One of my earlier blogs was on 'overtourism' and how it affects many countries and their locals. It has polluted many heritage sites, causing severe damage to them, created nuisance to the locals and more than anything carbon emissions adding to global climate change. In contrast to this today we shall talk about 'UNDERTOURISM’.
WHAT IS UNDERTOURISM?
UNDERTOURISM means places that are least explored or having very less number of visitors. The reasons and causes for this are many but we have mentioned here the most strong ones. One of the main reason is the distance. The undertourism countries are very far to visit making travel very hectic. The other reason is that they are not transit countries. If they were in the frequently travelled routes, they would have had many tourists visiting their places. Another reason is, due to their distance the travel cost increases, requiring 3 - 4 flights thus increasing the trip cost. Online articles, news, blogs and influencers are some of the ways to attract tourists but at the same time if they happen to be negative it will definitely not attract tourists. False propaganda and negative publicities by various organizations and media puts these countries in jeopardy. The articles throw the countries into bad light. It is not surprising that in this internet age, it is very easy for people to write stories without being physically present at various travel destinations. The real facts are not mentioned adding fuel to fire. When I moved from New Zealand to Uganda, my whole perception about Africa changed. Uganda gave me easy access to other neighboring countries such as Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and more. In short they are all simply beautiful, scenic, exotic locations with classy hotels, if one is willing to pay the price which is on the higher side. Most of these high end hotels are in tune with the current trend of being eco friendly and sustainable too. You will not be dissatisfied with the condition of the hotels if opting for 3star and above. The backpackers and low budget ones are ok and manageable but you need to be a bit careful while choosing them. The only thing lacking in most of these countries are no proper infrastructure such as good roads. Everything else is just enough to spoil a tourist, who has decided to treat himself with an adventurous, bold and wild African trip.
Other reasons which are unpredictable and cannot be avoided are natural calamities such as earthquakes, cyclones and hurricanes. These have brought down countries to nil overnight. Just to name a few: the earthquakes in Nepal, hurricanes in Dominica,Haiti, Mozambique and Thailand brought down the countries to level zero overnight. The destruction and loss was unimaginable, for which the countries were not prepared. Sometimes if it’s of high intensity the loss of lives and destruction to infrastructures such as buildings ,and, road collapses adds to the misery. This breaks down the country citizens not only emotionally, mentally and physically but also financially. To get back to normalcy it takes a lot of time and money. Rebuilding the ruined roads and buildings is too much of a burden for the developing countries. If tourists are willing to visit soon after the calamities strike (which normally does not happen, it’s only volunteers) then they are able to make up their losses but otherwise is very difficult Sustainable tourism is that which has to be balanced, after all what is the fun and joy in going to places where all go, instead there is more to explore. The world is still not completely explored there’s lots to see. The weight of the tourists should be shifted to one where it is less, where there is no overcrowding of tourists and the place is calm and peaceful. That’s the reason why we all take a break and go travelling to rejuvenate ourselves and relax, in order to be ready and bounce back into our schedules again.
The last and final reason which I wouldn’t really like to talk about but should is man made, such as terrorist activities, wars and civil unrest. In some cases fear of kidnappings. The bombings in Sri Lanka saw a massive loss to tourism and so were other countries like Morocco, Egypt and Jordan just to name a few. For these countries to hit the list of 'safe to travel' countries it takes very long sometimes even ages. The terrorist activities brings down a country to shambles and hundreds lose their jobs overnight.
EFFECTS OF UNDERTOURISM
Undertourism has brought more harm to several countries than overtourism. If tourism is balanced and practiced sustainably it could help several countries to alleviate poverty. Undertourism affects a country’s GDP and their employment rate. Many governments depend on the revenue generated through tourism to preserve and conserve places of interest: no revenue means no conservation on places of interest and hence losing them. Without this revenue, appointing security staff and systems including monitoring becomes difficult which indirectly increases poaching. Having a watch becomes impossible. Apart from poaching consuming of the endangered species meat or bushmeat increases due to poverty. If there is no tourism many jobs are lost. Cab drivers, chefs, cleaners, guides and others directly or indirectly linked to tourism are lost. Countries are forced to pay staff their wages without getting any returns from tourism.
A BALANCED & SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL IS TRAVELING TO UNDERTOURISM PLACES
Most of these places are very beautiful, adventurous, silent, clean and more than anything you are wanted there. You are all most welcomed there. One will not find overcrowded hotels and lodges and no price increase during seasons and no additional entertainment taxes. This in turn will compensate for the extra flights that one takes to travel to these places. You won’t find tired and unfriendly staffs. It is worth every penny spent as you can enjoy the scenic beauties and blend and gel with the local environment, and be one among it. You find the peace and quietness where you can hear the sound of the birds and animals, listen to their calls and hear them communicate. Most of the tourist destinations are eco friendly and not spoilt by the growing crowd, or pollution. Birds and animals are not chased away by the bustling and honking of people and their automobiles. Apart from that there is very little chance of these places getting spoilt in future due to overtourism, the countries know how to strategize as they have seen how countries are overcrowded and have understood and learnt how to tackle it.
