The Last Tourist – documentary on the pitfalls of over tourism
The Last Tourist is a new documentary that addresses the damaging effects of overtourism, and offers tangible ways people can make necessary changes. Travel is at a tipping point. Tourists are unintentionally destroying the very things they have come to see.
Pre-pandemic, tourism was already beginning to impact the environment, wildlife, and vulnerable communities around the world. As international travel returns, we have been presented with an opportunity: COVID-19 forced a travel pause that has given the industry a chance to reset and rebuild in a more meaningful way, to deliver more enriching experiences to a more conscious consumer, and ultimately reshape modern-day tourism. The question is, will be take this opportunity to reboot, or just return to “normal” and continue on the same path of destruction?
Filmed in over 16 countries and guided by the world’s leading tourism and conservation visionaries, The Last Tourist reveals the real conditions and consequences of one of the largest industries worldwide. Told through the forgotten voices of those working in its shadow, the role of the modern tourist is on trial.
As the world acknowledges two years since the start of the pandemic, the travel industry is seeing strong signs of optimism with borders reopening around the world and travellers starting to pack their bags again. The two-year milestone is also an apt time to reflect on what the pause in mass tourism has taught us, and to reassess how travel can return in a more responsible and conscious way.
The documentary came well before the pandemic, but the timing of the documentary’s release could not be more relevant as the world’s borders reopen and people hopefully look to travel with more purpose and intention.
The Last Tourist empowers audiences with the knowledge and inspiration to make a positive impact, and fundamentally change the way we travel. During the cinematic journey viewers will meet local heroes who are leveraging tourism to preserve cultural heritage, sustain wildlife, and support the social and economic well-being of communities.
This will most likely be an eye-opening experience to the majority of “tourists” out there, and it comes at a time when travel is beginning to accelerate again, which could very well accelerate mass travel to even higher numbers than pre-pandemic levels. Although travel is a luxury for many people, there must be a drastic and immediate change in the mindset of travellers, and in particular “tourists”. Yes, there is a difference, many in fact.
Typically, a tourist is wanting to check off their bucket/instagram photo list, they travel for the primary purpose of pleasure, they book locally in their home country with a travel agency, they prefer westernized accommodations and transportation methods, and tend to travel in groups. Whereby, a traveller often travels solo or with one other person, spends a longer period of time travelling, does a lot of their own research and books locally with companies at the destination they are travelling to, plans their own itinerary, and tries to submerse themselves in the local culture as much as they can.
The Last Tourist does a good job and bringing to light some of the atrocities of travel, and the pending doom of certain “tourist” sites, and the world itself. Terms such as over-tourism and it’s opposite, sustainable and responsible tourism, are used throughout to try and educate viewers of the effects they have when booking travel. For instance, the tiny percentage of the total cost of your trip that ends up in local hands, and how buzz words can make travellers think they are doing a good thing, but in reality they are doing more harm. Some are obvious, like visiting any facility that uses animals for entertainment purposes only, while others not so obvious, like volunteering at local orphanages.
There are several well-spoken individuals who appear in the film, offering personal insight and recommendations on how we can curb the decline of tourism, and reclaim it in a responsible manner with added sustainability. Travel is one of the best educational tools humans have, and it would be horrible to lose ground on this for the sake of uninformed or uncaring “tourists”.
The pandemic caused us to pause, and give the earth a break from mass tourism, so let’s look at lessons learned and what can be done to NOT return to normal. Small steps can lead to big changes, and for those willing to try, here’s a challenge for you. Next time you travel, bring your own reusable coffee mug and water bottle, if you don’t already. Let’s aim for safe and healthy travels for all future generations, by making changes today.
Executive produced by Bruce Poon Tip, the founder of community tourism pioneer and adventure operator, G Adventures, and directed and written by Tyson Sadler, The Last Tourist features leading travel and tourism visionaries including Dr. Jane Goodall (Jane Goodall Institute, United Nations Messenger of Peace), Lek Chailert (Save Elephant Foundation), Gary Knell (National Geographic), Meenu Vadera (Sakha Cabs For Women) and Melissa Matlow (World Animal Protection).
The Last Tourist had its world premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival, and will be released by Elevation Pictures in Canada via digital and on-demand platforms including on Apple TV and Amazon from April 05, 2022, with a supporting theatrical run in select theatres from April 01, 2022.
Read an interview with Bruce Poon Tip here.
For more on the future of sustainable travel, here are a few related articles below –
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.