Photo courtesy of CIFOR via Flickr.
Today’s humans are living, breathing, and traveling in a unique era defined by both environmental peril and technological promise.
Improvements in technology are a source of constant amazement and innovation, enriched by hyper-fast communication and medical advancements that save lives across the world. But simultaneously, and in some ways, as a result, the Earth is under more environmental stress than ever.
These trends together point toward an increasingly strange landscape for humanity, which may be heading in a direction both marvelous and dangerous.
It makes perfect sense that tourism is rising to meet these rapid changes. New methods of travel take into account what’s evolving about the world in order to provide travelers with vacations very relevant to our global — and in some cases, interstellar — situation.
Here are four emerging types of tourism that will likely see growth in a world in both rapid advancement and looming decline.
Ecotourism takes travelers on low-impact trips to environmentally fragile areas of the world, untouched by humanity. It has utilized a “no harm” approach to tourism since the 1980s.
But sustainable tourism, the natural next step, seeks to only leave positive impacts on a destination’s environment, society, and economy. This means not just being low-impact, like ecotourism, but respecting local customs, purchasing local products to boost the economy, and enhancing human rights and local opportunities.
Tourism today remains a product of affluence and peace, but in the case of war or financial crisis, or worse, environmental destruction, cyber tourism could become an ideal (and affordable) alternative to physical travel.
3D virtual tourism options, which are growing in popularity, may thrive most of all by providing experiences not available in the physical world. That’s right, we’re talking time travel, or even space travel without the risks.
Projects allowing ancient Pompeii and prehistoric worlds to be toured and explored have already been funded, for example.
Speaking of space, many believe it to be the final frontier of tourism. If the Earth were to become uninhabitable for any reason, space would be our only hope — so it’s no wonder options for touring the beyond are close to fruition.
There have been less than a dozen space tourists so far, each having paid over $20 to $40 million for their trip to and from the International Space Station. Private companies are eying the industry, as well: notably, Virgin Galactic has sold tickets to space for $250,000. Those who have purchased them (Hi, Justin Bieber) anxiously await its first mission.
Lastly and most morbidly, doom tourism is essentially a last-chance travel experience that allows tourists to visit endangered places and species before they are wiped from the planet forever. Dramatic, certainly, but a reality nonetheless.
Also called extinction tourism, companies have been offering such packages since 2008, looking to capitalize off of human desire to see endangered creatures before they’re gone.
It’s debatable whether doom tourism is a good or bad thing; proponents say it pays the bills that fund conservation and inspirez passion in travelers for the planet and its creatures.
Others call it perverse and bad for the environment. This may not always be the case, but certainly is for the Arctic Circle cruise, which allows travelers to view climate change in action, while ironically contributing to it greatly.