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Eco Tourism or Exploitation? - The Greening of Hate?

When it comes to the Akha and Eco Tourism we are hard to find out where the Akha benefit despite all the smoke and mirrors.

There is "Fair Trade" why not the same standard for Eco-Tourism?

When we are told the Akha support a community based tourism we find that this is not born out by the dollars or the facts.  Few guides are Akha, the Akha community does not get the money directly, however small it usually is, in the same way that the tour company gets the money directly. This is patronizing.

But it gets worse. The bottom line is that tourism is about consumption, for the rich westerner. It has little to do with the Akha having a good life, only that they must agree under the ruse to an intrusion into their lives and villages where the westerner, no matter how much they worship themselves, really have little to offer the Akha.

The Akha need aid, direct aid, as many other communities including European farmers get from their governments. They don't need intrusive tourism into their quite communities which are already under enough stress.

They do not need to westernize themselves further, prostitute themselves, to get aid or small cash. They need direct aid that allows them to protect their communities and share equally in the benefit without patronizing limitations imposed by greedy tour operators who want the world to think that they have put a pretty face on racism, or as some call it, the greening of hate. It is after all a hateful relationship, when one counts the dollars and to whom they go and don't go at the end of the day.

Sure not to the Akha community which most host the tourists, but is promised that if they dance and sing enough they will get a banana.

Plain and simple, most tourism to the Akha is like going to a human zoo and is full of racism. Very few trekkers or tourists will care what happens to the Akha in the future, and when one village of angry Akha, starving with malaria, gets angry and fed up then the operators will find another village where the Akha are "less pushy".

The Akha is the destination of the tourism, the relationship is seldom anything but exploitive, and often westerners are busy teaching national races that it is fine to exploit the Akha. Hardly Free, Prior and Informed Consent.


Copyright 1991 The Akha Heritage Foundation