Monday, May 19, 2008

"Behind the Smile: the Tsunami of Tourism"

Tourism Concern's brilliant photo essay, "Behind the Smile: the Tsunami of Tourism", is back on the Tourism Concern site once again, having been inaccessible for some time. The photos by John Wright, part of an exhibition originally shown at London's Oxo Gallery in early 2006 (which also included photos by Jenny Matthews from tsunami-affected areas of Thailand), are a stark indictment of the rotten end of Kenya's tourist industry: untenably low wages, callous disregard for human dignity and scant concern for maintaining a sustainable hospitality culture. John Wright's explanation of the "quote cards" held by the subject of each photo is eloquent. Kenya desperately needs its tourists back –  tourists who are happy to tip, leave the hotel, bargain for souvenirs, jump on local excursions as well as pre-booked safaris, and generally get stuck into the country. People returning from visits say the parks are incredible with so few visitors, and the welcome as warm as you could imagine.

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