Does tourism hurt the planet ? Economist, Thomas Friedman’s viewpoints

This months issue of National Geographic Traveler has an interview with Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist who writes about economic issues and is the author of the book The World is Flat. Keith Bellows, the editor of the magazine asked the questions.

One question dove into the idea of how much does tourism hurt the planet and what should be done about it. In Friedman’s mind, that depends on how tourism is conducted. If people travel without a thought in their heads about the environment, then even the smallest amount of travel can do much damage. But, if people remain cognizant of taking care, then the damage is minimized and travel offers more positives than negatives.

As he points out, and what we’ve learned here at Gadling from our own travels, travel makes places seem relevant so that people are more likely to want to take care of them if they’ve experienced them and the people who live there first hand. Learning about deforestation of the rain forest, for example, has more meaning if you’ve actually been in a rain forest.

Friedman did say that some attractions need more regulations, such as the Pyramids in Egypt. If people can walk all over them willy nilly than they will be destroyed for the rest of us. In my opinion, that’s why organizations like UNESCO’s World Heritage and the National Park Service are so important.

In Friedman’s interview, he also talked about how he and his wife have helped their two daughters grow into global citizens who like to travel. To read the article yourself, click here. Thanks to Intelligent Travel for pointing me to the article.