Travelling to undertourism countries is a sensible and sustainable way to travel and safer with the current pandemic too. You don’t have to hold back your urge to travel thinking about sustainability, cause you still can. Currently many undertourism countries are taking advantage of the pandemic and advertising, inviting tourists to their beautiful locations. These countries need travelers and believe me most of these lesser known and unpopular places are more like heaven on Earth and unspoilt. You as a tourist to these countries could help alleviate poverty. The revenue will help them in advertising and marketing their countries tourism, apart from preservation and conservation. Tourism helps protect the animals and nature from illegal activities. With concentration on ecotravel and sustainability, many tourists have the knowledge and try to follow eco friendly ways , which has forced countries to protect their environment and marine lives to attract tourists. Turning towards sustainability has given rise to millions of new jobs and the locals are able to sustain themselves. If undertourism continues there are chances that we might lose many marine lives such as coral reefs, plants and animals, rainforests, eco parks and more than anything the beauty of the country itself. More than 100 million people are likely to lose their jobs if this continues along with a loss of trillions of dollars. Travelling to some undertourism places also has other benefits, for the price of your trip to overtourism location you can afford an entire island to yourself. A private jet or boat to drop you and pick you up. Your own private chef and a luxury car of your choice and more.
Tourism is the second largest sector after mining to contribute towards employment and national GDP of many countries. For the few years importance has been given not only to land conservation but also marine. Some of the island countries are part of the Pristine Seas program, launched by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Enric Sala, in the year 2008. This program is to explore the wild places in the oceans, saving every last places in the marine world. Through this program more than 22 marine places covering over 5 million square kilometers have been saved and protected. But the pandemic has hit really hard as the drop in tourism revenue has made it unable to continue protecting these areas.
Here I would like to mention Palau an island nation. They found innovative ways to go sustainable in order to attract tourists. Sustainability may be the buzz word or a trend but it is currently a necessity and more tourists are increasingly becoming aware of it. Travelling to Palau from the West is very difficult,but their snorkeling and diving activities does attract a lot of people but not enough. The same with Vanuatu, this island attracts tourists for being the first country to have an underwater post office but still not enough to generate the kind of revenue required. Getting back to Palau, to go sustainable the island nation had to lose a lot and face a lot of difficulties but with a strong will their citizens together decided to go sustainable. Their then President Remengesau understanding that tourism is the main source of income came up with many strategies that attracts higher-value tourism. One of their strategies was to protect 80% of their exclusive economic zone, but to do this they had to give up their revenue from foreign fishing licences. For a small island country such as Palau it meant losing a lot trying to protect their marine places ,but, if tourists are not visiting their country then how can they sustain themselves? The revenue generated from tourism should help compensate the loss they are facing by stoping marine activities. If this continues they will be under pressure to call back the international fishing licences. Palau's marine protected areas are currently not having any fishing or mining activities, a project executed with the help of Pristine Seas. Nearly half a million square kilometers MPAs (Marine Protected Area) making it one of the largest marine protected areas. It has been a very big move by them in order to save the country for future generations but may not be able to continue if there is no boost in tourism.
Tourism to these destinations helps millions of lives, restore and protect damaged environment and nature, gives hope to locals, explain their history, bring places and people back from the brink. Some might say that not travelling may be sustainable to protect the planet from pollution and climate crisis but it is not so. No tourists means losing many of these beautiful destinations just like other lost cities and submerged places we see only in pictures or hear from various sources. To protect the planet a sustainable, balanced and responsible travel is a must. So before you travel make a thorough search for the least travelled places, know their visa conditions, vaccinations if any and chose your lodges carefully. Till then hope you have a nice and wonderful trip to the least travelled destinations. Below are a list of some of the countries you can visit but not limited to this. Another request before I end is to those who would like to make videos or films please do research and have these places in mind, you will be part of the group to help save this piece on the planet.
SOME PLACES YOU CAN VISIT
Some of the places one can visit are
1) Haiku stairs in Hawaii,
2) Ladakh in Himalayas,
3) Apostle islands in Wisconsin,
4) World’s largest salt flat in Bolivia,
5) Mou Waho Island
Hideaway in a small oasis surrounded by dunes in Huacachina, for those with the adventure spirit in New Zealand, Cook islands islands rentals, Saba Dutch carribean which has colorful coral reefs, Guimaraes, Brussels, Kep, Trieste, Kuelap, nauru, tuvalu, Kiribati, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Tonga,East Timor, Lichenstein,Marshall islands, Montserrat, Niue, American Samoa, Solomon islands, comoros, Sao time and Principe, federated states of Micronesia, Djibouti, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Tonga, Anguilla, Timor leste, st.vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Dominica, Vanuatu, st.kitts andnevis, New Caledonia, Eritrea and Moldova