When approached with the wrong motivations, tribal tourism can cause serious issues for indigenous communities, endangering their future and ways of life.
Those destructive tourism practices include:
- Land grabbing
- Aggressive expansion of industrial agriculture intruding the fertilised lands
- Aggressive poaching and commercialisation of key species by domestic and foreign poachers
These all impact the ability of the locals to maintain their ways of life.
For the Sentinelese, a 55.000-year-old tribe in India, this means that they are forced to turn to less fertile lands as the fertile spaces are now occupied for touristic purposes. Moreover, they cannot afford common necessities anymore as tourism drives up the prices, not to mention the water shortages caused by the excessive usage for the industry.
The neighbouring Jarawa tribe experience a negative influence of the Western society through structural violence, as in intruding infrastructure, like the Andaman Trunk road cutting through their territory, and the forced introduction of monetary systems, by giving out money in a society based on sharing provisions rather than financial exchange. Moreover, the dehumanizing behaviour of the tourists towards the locals causes severe health impacts as well: giving out alcohol results in severe addiction issues, and especially the women and girls are exposed to voyeurism and sexual abuse. Tourists have been undertaking those illegal ‘human safaris’ for years now, but there has been fighting back, as well, for example through the organisation Survival International. If you want to inform yourself more on how tribal tourism can have negative impacts on the indigenous people experiencing it and guidelines for ethical tourism, please visit the links below and take a look at @survivalinternational.
Picture source: Survival International