Is Modern Travel Gentrifying the World?

I have chosen not to speak out on this issue yet because I will be seen as part of the “problem”.

The other week a new business a block from my house was vandalised. Hurricane windows were busted, painted splattered down all the walls. And “obscenities” written on the brick.

“Yuppy = bad”.

“Fuck you Yuppies.”

It’s hard to believe that unschooled children created this destruction due to the correct singular/plural spellings. (Later, surveillance tapes did catch 4–5 people in all ninja-style black clothing doing the crime.)

The problem lies in the millennial population. We are the “hipsters”, “gentrifiers”, and “selfish”. These all may be true, but it does not give credit to the fact that we are the next generation, and the ones after us are moving even faster. The question will be, with propaganda and opinions will we actually leave the world a better place?

“Gentrification” is the new classification of modernity and a progression from something seen as ‘cultured’ and “of value” to something that is passive, bland, and homogenized. The destruction of one thing is the creation of another. True, the money comes and goes into different pockets than it used to, but the life cycle of that particular area/building continues. Not always good, not always bad.

The same can be spoken about travel. What is the correct definition of “ethical” or “responsible” travel? In New Orleans where will you find the real cultural tones that lend their voices to the melody of life here? It was in the exact same place with perversions written in mauve-colored paint. The Nigerian, Creole, pastries, etc. are all created and cooked by New Orleans and from historical places. And since these authentic places are now in a new, money-making environment it must be bad, right? Since the area isn’t still decrepit and filled with loiterers it must be fake, right?

Sure, but Cajun gumbo, Creole red sauce, and seafood are the “staples” of our city, but they can also be seen as the “Gumbo Town” icons that treat the French Quarter as a large marketplace for Chinese-made sundries.

Could it be that in the “gentrified” areas true communities can survive? They can be squashed as well, but in this case (with the vandalized food market) the preservation of the variety of culinary influences and the local teams that they spring from does not support that.

As Westerners start to travel more and impact more what will be their defining legacies?

A borderline of colonialism still exists in the form of fixing other countries’ policies and environments to suit our needs. Every issue in this world is interconnected with others. How can an initiative be sent out to correct the vanishing rainforest while the people working on the ground are only doing so in the interest of making a living? There is no action without reaction and there is no event without another event tied to it.

What needs to be seen is an initiative to turn the local cultures into prosperous future societies, on par with the “modern world”. Instead of ecotourism being the only way of living for a certain region why can they not participate in modern farming (in a sustainable sense) or modern industrialism (again, in a technologically advanced sustainable sense)?

Human rights, culture, history and progress, food, and the environment all combine themselves into ethical time bombs for travelers. Especially with the new “millennial” or “silent” traveler there is a huge void for countries to fill in to offer those who seek to live out the life of a local for the time they are there.

There may be a correlation between those “gentrifying” neighborhoods and those calling for ecotourism in every region but their own. What may look good on one side can be intolerant of another. Looking at the ecosystem of people, the environment, and industries will be the only way towards progress. The world moves in patterns. Where does our modern culture fit in the graph?