Search This Blog

Monday, June 4, 2007

World Tourism Conference

A snail was climbing up a tree and met a woodpecker.
"Where are you going?", asked the woodpecker.
"I'm climbing up to eat the leaves at the top", the snail replied.
The woodpecker said,"But there aren't any left!"
The snail said, "Oh there will be by the time I get there..."

2 days of talks but a pretty cool start I thought. This year, much significance was given to issues of climate change and extreme poverty. But what I heard alot of was SUSTAINABILITY. Seems like the buzzword for this century now, it applies to everything under the sun from "ecosystems and erections to pizzas and politics" as quoted in The Marketing Code I'm currently reading. Sustainability is in fact the survival of things - if we just take and not give back, there's nothing left to take in time to come, right? So i won't call the snail tale a joke.

Well, this international conference was supposed to be held in Madrid so we were kinda lucky to have the chance to attend. But the biggest downer for alot of us was Richard Branson's absence. Put it this way, the only thing that caught my attention enough to remember was keynote speaker Geoffrey Lipman's humor to address his topic. But then again, which subject on animals or the environment wouldn't interest me?

Ever heard of the saying "This generation plants trees, next generation gets the shade"? Oh gosh I can go on and on dwelling into this issue plus all of the others related to it but let's not. Let's just say I'm just so glad Al Gore's movie The Inconvenient Truth is out. He is BRILLIANT!

Anyway, the conference was held at the Shang-ri-La and I had lots to eat at every break for the 2 days and had met some interesting people too! The first night, skipper and I were invited to the Minister of Tourism's official dinner at Mandarin Oriental.

Tengku Adnan (Minister of Tourism) & friend (Dato' Colin Chai)

Dato' Dr. Victor Wee (Secretary-General Tourism Malaysia)

The World Environment Week is aproaching and Langkawi is highlighted as the newly accorded UNESCO Geo-Park, marking Malaysia's quest in promoting it in conjunction with VMY 2007. However, plans to develop Tioman isn't all that music to our ears. We fear the negative effects on of course our coral reefs, but also Tioman losing its appeal as an unspoilt paradise. It is NOT a cliche, really Tioman IS a paradise island because till today, there's still no roads in and around Tioman. People on the island still travel from kampung to kampung either by boat or trek through the jungle. Now imagine this way of life transform into a mortar monstrosity of eye-sore duty-free shopping malls & coastal restaurants of's too cruel! Tioman's charming 'primordial' scene of village bliss is therefore very much at stake...

You know what it means when this debacle happens? Adding to the already despicable garbage problems left unresolved. Plastic bags and bottles and styrofoam 'ta pao' boxes are in the jungle, the rivers, the waterfalls and floating about at sea with bags and bags of this junk washed up on the beach everyday. Oh, not forgetting sewage. There's no guarantee that other resort owners or restaurant operators will take so much care in disposing human waste plus all the other by-products. Most often, people dump sewage into the sea - no-frills you know. So transforming a Robinson Crusoe paradise into a disneyland, there better be a system... a damn good one.

Tioman will also lose its identity hence niche if it is to be cloned into another Langkawi or Redang. Whether or not we're able to sustain our identity and preserve our niche, we can only hope. Scary... very scary.

Don't quite understand what sustainable development means? Think balancing an act....fulfilling human needs yes, but with the protection of the natural environment always in mind so that our needs can be met not only in the present, but in the indefinite future.

Sustainability requires that human activity only uses nature's resources at a rate at which they can be replenished naturally. Theoretically, the long term result of environmental degradation would be local environments that are no longer able to sustain human populations to any degree. Well, since resources run out, unless they're grow-able or can be recreated, perhaps developing sustainability in everything we do is the most practical way of thinking. But do people think? I guess it's human nature to take everything that's given to you free, for granted. The trees from the jungle are free, fishes from the sea also free but nothing's really free in life. You take some, you lose some - or all. Can we afford to pay such a hefty price in the end? What sort of legacy are we leaving behind for our children and children's children then?

No comments: