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Tourism: a complex and fragile system

Di Antonio Caneva English translation Paola Pr, 30 Agosto 2002

Reluctantly, we had to accept that the world had changed: it was the 11th of September 2001. Many premonitions had been before our eyes, without us realising their significance. In 1995 a bomb had exploded in Oklahoma City inside a government building, causing a huge number of victims; an explosion in a USA ship had caused several casualties, and news from around the world about attacks on embassies and government buildings of western countries were forcing their way into our daily lives. Televisions would occasionally air images of Bin Laden’s troops doing military exercises, which were taken as folklore stories, and dismissed with a smile.

Our insensitivity to what was happening turned into panic when we had to change ourselves from spectators into actors of this terrible tragedy. Now, even minimal news about terrorism attract our attention, and a day does not go by without us being alerted to new events, which are sometimes the makings of our own hypersensitivity.

It is a negative scenario which is also affecting the prospects of tourism. This year, signs of malaise have come from several quarters; seasonal activities have suffered a setback (with the usual carousel of figures: minus 5, 10, 15, 20%) which was due not only to the fear of terrorism, but also to the current economic crisis affecting various parts of the world (in turn – partly – the product of fear), as well as the adverse weather conditions.

In South Africa discussions are under way on the state of the Earth, the disasters we cause and the possible remedies. The reluctance of certain countries to sign the Kyoto Protocol is once again the evidence of short-sightedness. Deforestation, gas emission, cementification are recurrent words. This year, the anticyclone of the Azores has reminded us that we live in a complex but fragile system; as tourist business operators, being the most immediately exposed to the repercussions of senseless land policies, we must be watchful of all that develops around us

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