Tourism’s impact on the Amazon and beyond
Matt Payne Photography
Last month, I did a story about a journey through the Peruvian Amazon with the company International Expeditions (“Exploring the Amazon,” September). The piece was based on a trip taken the first week of June – well before the tragic fires in Brazil’s Amazon began to grab national headlines. My goal as a writer has always been not just to inspire wanderlust, but to responsibly spark curiosity, evoke compassion and ignite a sense of wonder in my reader; taking them to places they otherwise might not see and introducing them to ways of life they otherwise might not know exists.
I’ve been privileged to visit some of the most remote corners some of the world’s most beautiful developing nations – and in doing so, I’ve come to understand what a critical role tourism plays to people in these communities. Guides, cooks, construction, maids, drivers, artists, musicians and shopkeepers all depend on tourism for income. Schools thrive on donations from generous visitors, and often, an international news story about something as broad as “The Amazon” can have a crippling effect on the economy, which in turn affects the people and the ecosystems upon which they have built their lives. The failure of those ecosystems – rainforests, in this case – has far-reaching global affects that we might soon see in our own back yards.
International Expeditions operates its Amazon experiences in Peru, many hundreds of miles from the fires in Brazil. These excursions are not currently affected by the fires, and continued tourism to the area is vital to the success of the people who call the Amazon home. If you have felt inspired to experience the Amazon – or any of the remote places we’ve traveled – now is as good a time to go as any. The stories we bring home as travelers are what keep so many of these remarkable places on the earth thriving.
Our hearts go out to those worldwide affected by these terrible fires.