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Input for the Thematic Report on Tourism of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Publisher: IWGIA & AIPP
Number of pages: 9
Publication language: English
Region publication is about: Asia
Release year: 2023
Release Month | Day: March

Tags: Land rights, Human rights

Tourism projects are often designed and implemented without respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the right to self-determination; lands, territories and resources; free prior and informed consent; as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Furthermore, the travel industry is often deeply voyeuristic in the way it views Indigenous cultures.

Tourist hunger for ‘authentic’ experiences of traditional culture can imprison Indigenous societies in a stagnant state, where they feel forced to reconstruct their ethnicity as photogenically as possible to their visitors. A perspective often amplified and promoted by governments, who proudly showcase the cultural diversity of their country. This often results in the commodification of cultural markers, so that religious practices, cultural observances, and festivals are embellished to attract and impress tourists. Commodification can lead to a lack of respect for traditional symbols and practices, and to the fragmentation of the community’s values.

While tourism may seem to be doing good for the society, it also is creating social and psychological consequences for the Indigenous Peoples that are more detrimental than beneficial. The ability to financially benefit from the tourism industry and, to some extent, aid in the exploration of local culture and traditions are some beneficial consequences. However, it has extremely detrimental effects on them.

Displacement is one of the negative impacts of tourism on the Indigenous Peoples. The State's focus on maintaining tourist sites such as a National parks, Hunting Reserves, and other types of infrastructural development linked with tourism, has led to displacing them from their ancestral lands.

This submission is jointly produced by the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP). It compiles examples of how conservation efforts linked to tourism, and the development of tourism infrastructure and projects in Asia have caused eviction of Indigenous Peoples from their lands; contaminated natural resources; threatened their indigenous livelihoods and restricted access to sacred places and resources. Additionally, the examples also highlight how tourism projects can lead to violence against Indigenous women, militarization, and lack of security for the Indigenous Peoples affected.

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