Gringo Trails

Gringo Trails

Gringo Trails raises urgent questions about one of the most powerful global industries of our time: tourism.

IMDb: Gringo Trails (1 January 2014 (USA))

5 thoughts on “Gringo Trails”

  1. As a college student with an unusual relationship with tourism, Gringo Trails foray into the paradox tourism holds for many ecologically interesting locations hit especially hard. Having been born in the Cayman Islands, having considered it home for the last 20 years, and having watched it be consumed by tourists disrespecting the coral reefs and mega-hotels taking over the once blended landscape, I could relate to the issues the local populations struggle with. As in Cayman, experiencing a landscape drastically change from one where the buildings were the height of the trees around them to 4 times taller than the tallest tree is unfortunately not unique anymore.
    Gringo Trails journey through many places around the world that have experienced the same transitions is an important revelation that all areas of ecological interest are under attack by the defacto laws that govern our society. The interviews both with the locals and travelers that have recognized the issues surrounding their experiences were by far the most powerful. Mainly because they were able to detail both the pros and cons of the tourism they’d experienced and knew how they would like it to be but felt unable to do anything about it.
    The addition of success stories saves the film from being an entirely cynical approach to modern traveling. The depiction of areas that started the same as the overrun locations but realized the potential threats early enough and took steps to control tourism creates the silver lining behind the otherwise allencompassing message of “it’s too late”.
    Overall this film is a highly reflective experience on how cultures interact and how they should interact in the future for the benefit of the environments we live in.

  2. Inspired by the ever-expanding tourism, and ecotourism, industry Gringo Trail sets out to bring awareness to the harm that can come from too many people with too few cares for the place they find themselves in. The movie cycles through clip after clip of a few seasoned travelers’ recollections of their first adventures and the reflections they’ve had on that space in the preceding years. Many of those who speak truly were backpackers in every sense, the first to a place where only those who had been in that space their whole lives ever set foot. In the years since, by word of mouth and the eve-increasing rate of globalization, these places have become hubs for international travelers and their environments and cultural preservation have declined as a result.
    The interview style that Gringo Trail uses is one of the more interesting and engaging portions of the film. Seeing the human and ecological impact is powerful, but coupled with true stories of those who have successfully reflected and changed their actions leaves that space open for the viewer to do the same regardless of their past practices. An incredibly thought provocative film, Gringo Trail is a must see for anyone who desires to see the world and do so responsibly.

    Authored by Julie Fowler

  3. Gringo Trail discusses the impact of tourism on the environment. The audiences follow the footsteps of many backpackers to various locations that had experienced minimum human modifications. For example, in 1981, Yossi and three other backpackers went into the Amazon Jungle in Tuichi, Bolivia, and he was separated from the rest of his team by an unexpected flood. He survived in the jungle for three weeks before he was rescued by the local residence. When he came back, he wrote a book about his experience which encouraged many backpackers to come here to explore this area of uncharted Amazon.

    There is no doubt that this dramatic increase in the number of tourists stimulated the local economy, but it also disrupted the life of indigenous species. There had been a decrease in the population of anaconda because many tourists went to their habitat to see, touch and take picture with them. What people need to do is to educate tourists. First of all, they have to understand their impact on the environment. Secondly, they should learn how to properly dispose their garbage rather than throwing them on the ground. They should establish environmental-friendly travel routes and learn about ecology.

    Educating tourists in an effort to protect the local environment is easier to say than done. Several places have implemented different methods to achieve this goal. In Paro, Bhutan, they controlled the number of tourists by raising ticket price to $250 per person per day. This “high value, low impact” method is based on the assumption that people who are willing to pay this much have a high education level and understand the importance of protecting the environment. In Tuichi, the local residence in this small town next to the Amazon jungle play the dual-role of travel guides and teacher. They lead tourists to experience Amazon while educate them to respect the environment.

  4. Gringo Trail captures the history and impact of eco-tourism on developing and indigenous communities. The film begins by capturing the story of Yossi, the historic backpacker who lost his team to the Amazon and survived for a month before his rescue. He then wrote a book that quickly became an emblem to all others looking to escape. From there on, “backpacking” becoming a commercial commodity. Tourism businesses, hotels, and restaurants boasting “hotdogs, hamburgers, cold beer” popped up along the rainforest and other exotic destinations. And the people who are usually labelled the “tree huggers” are unknowingly changing the landscape and economies of some of the global biodiversity hotspots.

    The film allows viewers to take a larger perspective of the issue and how it has progressed over time. I hope that in the future, films like this can offer action items for how travelers can be more respectful of their environments, and support travel agencies and businesses that are not negatively impacting their environments. However, I think that ending the film within Bolivia’s salt flats, with an image of tires’ permanent mark on the ground, is absolutely unforgettable. It is a statement and reminder of how we need to treat the environment we enjoy.

  5. Gringo Trails is a different kind of travel log. It is not self-congratulatory. It is self-conscious of the impacts of tourism. The system of tourism is more complex than we thought. Following our wanderlust, we go to remote places, often unaware of the changes and impacts we are making. Gringo Trails tries to trace the process and the many unintended effects of travelers.

    Tourist hotspots are usually first discovered by pioneer travelers then the whole world follows. The scene of tourists laughing and dinning on the desert is an ironic signifier for human’s search for the wild and their taming of the wild. In searching for the unspoiled, they spoil the unspoiled. Lonely Planet guidebook writer was questioning herself on the consequences of introducing the jungle to the world in the guidebook. She recognized the responsibility of the exposure and in turn everything of the Bolivian jungle she loved. As tourists pouring in, already the snakes have been diminishing in the most bio-diverse jungles in Bolivia. People gathered around and scared anaconda, touched the snakes with hands and lulled monkeys with fruits. Some human products, for example mosquito repellent, are toxic to the snakes. The temporary amusement translates to hazards of animals. In response, the more assertive locals called for the need to educate travelers and establish rules. Other than the jungles, exotic landscape of salt islands is also popular with tourists. Unlike the saline desert lake Mono Lake, the salt island is being sought not for natural resources but its beauty. Where the locals harvest cactus, the tourists take pictures. 300-400 tourists per day come and there is no disposal plan for the garbage or the conservation for maintenance. Tourists drive too fast for conservation to happen at the same time. The vehicles also changed animal behaviors and are creating no-animal zones in where rabbits and flamingoes used to thrive. The first resident of the island was interviewed and shared his concern over the carrying capacity of this 10 acres small island and how tourism could change the original charms of the island. It is inevitable. Houses, hotels and restaurants have already covered the initially pristine landscape. Backpackers around the world come and take trips in unregulated manners. It is ironic that the “hard core” backpackers who want to be different from the comfortable agencies come off as having herd mindset and tainting the places to their convenience.

    The film goes on to follow the scholarship trip in Mali, the full moon party in Koh Phangan, Bhutan’s high value and low impact system, and the local community tourism of Chalalan ecolodge. The overarching questions for the local management of tourist attractions are how to balance accessibility and sustainability. How to balance the economic opportunity of selling nature and culture heritage and regulation and limits of tourism to protect the environment? How should tourists intervene the nature and the culture of the local places they are visiting? Should they help the economically disadvantaged and the birds that fell to the ground?

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