Tourism must benefit all to be sustainable
John Clark writes…
First published: July 2006 – Gazette & Herald
‘Words mean whatever you want them to mean’. The pair of words that have taken Alice’s view to the extreme are Sustainable and Development. The Oxford English Dictionary has 12 meanings for Sustainable and 10 meanings for Development. As if that was not enough, the Government, Think Tanks and others have added their meanings. Sustainable Development has become meaningless.
In March 2005, the government’s definition of Sustainable Development included economic, social and environmental strands. The environmental description is defined as ‘living within environmental limits’. The social strand is defined as ‘meeting the diverse needs of all people in existing and future communities, promoting personal wellbeing, social cohesion and inclusion, and creating equal opportunity for all.’
Problems arise when this is put into practice. Tourism is a perfect example. Sustainable Tourism is defined as ‘a level of tourism activity that can be maintained over the long term because it results in a net benefit for the social, economic, natural and cultural environment of the area in which it takes place’.
From Ryedale perspective we have of course gone into partnership. A partnership between Ryedale, Hambleton, Scarborough and the North York Moors National Park. The partnership has produced a plan proudly trumpeting the UK’s achievements:
- 59% increase in trips in the 1990s
- 34% increase in holiday trips
- A continued move to more short and additional holidays
- 53% increase in domestic business trips
A clear impression that there is no concept of a ‘level of activity that can be maintained’.
The partnership aims to attract business and overseas tourists. They aim to attract AB&C1’s between the ages of 25 and 64. Upper middle class, middle class and lower middle class are all to be welcomed. This implies that the skilled manual workers, casual and lowest grade workers, state pensioners and even widows are not to be encouraged to holiday in Ryedale. The absolute opposite of the social part of Sustainable Development. It destroys a ‘strong healthy and just society’.
Poorer people pay Council Tax and thus support the Area Tourism Partnership. If it were not for the Council Tax support, the Area Tourism Partnership would not exist. Poorer people are also employed by Tourism. Tourism would hardly survive if it were not for the ‘casual and lowest grade workers’.
If the working classes took their labour, their custom or their Council Tax away then the Tourist Industry would collapse. Maybe they ought to be valued as customers or, better still, with higher wages.