Blogs & Comment

Tourism: the good, the bad and the ugly.

This summer while some places grapple with policy and strikers dissuading tourists, others capitalize on niche offerings.

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News broke recently that the Dutch government plans to ban the sale of marijuana to tourists. Known as the “weed pass” according to CNN, the plan is to turn coffee shops into private clubs for Dutch citizens only, that will have a capped number of members and strictly enforce the legal age of 18.

According to the Dutch Cabinet, the effort is to dissuade substance abuse amongst minors, “large points of sale of cannabis that are hard to manage,” and drug tourism. The problem is, the decision might come at an economic cost. According to an article in newstype.com, Amsterdam attracts more than 3.5 million foreign tourists per year, many of whom come for easy and legal access to marijuana in the city’s famous coffee shops.

As summer weather tempts people out of the office and into the world, Holland isn’t the only place tourists may soon be avoiding. Here in Canada, nearly 4,000 Air Canada customer service and sales agents are striking, threatening to make travel to and from the country complicated. It is the company’s first major strike in 13 years, and on Tuesday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the government is preparing legislation to order employees back to work.  “Air Canada has a huge section of the market in Canada in terms of travel,” Flaherty told Reuters. “It affects tourists, of course, but it affects business, it affects the delivery of cargo in Canada and from Canada abroad. So this is a matter of significant economic consequence.”

But it’s not all bad news in travel-land. Paulu, a country in the Pacific is the first place in the world to proclaim a shark sanctuary. A single shark in the country’s reefs can contribute almost U.S.$2 million in its lifetime to the Paluaun economy, according to a new study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), and shark diving brings in $18 million annually, around eight percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

Another place attracting tourism in an usual way is Guatemala. Though drug-related violence and gang warfare have scared many visitors away, a delegation of U.S. health care institutions recently toured Guatemala to promote it as a medical destination, according to an article in the Tico Times. “Representatives from Jackson Memorial Hospital, Baptist Health South Florida and other hospitals visited the country,” the article says, “Which hopes to attract at least some of the 9 million U.S. citizens expected to seek medical attention and relaxation in Latin America next year.”

So where will you be catching R&R this year? Underwater with the sharks, in the Netherlands before it becomes square, or on the picket line with strikers?