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Tourism: splendid isolation?

When we think of holidays, we all imagine a deserted creek with crystal-clear waters; we can see ourselves on a rocky outcrop overhanging the mountains… An idyllic vision that is often far from reality, especially in the summer. In this era of Instagram and social networks, the race for the best photo can rapidly turn viral and attract hordes of visitors, to the extent that some sites are endangered.

Paradise lost

There are many examples of sites invaded by visitors, everywhere in the world. This is the case with Maya Bay, the legendary white sand beach on Koh Phi Phi Le island in Thailand, which was made popular in 2000 by Danny Boyle’s film “The Beach”, with Leonardo di Caprio, and then became a star via social media. Thailand’s National Parks Department took the radical decision to close the site until 2021, to allow the coral reefs massacred by the hordes of swimmers and boats to grow again. Another victim of its success is the spectacular site of Trolltunga in Norway, which attracts hikers from around the world, all seeking to photograph this extraordinary rocky outcrop overhanging Ringedal Lake 700 m below. The authorities have decided to close the site for a few months every year in order to protect it. There is also the Icelandic canyon of Fjadrargljufur, which went viral in 2016 following the filming of the I’ll Show You clip by Justin Bieber, which was closed for several months this spring to protect the vegetation during its growth period. Or the once-peaceful rue Crémieux in Paris. Even though it is situated in the 12th arrondissement, away from the main tourist attractions, its cobbles and colourful houses make it one of the most photographed places in the capital. 

It all starts with good intentions: enthusiastic travellers like to share their discoveries with their community on the social networks. But, and there is a but: with the geolocation function, a simple photo can attract thousands of visitors to places hitherto known only to the locals, where there are no facilities for dealing with mass tourism.

Maya Bay ©Rajavi-Omanee_TT
Trolltunga
Canyon de Fjaorargljufur ©Alamy

Raising community awareness

Fortunately, with a billion active users every month worldwide, Instagram is proving to be a powerful tool for information and awareness-raising.

The residents of rue Crémieux in Paris thus had the idea of creating a tongue-in-cheek account, @clubcremieux, to raise awareness among the community and condemn the unfortunate actions of disrespectful visitors. Another fun account is @insta_repeat which compiles the most photographed sites into mosaics.

Ecologist networks are also making their voices heard and are calling for a more responsible attitude to nature and the social networks, to prevent the perverse effects of geolocation on biodiversity. The WWF has thus just created a unique geolocation on Instagram for all destinations: “I Protect Nature”. The purpose: to raise user awareness regarding the protection of natural sites, by dissuading them from using the « add location » function when they are photographing a little patch of paradise.

ATR for more responsible tourism

Unlike wide-body jets, ATR turboprops can land on short, narrow and unpaved runways, requiring little ground infrastructure, thus being as respectful of the environment as possible. Plus, they burn 40% less fuel and emit 40% less CO2.

The team at Intolife wishes you all the best for your holidays…. whether in splendid isolation or not.

Photo credit image header : Trolltunga ©Scott Sporleder

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