Be ahead by being slow!

I read somewhere that the best way to kill your dreams is to be too busy. Too busy to be able to fulfil certain things in life, too busy to nurture the relationships you have with friends and family, too busy to really think twice about the choices you make, so busy our choices become unsustainable just as our consumptionpatterns, which makes us discount the future in exchange of satisfying ourselves today in our present busyness.  If you are too busy you will also miss so many opportunities that are thrown at you, you are more likely to forget what your real dreams are, and pity you might only realise it when its too late.  Therefore busyness is a threat to ourselves and our surrounding natural and social environment, hence we need to slow down! Something that caught my immediate attention was  the notion of Slow Tourism. Soneva Fushi in the Maldives have a concept called “Slow Life” where their main strategy is to run the Resort in a way that does not have a negative affect on the natural and social environment it is operating in. Then I read about Ron Mader’s philosophy about ‘Think smart, travel Slow’ . It all makes sense and guess what, this is nothing new, it derives from the Italian  Slow food movement but the philosophy has just been applied to a different genre.

Going on a holiday can be more stressful then staying at home sometimes. Limited time and money makes people go mainstream, travel fast, just look at the international bustourists in their freenzie to do and see everything. They have approximately 10 days holiday (correct me if Im wrong) and in those 10 days they often squeeze in many different countries in one tour. Of the money they spend on their holiday back home to their touroperator a very very small amount will actually trickle down to the local communities in which the busses visits. In masstourism like this consumers are separated from the product which masks the social, cultural and environmental consequences of its production. At the same time as you dont know in whos hands your money will end up you neither really get to experience the authenticity of the country and its culture.

With Slow Tourism we do not always slow down the pace but what it does is that is promotes to a large extent local inclusiveness and promotes etchical initiatives. It goes hand in hand with Ecotourism and Pro-poor tourism and it aims to benefit local communities and limit the environmental pressure. I am not saying it does not have ecological footprints because it has, I mean the dilemma and contradictions involved in modern travels must also be acknowledged, however Slow Tourism is not close to the extent to that of what negative impacts masstourism creates.  Slow tours enhances the unique and educational experience for the traveller and it colours the travels in ways you could never imagine. We need a shift from old destructive travelpatterns and embrace the slow travels for a more sustainable future in tourism.

For more infoirmation about Slow Tourism visit Slow Tourism Travel for a Lower Carbon Future and The case for slow tourism. These two essays have both food for thought.

/ Eva Alm