Tourism industry as diverse as the people behind it Tourism's profile has increased considerably in recent years. Some see it as the next economy for a province and a country that are full of scenery and slowly weaning themselves of primary, resource extraction industries. The federal government's announcement last fall that it was boosting the budget for tourism, from $15 million to $50 million and creating a Canadian Tourism Commission, also drew a lot of attention, although in terms of federal spending on an industry it is still peanuts. As tourism's profile has increased the down side of the industry has, inevitably, been brought out. Last weekend's Vancouver Sun included a feature on the growing anti-tourist movement in Hawaii. Telluride and Aspen, two Colorado mountain towns, can't meet federal air standards, largely because of vehicle emissions. Banff's ongoing struggle between conservation according to national park standards and building malls, ski lifts and accommodation for visitors has recently been highlighted on national TV. Closer to home, at an eco-tourism conference in Whistler a couple of years ago, one speaker blasted both Banff and Whistler as examples of how not to build an eco-tourist resort. The implication being that "built" resorts like Whistler are the damaging side of tourism. Part of the problem with tourism is that it is such a general term anyone can find examples of destructive tourism just as easily as they can find examples of tourism being a "clean" industry. The faces of tourism include the busboy holding down three minimum-wage jobs and living with six other people; the manager/executive of a large hotel; the entrepreneurial tour operator/guide with a small business; and the retail shop owner. Indirect tourism jobs include the construction worker building hotels, condos and cabins; people in the airline industry; real estate agents; food wholesalers. Tourism also involves places, built places as diverse as New York, London, Cancun, Las Vegas and Disneyland; and places where the natural environment and activities are the attraction, like trekking in Nepal, fishing in the Queen Charlotte Islands, a Costa Rican jungle or a Kenyan wildlife reserve. If you get right down to it, tourism involves history, culture, man and nature. Tourism can devastate the landscape as badly as an open-pit mine or pollute the environment just as surely as an urban freeway in rush hour. It can also be controlled, shaped and directed. Tourism doesn't have to produce places like Hawaii, Aspen or Whistler. It's greatest asset as an industry is that it can be take so many forms.

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