The Ugly Side of Tourism: Must Watch Documentaries to Become More Woke


Vacation time usually means over time for mother earth. As we let go of all worries and immerse ourselves in the beauty surrounding us, we often damage it. Leaving trash and polluting the environment is just the tip of the iceberg. Tourists often have a direct impact on the culture and the people living there, changing them forever.

In some cases the cities they live in alienate them, being ruled by the whims of those visiting. Here are some documentaries documenting some of the most beautiful places affected by tourism.

Gringo Trails

All actions have consequences and while on vacation it may be easy for us to remove ourselves from these outcomes, they are there nonetheless.  Gringo Trails raises pertinent questions on how we travel like ‘what are the environmental and cultural effects of tourism’ and ‘how deep do they run’. The documentary takes you from Latin America to Asia and Africa over a course of 30 years showing you the complicated relationship between colliding cultures. How the financial security that a host country is striving for leads to them opening its doors to tourist who in a bid to find authentic experience bring in their money but at the same time alter all that there is as well. With this documentary get ready for some great views of Thailand, Bolivia and Bhutan and the locals who live there. You get to hear about their experience as well as the tourists who visit these places.

Bye Bye Barcelona

The title of fourth major tourist destination in Europe, right after Paris, London and Rome, does not come without giving up something. This beautiful city, rich in culture and steeped in traditions is a sight to behold for all those who visit. Easy to get lost in, tourists never really find anything amiss when they visit, after all it is a vacation for them. As far as the Barceloneses are concerned they have felt their environment changing before their eyes as more and more visitors began making way towards their beloved city and this 54-minute-long documentary explores just that.

El Gran Hotel Barcelona

Another documentary exploring the effects of tourism in this gem of a city in Spain is El Gran Hotel Barcelona. This short documentary brings forward some interesting ideas. One such concept is articulated by Hector Panizo who argues that the urban ecosystem is endangered and needs to be protected like nature reserves are. This leaves one with much to think about and mull over. While it seems a stretch, you can’t deny that may be Panizo could be on to something with this.


Portugal too isn’t doing well in the way of tourism. Sure it’s bringing in a lot of money that the country can benefit from but when you look at the city of Lisbon, you’ll find it barely holding on under the pressure. Just like the earthquake of 1755 that displace its citizens, the onslaught of tourists is doing the same leading to much debate over the right to the city of the people living there.

The Venice Syndrome

There is one city that manages to make it to everyone’s travel bucket list. Venice is a grand city, with rivers running in place of roads. With nature surrounding you blending in with manmade structures, it does make for a breathtaking view. However, where once it was characterized by the populace living there, now it has become slave to the tourists. The tourists have taken over as the new undisputed masters of this city. So what does it mean for the people who made the city as grand as it is now? You’ll have to see to learn.


Another European county, Italy, plagued by the tourism menace has sought to limit the visitors coming in to Cinque Terre to a cap of 1.5 million. Adapted as a measure to create sustainable tourism on its coastline, it failed miserably when 2.5 million crowded the space in 2015.

A Place to Take Away

When one thinks of tourism, the first thought to come to mind is that of sunny beaches, clear water and tons of nature to escape into. Or maybe it’s experiencing the high-life in world class cities like Dubai and Singapore. Slums is the last place to cross one’s mind but surprisingly this tourism is fast gaining more and more traction. This aberration really makes one wonder what is going on with people and this documentary gives you insight into that. As you embark on the guided tours in one of the largest favela of Rio de Janeiro, Rocinha, you’ll wonder what you’ve got yourself into. At the same time you’ll see how social malaise has built a market for such things.

Final Words

These great documentaries will give you a whole new perspective on tourism and while it may be something you’d want to ignore, you’d do well to be aware of the world out there. It’s not all bad either, if you like a good story you’ll find yourself engrossed in the films. All you need is a good cable TV connection that gives you access to educational content. Spectrum Channel Lineup includes the likes of Discovery channel, National Geographic and more which you’ll find suitable. What’s more, the On Demand library is sure to contain some gems as well.


Go to Smartblog Theme Options -> Ad Management to enter your ad code (300x250)

No comments yet.

Leave a Comment