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Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development Forum

Holding developers and governments accountable.

Posted By: Hari Baral
Date: Monday, 10 April 2000, at 10:03 a.m.

In Response To: Who is responsible for tourism's negative impacts on the environment? (+franšais) (Mali Voi)

There is no single authority who can be held accountable for the negative effects of tourism, particularly in developing countries and especially at fragile coastal sites. Uncontrolled tourism development on coastal sites bordering shallow continental shelves and fragile coral reefs is a major problem. We have now invented a safety word to hide this damaging tourism activity, calling it "ECOTOURISM".

The development of most tourism sites has hardly followed any real impact evaluation process. Neither the tourists nor the developers are held responsible for long term damage to the fragile coastal ecosystems. We have never imposed any sorts of obligatory insurance on either of them. Instead the government authorities and particularly the local people have to bear the result of the damage caused by the tourists.

Very often local authorities look to the short term financial gain as the sole decision making argument in favour of tourism development. Even institutions like the World Bank promote such projects without any real, in-depth impact analysis of tourism development on the fragile coastal areas of developing countries (e.g. the recent development of a large intensive tourism site at the "Bay Da Lang" in Vietnam).

Therefore, it is the government and the investors who should be held responsible for the negative effects of tourism. It is time to develop a policy of heavy taxation and compulsory damage insurance that developers would have to pay for each tourism development site, particularly the fragile natural sites.

Hari Baral
Vice President,
International Society of City and Regional Planners.

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