Vacation Violence event brings attention to tourism’s impact

Alexander Luzula | Asst. News Director

Cultural erasure, violence and sex trafficking were all topics of discussion during Vacation Violence, a virtual panel hosted by the Office of Social Justice and Inclusion.

The June 8 event focused on the negative impacts of tourism on local populations throughout the world, emphasizing what tourists can do to mitigate these effects and be more responsible travelers. 

 Graduate students and OSJI staff Kemauri Willis and Kaitlyn Mitchell led the event, which featured guest speaker Karina Campo-Dalrymple, president of the Caribbean Student Association.

Willis and Mitchell would begin by discussing the commercialization of local cultures, such as leis in Hawaii and the Day of the Dead in Mexico. 

“What started off as a ceremonial and ritual day has now become a commercial holiday,” said Willis. “It’s disrespectful and can internally have a negative effect on people.”

Speakers also highlighted how tourism displaces local populations through the development of housing for tourists, such as hotels and AirBnB.

“Increased number of tourists have led to increased infrastructure built by non-local corporations. This overcrowding means that locals have been pushed out of their homes and are unable to afford housing in the current market,” said Willis.

The presentation also touched on the black markets incentivized by tourism, such as prostitution influenced by sex tourism.

“A lot of people don’t treat [sex workers] with compassion, they don’t treat them as a human being. I think that’s the biggest problem in that industry. They feel entitled to women’s bodies,” said Campo- Dalrymple.

The hosts also fielded commentary from students in attendance and encouraged them to share their personal experiences.

Willis and Mitchell rounded out the event by outlining how tourists can minimize their impact on foreign populations and advocating for better behavior abroad, such as supporting local businesses over large chains, respecting local traditions and ceremonies and being mindful of their environmental impact abroad.

“Being a mindful tourist doesn’t mean you have to change… the way you visit places, you just have to do a little more legwork before you go, and I think longterm that makes tourism a lot more sustainable, we can have these places to keep going to without making everyone angry,” said Mitchell.

This event was the third in a lineup of summer events hosted by the OSJI focused on education and advocacy. Upcoming events included a lecture on intersectionality and its impact in the Caribbean on June 22nd, as well as a seminar on mental health and accessibility on July 13th.  

“Travel is fulfilling,” said Mitchell. “We should encourage ethical traveling because you have to respect these places before you visit them.” 

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