Your Passport Gives You Power

With great power comes great responsibility. Recently, the Greek banks have faulted on their loans, calling for an international indiegogo campaign to save the country from itself, again. The country is scrambling to come up with a solutions as tourist season is threatened.  

Greece’s Woes

Many people with travel plans for Greece are questioning whether they should go. While Greece has its fingers crossed tourism will still happen.  Lack of tourism will further dig Greece in a even bigger hole.

I was actually going to be in Greece for three weeks. Personally, my parents asked me to change around my travel plans because they were worried.  I’ll still be going to Athens but only for two nights to do minimal sightseeing then I’ll be off to Spain again.

Most travel resources are saying things will be fine.  The catch is you have to bring money on hand because a lot of ATM machines are short. There’s even some countries like England, bracing themselves if they have to intervene with aide. Personally, I’m just going to pull money in Israel and exchange it so that I can have cash in hand when I land in Greece.  ATM use will be limited.  Times Magazine warns travelers about empty ATMs, increase in political rallies, increase of theft and travel insurance has hiked.

Saving Economies

This whole issue brings up something I didn’t think much about until I started traveling more intensely.  With so many options what is the best for my experience and money?  Where is my business going to do some good?  For example, Greeks have been posting on forums to encourage travelers to come with their business and save the economy.  Nepal had a similar campaign, encouraging people to continue traveling through Nepal because every cent from a traveler goes to keeping the country going with workers working and the economy trying to get back on its feet.  It is often overlooked how charitable it is to simply travel to a poorer country and gives that country more economic opportunity.

 

Ethical Travel

Should I avoid countries that are unethical because if I travel there I’m supporting their immorality? Or should I not judge a country before I see it for myself?  Or should I travel where I please without thinking about it? Many countries beg these questions are for example: Israel, India and Russia.  These countries are huge tourist destinations but their governments have questionable ethics.

Israeli and the Palestinian conflict has been an issue for years with many people calling for a boycott on tourism as well as Israeli products.  I even discussed this issue with my Rabbi, I’ll talk more about that interview in a later post, but he even said, Israel has some major public relations problems.

While I was in Israel I spoke with a Swedish law student and he said his girlfriend refused to visit him because she did not support the treatment of Palestinians.  Many Europeans had expressed similar sentiments, that traveling to Israel supports the mistreatment of Palestinians.

Then I met some travelers who wanted to go into The West Bank and see what was happening, go on political tours like Green Olives, some even attempted to go into the Gaza Strip, in vain, to personally understand and witness the issues.

Others simply came to Israel because it was different from the normal tourism in Europe.  They wanted to see the religious sites, wanted a beach or didn’t really care to think about the political issues surrounding the country.

These are all completely fine ways of thinking about where you want to go but I want you to be aware of the options.  So often, people just want to find the perfect place to Instagram instead of the best place to impact the world.  I understand that disconnect and I just want to put this post out there to refocus some people’s perceptions.

 

Do I Travel Ethically?

Personally, if I wasn’t Jewish, I don’t know if I would have gone to Israel. I’m not sure what choices I would have made if I didn’t have a cultural tie to it.  Before going to Israel I thought the conflict was hyped.  Now I think a lot of issues are taken out of context but the situation is serious and sad.

But a debate comes when I talk about India.   India has some of the highest rates of pollution, sexual slavery and rape.  However, it was my childhood dream to travel to India: ride an elephant, go to the Taj Mahal and eat authentic curry.  Right now, if I end up going to Asia, I will not be going to India.  I don’t want to support a country with a heavy history of prejudice, violence or pollution.  But again, I’m not saying this is something everyone should think but this is my personal choice as a traveler.

If I go to Asia, I would consider going to Nepal.  Truthfully, places like Nepal, Thailand and more may not survive global warming.  This may be the only time to see these places so I might as well go now.  And if my being there helps the country rebuild, I can consider it an act of charity as well as curiosity.

I refuse to go to Russia.  While it looks beautiful and I’d love to see St. Petersburg, I don’t want to go to a country that is one, trying to invade other countries for no reason and two, has a deep rooted history of antisemitism that it is unapologetic for.

 

Conclusion

What I want you to get out of this post is you have power with your passport.  You need to not only examine what will be a cool place to visit but is there a safety issue, a conflict, does the country support ideals that you do not and do you want to support those ideals.

Your business is power, it contributes to a country’s GDP and those funds the government’s efforts.  So do you want to take a stand, be curious or not care?  It depends on the country, your stance and what is happening but be aware of how much power you have when you buy a plane ticket, book a hotel, eat at a restaurant etc… Think before you travel!

Some interesting articles related to the subjects I discussed. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/30/passports-map_n_5536914.html

http://time.com/3942118/british-man-indiegogo-greece/

4 thoughts on “Your Passport Gives You Power

  1. Dear ethical traveller,

    I got your point. Its a wonderful idea to bring any country’s attention to their local problems. I hope their be more travellers like you. However, beware that you campaign against the causes and not opinions.

    I wish you all the best:)

    Regards,
    An Indian

    Like

    1. I know it must be disheartening to hear an opinion about your country like this. I merely wanted to express the notion of economic power a passport holds. I do agree with your point that while avoiding those countries may make a small indent in the causes of unethical issues, it does not effect the overall opinion of government. However I do feel that social change generally happens when the welfare of the economy is at stake. Thank you for your very thoughtful comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Another great post. I do think of the economic boost that tourism gives a country. And I’ve often thought of the paradox with locals needing the tourists yet being relieved when they leave (especially with seasonal tourism). And I’ve worried about the safety of traveling to certain countries. But never of the moral considerations. Yet doesn’t the economic help of tourism help the local people more than the governments? Especially in poorer countries? Big topics of thought. I like your concept of the power of the passport. .

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s