Editorial: There has been a remarkable surge in global tourism over the past few years. Today tourism is considered to be one of the fastest growing economic sectors in the world and closely linked to development.
Tourism’s impact can be both positive and negative and the UN World Tourism Organization sets aside a day each year—September 27—to raise awareness about this.
In 2011, their message was that “thanks to tourism, millions of people from different cultures are being brought together around the world like never before”. I thought about that when preparing this issue of Riding the buses for two articles are by a Ukrainian woman who made her first visit to North America this summer. Her name is Antonia Grinchenko and she came here as a guest of one of our regular contributors, Barbara Reinhardus. Antonia was Barbara’s interpreter when she was on assignment in the Ukraine. Antonia tells us about her city of Kiev and her impressions of Canada. Both impressions held surprises for me, which probably speaks to the ‘different cultures’ that the UNWTO was talking about.
Niagara Falls was the top Canadian site for Antonia, so fitting since the World Tourism theme this year is Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future. Water is one of tourism’s most precious resources and mass tourism can lead to its “unbridled consumption”, as described in this article about Bali in The Guardian.
Countries such as Canada have not been immune to environmental degradation. Niagara Falls, known for its beauty, was once filled with garbage, sewage and industrial chemicals. Niagara Falls straddles the Canada-US border and it was not until the fish began to die that the countries got serious about cleaning up the mess and enforcing environmental safeguards.
Thankfully, Canada and the United States did a much better job at the International Peace Park that also shares a common boundary. It’s in the west where “the mountains meet the prairies”, a place where wild animals are free to roam and ignore political borders. The park is also a feature this month and a fitting tribute to World Tourism day.
Sylvia Fanjoy, co-founder and editor
Photo credit Barbara Reinhardus
© Riding the buses 2013