Destinations

The Amazon is on fire and tourism stands to lose because of it, Poon Tip warns

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

The Amazon Rainforest, considered the lungs of the world, are on fire, and tourism stands to lose if they aren’t put out, according to G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip.

The rainforest is in a state of emergency after seeing record-setting wildfires fuelled by deforestation.

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) has reported a record 72,843 fires this year – representing an 80 per cent increase from last year – which have covered nearly half of Brazil in smoke, displacing Indigenous communities, and putting industry and the health of the planet at risk.

Image (NASA): The scale of the fires is still unclear, but NASA noted they could be spotted from space.
Image (NASA): The scale of the fires is still unclear, but NASA noted they were large enough for smoke to be spotted from space.

Poon Tip said tourism is just one of the many positive forces that could be weakened if the Amazon fires continue.

“Crises and the negative headlines they generate can, and are, spreading as fast as the fires, sending travellers elsewhere — in some cases — for years,” he said.

“But travel aside, these forests are vital to local and indigenous peoples’ well-being, and irreplaceable to our planet’s climate health.

“Brazil’s leadership has an opportunity now to step up and protect the Amazon from further destruction, or stand by and watch its benefits be lost to all. We hope they do the right thing.”

Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who favours development in the Amazon, said the country is not equipped to fight the fires. Bolsonaro’s comments also inflamed environmentalists when he blamed non-government organisations for starting the fires, but did not provided any proof backing his claims, as reported by The Guardian

High profile politicians, activists, sportspeople and celebrities like French President Emmanuel Macron, Greta Thunberg, Cristiano Ronaldo and Leonardo DiCaprio have raised awareness of the fires on social media.

More than 3.5 million people liked a photo of burning forest that Leonardo DiCaprio shared on his Instagram feed.

“Terrifying to think that the Amazon … has been on fire and burning for the last 16 days running, with literally no media coverage whatsoever! Why?” he posted.

A spokesperson from G Adventures told Travel Weekly tourist travel within South America has not been highly impacted at this stage, as these regions of the Amazon are remote and not highly visited by tourists.

According to the spokesperson, the fires are not yet near the parts of the Amazon that the tour operator’s trips visit, in Peru and Ecuador.

The Brazilian state of Acre, which is closer to Puerto Maldonado, Peru where the majority of G Adventures’ travellers experience the Amazon, has been put on alert.

Adventure World Travel managing director Neil Rodgers said one of the best ways to help preserve the Amazon is by visiting it.

“All of our local operators are committed to the ongoing preservation of the Amazon,” he said.


G Adventures vice president for social enterprise and sustainability Jamie Sweeting will speak at Travel DAZE – the travel industry’s most disruptive conference of the year. To attend this year’s event, which tackles sustainability in all its forms, on Wednesday 28 August at the NSW Teachers Federation in Sydney, click HERE.

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