They are back. The loud-speaking Americans in shorts who flock to tourist destinations are back to be waited on by others less fortunate. Walk around the boarding area of any budget airline and you can see it in action: neon shirts, slippers, and the raucous protests of wayward children. Their presence is kind of intrusive, abrasive and vindictive; They want to get to their destination as quickly as possible, and consume as much, as visually as possible. With pandemic restrictions waning, “fast travel” – the parallel phenomenon to cheap and exploitative “fast fashion” – is here to stay.
The beaches of Mexico are one of the most preferred beaches of Mexico for fast travel. On May 2, the erratic and confusing CDC lowered Mexico’s rating from 3 to 2 on its COVID warning scale. An official statement made it clear that Level 4 (high risk) would now only be used in countries with “rapidly escalating” cases and “collapse of healthcare infrastructure”. At Tier 2, Mexico ranks the same as Fiji and the Bahamas, a safer score than Germany and Greece. While this gesture from the CDC is noteworthy, the fast travel crowd looking for low-cost travel deals pay little attention to the CDC and its recommendations. For those booking two- or four-day trips that promise indulgent fun, bureaucratic rules and regulations are off topic. So they go lounging on the beaches sipping the mixed drinks that are part of the all-inclusive resort package. Any time that you don’t spend hanging out, eating or drinking is spent shooting TikTok videos and Instagram content. Showing fun and luxury to their followers is one of the most satisfying things about fast travel. In a world where everyone is an influencer, business of rapid consumption provides the kind of content that gets views, likes, and fame in friend groups.
Fast travelers are the best possible players in Greek tragedy, destroying the beauty they’ve come to consume. In Mexico, Tulum is a favorite destination for American travelers on a budget. It has become so exaggerated that it has earned the nickname “The Williamsburg of Mexico”. Here hordes of Americans descend on the beaches and do a terrible job of its pristine natural beauty. Located about eighty miles from the Cancun resort, Tulum was initially sold as an alternative to the quaint and touristy Cancun. Today, it is highly developed. Everyone seems to care about the environment until they seek to spoil their travel plans, their girls’ trips, their family reunions, and their honeymoon.
But the environment can often respond. Just as several new all-inclusive resorts were due to open, including the Hilton Tulum Riviera Maya, a natural disaster unfolded. The strip of beaches stretching from Cancun to Tulum, nicknamed the Riviera Maya, has been invaded by an unprecedented amount of fragrant seaweed called ‘sargassum’. Heaps of brown plants perched on beaches that were once pure white, mesmerized the beach and snooped on the Instagramable scene. in March , guardian Report the case of a hotel owner offering his six properties for sale. He blames climate change for putting him out of business.
Resort owners who don’t sell have yet to find a solution to sargassum. There’s nothing they can do about warmer ocean temperatures or increased fertilizer run-off that is thought to have caused the seaweed to thrive, but the wealthier resorts send in heavy equipment and boats to clear it up. In the early morning hours before the tourists hit the beaches, construction equipment is used to remove the already washed up sargassum. Boats are sent out to sea to collect seaweed in the water; Barriers are being considered. The beaches and seas must be controlled, as humans who earn money will not be deterred. Not only has the Mexican government announced plans for a new international airport in Tulum, but it is also planning a new “Maya Railway” that will transport tourists to Mayan ruins that are not currently on the tourist trail.
Mexico, of course, wants the tourist dollars to keep flowing. In 2019, before the pandemic, an estimated 1.5 billion people set out for foreign destinations – a massive rise from the 25 million who did so in 1950. These are dozens of tourists wreaking havoc on marine life, beaches, and just about anything in their path. Cruise ships carrying thousands of drunken revelers have killed endangered whales and dumped sewage into the sea. The all-inclusive resorts popping up all over the place further ensure that tourists donate all of their money to the big hotel chains that own it rather than spending it in the local communities around the resort.
It is not only the developing countries that host wealthy tourists from rich countries that face problems. As everyone knows, the gun is sinking in the literal sense of the word. In 2021, Piazza San Marco in Venice was again flooded. However, cruise ships full of travelers have docked for years in St. Mark’s Square, their buildings dwarfed by the massive hull of these ships, not to mention the environmental impact of the numbers of people unleashed on the city at the same time.
In the early days of the pandemic, there was some hope that the idea of fast travel with its white, Western, and consumer associations would undergo some rethinking. With travel and tourism to a halt, many previously degraded ecosystems began to thrive, as invading humans were kept away by the virus. At the time, stopping tourism could have been described as an opportunity to come up with more sustainable tourism; The trip did not consist of long short trips in the environmental impacts.
This does not appear to be the case. Sustainable tourism requires people to acknowledge their complicity in destroying all that is beautiful and worth seeing in our world. It requires them to prioritize the health of the planet over their cowardly hunger for bizarre experiences that they can post on social media. Leisure travel has been so exaggerated that even those who are aware of the threats our planet faces feel that the status of their jet aircraft does not impose irreversible costs on the planet, we must all share.
The pandemic provided the shortest respite for developed tourist havens. As countries ease travel restrictions, the world is at an inflection point when better (but less profitable) practices can be deployed or things can be allowed to return to the devastation of a pre-Covid world.