Victus Spiritus


Harmony between Community and Transients

04 Jun 2010

Tourists to Locals Ratio at Events

I'm a huge fan of events that bring communities together. There appear to be strong local activities where folks from Maui can get involved and share some fantastic times with friends. I saw school classes and adults gathered at the beach north of Lahaina for morning canoeing (massive canoes with pontoons off the side). On Kanaha beach there were kite board instructive lessons and a couple of dozen people in the ocean skimming along the waves pulled by a massive kite. Groups of friends were barbecuing lunch and socializing on the beach. Other activities that appear to glue people together include surfing, sail boarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, as well as dance and music.

Seeing sincere smiles on the faces of people here is like night and day compared to the glued on smiles they fake. The major difference between honest community happiness and plastered on smirks that I can see is the ratio of locals to tourists. In tourist heavy activities there's no social payoff for local participants, it's all about the money. The heavy influx of temporary strangers takes a toll on the social fabric of the community. This toll is more than any fiscal advantage having tourists can bring. Many of the type of jobs tourism creates are limited to service positions. Is there a way to reinvent tourism to improve the communities visited?

After only a few days I can feel the struggle between local culture and temporary disconnected visitors. Maybe we should only come when invited by friends or family? There needs to be a balance between transients and community members for social harmony and health.