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That is, contexts where vulnerable communities and environments depend on critical tourist dollars. I recently participated in a Temas panel and debate dedicated to sustainable and responsible tourism. In short, Temas is a heavyweight when it comes to critical debate in Cuba. I should have stayed home. While the panelists were informed, experienced, eloquent, and educated, there was a general pall over the proceedings. Despite a formal invitation, no one from the Ministry of Tourism showed up.
Nor were there any representatives from the Ministries of Health or the Environment. So much for intersectoriality. Because responsible and ethical tourism is a two-way street. The emphasis on golf course and resort development did you know Cuba is in a crippling drought? File under: Wishful Thinking , are troubling. Even more troubling is this trip report from a frequent traveler to the Oriente , and this report from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child , which while long, lacks substance.
Do people do these things all the time? Yes, every day. Plus, there are millions of Cubans, even right here in Havana, who do not have running water every day. Can you let a faucet drip or run knowing that? Would you do it at home given the same circumstances? And the plastic waste 3 million and counting tourists create when they drink countless plastic bottles of water during their stay is doing damage.
So what can you do? At the very least, buy the 5 liter jugs of water and refill with that. When all else fails, switch to beer — anything to avoid the half liter bottles overfilling our landfill. In short: suck it up and use your AC judiciously. Your travel memories will be richer for this expanded listening experience. Get a phrasebook or app. Use it. Trying to communicate, even in the simplest way, in the language of your host country is a sign of respect.
Do it! Can you enrich the dialog and provide perspective? Definitely not. No one likes a dogmatic pontificator. Lest I am accused of being a hypocrite, I will sign off here.