeys which relied on former foreign correspondents as “experts” to lecture on the road on history and culture. politics, politics and religion, with trips to local theaters, college campuses and newsrooms. The trips – to Iran, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon – were not just touristy but journalistic. The Smithsonian, Academic Travel, and National Geographic offer similar trips.

Political-historical tourism comes in all colors: “red” tourism has taken root throughout China, where die-hard communists don the combat gear of the People’s Liberation Army to relive the Long March or to revel in the days. glory of the People’s Republic under its founder, Mao Zedong. American history buffs also flock to the battlefields of the Civil War, dressing in military gear to reenact famous battles. The Lincoln Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington are traditional historic destinations. The same goes for the mausoleums exhibiting the embalmed bodies of the Communist pantheon (I saw Mao in Beijing, Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi and Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang).

Volun-tourism This is where volunteering and tourism intersect. Well-meaning and wealthy tourists donate their time, pay their own way and contribute to the cause. What happens when unskilled Western teenagers show up to show locals how to build a school with sacks of dollars? Volunteers can be voyeurs. Before collapsing into controversy, WE Charity of Canada specialized in these overseas excursions. In truth, it takes a village. From what I have seen on the ground, the locals are far from helpless – unless the volunteer visitors from far away make them feel that way.

Culinary tourism is not just for serious gourmets. Destination restaurants have long been a staple for tourists in Paris or Rome. It is no longer just a matter of tasting but of cooking. Bangkok Cooking Classes in Petra invite tourists to cook their own dinner. Revenues are expected to exceed $ 2 billion within six years. I would also recommend tea tourism – I wrote about the tea plantations in the highlands of Candy in Sri Lanka and Assam in India.

LGBTQ + tourism underlies pride parades around the world. But the challenge for gay, lesbian and trans travelers is that many destinations remain no-go zones. Most countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia remain firmly in the closet. Meanwhile, Canada was tied for first place as an LGTBQ + destination, according to the Spartacus Gay Travel Index. Which means, for better or for worse, that there is no place like home.

Spiritual tourism was originally mass tourism. During my missions, I have covered pilgrimages for people of all faiths – Hindus in the Ganges in Varanasi, Sikhs at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Buddhists at the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Jews at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Christians at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and Shia Muslims at the Shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, Iran. In Jerusalem – holy for Christians, Jews and Muslims – the spiritual can become political and logistical. In God we travel.

Taken together, these are the market niches that the travel industry is desperately trying to develop before the big rebound. Ideally, this allows the sweet tooth and believer to go their own way and do their own thing.

While boutique travel can support mass tourism, it won’t get you far. It saves you time and space for yourself, but it doesn’t come cheap.

It redistributes crowds, but does not reduce overall numbers. It relieves individual stress, but not the cumulative stress on the planet.

With more than two billion annual trips planned within a decade, how can we make mass tourism more sustainable for visitors, visitors and places? Final thoughts to come in my concluding column this weekend on the ups and downs of travel.

Stay tuned, stay safe, travel safe.

Martin Regg Cohn is a Toronto columnist specializing in Ontario politics and international affairs for The Star. Follow him on Twitter: @reggcohn

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