ISSN 1108-8931


Year 6 - Issue 66

Sponsored by: Zante Feast Discovery Holidays, Purple Valley Yoga Centre, Hana Maui Botanical Gardens, Jorth Consult Limited


"Black Sheep" Andres Hammerman & Michelle Kirby

Member News & Tsunami Update

Eco Focus
Ecotourism Development in Socotra Island, Yemen
Ecotourism Certification in China
Basic Solar Water Heater DIY

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EDITORIAL: Tragedy is the mother of Change

The Tsunami disaster hit hard members of the ECOCLUB Community, and in particular Golden Buddha Beach. On behalf of all Members, I offer my deepest condolences to the relatives of the deceased, staff and guests, and pledge to support the current reconstruction effort at Golden Buddha, because life and Ecotourism, rather than megatourism or luxotourism, must go on. A few thoughts follow on the big, tragic picture slowly emerging from the events of the last weeks, and what good can come out of all the suffering.

Tragedies, such as the one caused by the Tsunami [Japanese tsu, (port) and nami, (wave)], bring out the best and worse in people: from heroic salvation stories and generous donations by poor people,  to donation scams, politics, to organised trade in orphaned minors. Still, one could say that civilisation itself has been molded through disasters and tragedy, natural or man-inflicted; paraphrasing Heraclitus, tragedy is the father of all.

The world community, as represented by the UN, should focus on implementing positive permanent changes through this disaster: not just the much talked-about missing Indian Ocean tsunami warning system - a tsunami may indeed not happen for another three generations in the area - but in terms of meeting the more pressing everyday needs of education, sanitation, health for the impoverished masses of Asia (and Africa, that should not be forgotten). The devastation may have not made any separation between rich and poor, young and old, local or foreign - and in that it is similar to a hundred Titanics - but it is the surviving poorer residents who will find it harder to cope with the aftermath. And like the Titanic, it was an accident that could have been prevented, with proper information, training, communication, and above all education: a 10 year old British girl on a family holiday in Thailand, remembered her geography and recognised the ominous signs when the tide rushed away from shore, and warned in time her parents and others on Maikhao beach. Also important, the preservation of traditional wisdom: witness one of the few populations that evacuated before the tsunami, in the island of Simeulue, very close to the epicentre: a local legend advised that after an earthquake they should RUN to high land.

The disaster is showing the power of the Internet in terms of mobilising and raising an unprecedented level of donations and bridging various divides. But I wonder, is the temporal, worldwide display of philanthropy (be it genuine or self-serving - it does not matter to the needy) and governance by non-governmental proxy, a substitute for accountable, non-corrupt, states that respect their citizens, instead of wasting billions on munitions? Even basic systems were not in place: a simple warning system from public radio stations and policemen going around with loudspeakers could have been enough to save most lives. Some officials heads surely will roll, even as a scapegoat-type gesture. In the mean time, aid still does not seem to reach those who need it most, and tensions over aid management are about to erupt to further complicate aid diffusion. It is also depressing to see antagonism to the UN from some of its Members, on who will have the upper hand in philanthropy...On the positive side, it was encouraging to see armies effectively using their skills and means for relief.

In the affected areas, during the past few years, one tourism-affecting disaster follows the other: terrorist violence, civil war, SARS, now the tsunami. So can countries, and I am not necessarily referring to any of the affected ones, really develop sustainably just by depending on mass tourism and in particular sea & sand tourism, sex tourism, destroying-mangroves-coastal-erosion-tourism, building-all-over-the-place-tourism, to meet the insatiable western exoticist demand for new, postcard-perfect beaches?

It took the tragic loss of many tourist lives for many in the rich north to realise(?) the everyday horrors of underdevelopment that lie underneath the glossy travel brochures, the parallel world that does not reap any benefits (to put it mildly) by the prevailing tourism model. No, it's not enough to rebuild the mega-hotels as they once were, and for tourists to return to the affected areas. The affected countries deserve a better tourism and a better type of development, that brings basic amenities, dignity and rights to all their citizens.

Antonis B. Petropoulos


Disclaimer:  Any views expressed in this newspaper belong to their respective authors and are not necessarily those of ECOCLUB S.A. Although we try to check all facts, we accept no liability for inaccuracies - which means you should not take any travel or other decisions based only on what you read here... Use of this newspaper is covered by the Terms & Conditions of the Website and by your uncommon sense and good humour.

Copyright © 1999-2005 ECOCLUB S.A. All rights reserved.


Copyright © 1999-2005 ECOCLUB S.A. All Rights Reserved.