Thursday, March 08, 2007

Avoid The Absurd

Should travel writers/journalists/bloggers mention sites or attractions which are not environmentally friendly? In a world that believes that “any publicity – even bad – is good publicity,” should we even mention the unethical, unfriendly, and disturbing destinations? Should journalists be gatekeepers of the unseemly? Or do we just report everything?

What got me thinking is the abominable new Grand Canyon Skywalk on the Hualapai Indian reservation in Arizona. This weird structure offends me deeply, yet the attitude of the tribe is that, like publicity, “all tourism is good tourism.”

The quotes former Grand Canyon superintendent Robert Arnberger as saying, “I think it’s a real travesty ... it desecrates the very place the Hualapai hold so dear.” Of course, tribal leaders contend such comments are elitist, or worse. Hualapai Tribal Council Chairman Charlie Vaughn said such criticism comes from “people ... eating tofu and pilaf and sitting in Phoenix with their plasma-screen TVs. Our tribe started in these canyons. We’ve always been here, and we’ll always be here.”

So, if I dislike the Skywalk desecration, should I even mention it? Should I tell people about it but urge them not to go there? Should I let folks make their own decisions? The question would be easier to answer if the news hadn’t already been splashed across every travel media in the U.S., but it has. Yes, sadly, everything has been found. So, I guess by posting this, I’ve set myself firmly in the camp of “Tell About It, But Don’t Recommend It.”

Please avoid the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Speak with your pocketbooks. Don’t support industrial, exploitative tourism. There are hundreds of similar travesties around the planet. Avoid them all and send a message to their makers and keepers.