This month Martin Dorey explains why he wants us to work together for a better future, as he talks of the importance of ocean sustainability.
I got into an online spat recently. I couldn’t help myself. It happened because I was looking at a job advert for a ‘sustainable tourism officer’ here in my hometown of Bude. I was very surprised to note that ‘sustainable’ and ‘tourism’ are trigger words for some internet trolls. And when it’s a job that’s (apparently) not a proper job and is a waste of taxpayers’ money, it really gets Pavlov’s bells ringing. Never mind that ‘Emmets’ are ruining Cornwall and all that bait-ball baloney.
It was a red rag and I am sorry. I tried to explain but…some people!!!!
Let me fill you in.
Bude Climate Partnership, a group of local NGOs, recently won a significant award from the National Lottery (not from some loony leftist local council) to develop its response to climate change. The bid was successful because Bude is among the most vulnerable communities to the effects of climate change. Like other places on the coast, we are on the front line when it comes to sea level rise.
Tourism and agriculture are the main industries here – it was built on tourism and has never had any other significant industry – so it stands to reason that any project around resilience should include provision for bringing our tourism model up to date. Sea, sand and surf are, and always have been, our most valuable local resources.
But why is the question of sustainable tourism – and a decent paying job to make it happen – such a difficult beast to grapple? Colonial-style tourism, where we service the needs of our visitors during the school holidays and build endless holiday apartments that sit empty for TEN months of the year, doesn’t work. Wages remain low, carbon high, jobs insecure and the water is still rising!
We have a fine line to walk here in Cornwall if we are to survive as a community and still welcome our precious visitors. We need to work together – locals and visitors alike – to envisage a better, more sustainable future where everyone benefits.
I would love to see Cornwall being embraced as a year-round, eco destination so that those jobs are year-round too. I would love hospitality to be regarded as a decent profession and see it rewarded properly so that the front of house, cleaning and waiting staff can live here too. I would love to see visitors and locals enjoying locally grown food in restaurants staffed by enthusiastic, well paid, ambitious young people. I would love to see my friends with outdoor activities businesses teaching people how to surf for ten months of the year instead of six.
I would also love to see everyone fall so truly, madly, deeply in love with the ocean, the beach, the town and the countryside that they wouldn’t think twice about making changes to protect it.
Some people think we should blow the whole grant on a wall to protect our town.
I’d prefer it if we built bridges.
For more columns by Martin Dorey, check out how he talks beach safety.