Tunisia, Mediterranean, Arab Peninsula, Iran, Leh Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bangladesh, Borneo, Flores to Australia travel blog

Our Little Group Going to Seraya Is.

The Contrast is Striking - Rich/Poor, Tourist/Local

Seraya Island Bungalows

View From Our Porch

Frieder, Sonja, and Bonnie

On Our Way to Seraya...boats along the way

On Our Way to Seraya...boats along the way

Our First View of Seraya and Bungalows

Our short trip to this picturesque and quite retreat place was too short but due to time and the lack of good snorkeling equipment we only stayed a night.

I think I see the basic difficulty that locals have with tourism (here and elsewhere). Once it has begun to impact people with $$ and developing services, it is difficult to go back to a former time when life was simpler but harsher. On the other hand, tourism tends to be seasonal and fickle in nature. When times are bad - economic or political problems - people who've depended upon it suffer greatly. Only the very wealthy can afford to travel so marginal places are most heavily impacted both in locale and type of services. As we are seeing world wide many places once used/offering services to budget travelers are either upgrading, going out of business or letting their services drop to the bottom of the barrel. In these places we see more unkempt quarters, less service and/or poor maintenance, more opportunistic people with scams/ripoffs etc. Also, the nationality of tourists changes, now for instance, more Russian tourists in many places.

We see the same in the society at large - a wider gap between rich & poor, the poor increasing w.r.t. rich. This becomes a virtuous cycle when security for the sake of maintaining services and attracting tourists takes precedent over the needs of locals. Resentfulness is bound to increase, the people are not blind after all. Private wealth which remains out of the public sector (not invested for jobs, not taxed to provide basic government services) due to elites/wealthy feeling they have no obligation to larger society thus they use their wealth and influence to control political decisions to protect their interests only. This is class struggle in a nutshell and those in control attempt to glorify a simpler past which gives rise to conservative religious and political views. The use of any means possible to placate the masses first and failing this using outright force.

Into this mix are thrown climate change, mass movements of displaced people, and an ever increasing population placing more and more pressure on Earth's resources. It is easy to see how conflicting media myths promoted by unscrupulous people or groups who care only for preserving their power, wealth, and/or position take advantage of media - internet, TV, etc. This further divides classes and makes civil political authority less able to deal in a sensible manner with the increasingly critical problems faced by society.

Back to tourism and the same stresses come to the fore. Here in Indonesia I am confronted with a very amiable, likeable, native peoples but when they are encountered in a tourist service position their attitudes and behaviors are totally contrary to what I've experience in the population at large. These tourist service providers tend to be surly to the point of rude or at least act as tho they are doing me a favor by transporting me from point A to B for twice the regular price for example! The impact of tourism in other countries is not experienced this way so blatantly, but perhaps the resentfulness - the only word I come up with - is there under the surface but not outwardly expressed. But there is definitely an element of privilege(tourist) vs have nots(locals) which is more pronounced here in Indonesia.

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