Resisting the Commodification of Culture
Invasion of the Cruise Ships
(Counterpunch) A week ago, a referendum by voters in the city of Key West, Florida, resoundingly defeated a plan that would have lead to vastly more cruise ship passengers. Voters came from different points of view; some environmental, some fed up with the ceaseless river of low-brow tourism, but a strong majority agreed the cruise ship industry has harmed the fabled island’s quality of life. What is interesting is that voters were given a chance, at all.
The cruise ship industry is a major component of global tourism and one of its fastest growing segments. In the 1960′s my parents took an expensive Lindblad cruise ship expedition to the fragile Galapagos. While cruise liners had a storied history shuttling passengers across oceans, it was early for adventure travel to a destination made attractive by difficult transit to a unique place.
What would keep millions of travelers from visiting the Galapagos, I wondered. Nothing, it turns out, but supply and demand.
In the past half century, the cruise ship industry has matured into a global leviathan, politically powerful and insulated by international law, serving all classes of passengers to every exotic local on the planet with a port to handle the transfer of passengers. Read the rest of this entry »