Subject: Re: The travel factor and Luang Prabang
Hi Frances

Thanks for pointing us to the depressing article on Luang Prabang. I read it with interest and am now full of guilt as we will be there in about ten days.

We might as well accept the fact that along with consuming the earth's resources too fast, changing weather patterns for the worse and ruining pristine environments we are also damaging what little is left of indigenous cultures, particularly in Luang Prabang it seems. To a greater or lesser extent it's within most of our power to do something about arresting some of these trends but most of us don't really try.

We like to think that if we enlightened (but complacent) Western tourists tread lightly (in every sense) we are somehow not doing any damage in developing countries. We imagine that if we give our money to tour operators who say politically correct things on their websites our money will only go to the "right" people in the countries we visit, but really we don't have much control over that.

If I was a Laotian, or a citizen of another small country being over-run by mass tourism after years of poverty and oppression, I think I'd feel that I wanted to control my own destiny and that I wanted the same things that all those incredibly rich Western tourists have in abundance. I might even feel that UNESCO and other similar organisations were patronising and that I knew best what my country needed "just give us the money and we'll get on with it - yes of course we have corruption but so do you in the West."

I'd better stop now or this forum will become a pulpit....

Michael in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia