They paved paradise and put up a parking lot

In Big Yellow Taxi Joni Mitchell tells of how, in Hawaii, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot. She wrote the song in 1970, and more than four decades later, despite soothing references to eco-resorts and sustainable tourism, "global hospitality company" Hyatt and others are paving the paradise in Morocco seen in the header photo, as this reblog from my wife's Facebook page explains.

We visited the Berber village of Tamraght in southern Morocco for the first time two years ago and returned this year to find the diggers and heavy machinery seen above in place of the grassland and grazing camels and goats seen below - the two photos were taken in the same place two years apart. Below is an extract from an article detailing what is to replace the beautiful rugged terrain we found and it will change Tamraght – not for the better in our opinion - but of course it will provide jobs for the locals which some of them think is a good thing.

"Dubai-based Samuel Creations has been awarded the interior design contract for the Hyatt Place Golf Hotel, Taghazout Bay in Agadir. Slated to open in late 2014, the property will be the first of nine resorts to open on the southern Morocco coast, comprising a further four five-star hotels, two four-star hotels, a surf camp hotel and an eco-resort. Taghazout Bay is part of the Moroccan National Tourism Strategy Vision 2020 The ‘new generation’ resort concept combines sustainable tourism with a destination offering sports activities, nature expeditions and culture for some 7000 future tourists. The seaside resort will include a variety of leisure activities and a high-end residential development."

Yes, the Taghazout Bay project will create much needed jobs. But, as Lao Tzu explained, '"Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime". Does economic progress really have to come in the form of Hyatt-filleted fish? Could it not come as fishing lessons in the form of small co-operative projects such as chambres d'hôtes, restaurants, artisan workshops and 'responsible tourism' projects that empower the local population and preserve a culture that will otherwise soon be buried under a giant eco-resort? Big Yellow Taxi tells us, 'Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got, till it's gone', and that lyric from Joni Mitchell takes this path full circle. Back in 1975 with my future wife I visited the village of Matala on Crete, another paradise that has since been overrun by tourism. Five years earlier Joni Mitchell had spent a blissed-out summer at Matala, where she composed songs for her fourth album Blue. And back in Morocco, at around the same time the legend of Jimi Hendrix had started to become entangled with filet-o-fish.

All photos (c) On An Overgrown Path 2013 except footer which is from Brendan Hynes. Also on Facebook and Twitter.


David said…
The bitter lesson is that unless coastline is protected as a national park (or in our case, saved just in time by the National Trust) this is going to happen everywhere. The trouble is that we, even though you and I see ourselves as independent tourists (ie travellers) and wouldn't dream of staying in such a place, are part of the problem.

Some very wise quotations in there - have jotted down the Lao Tsu. Of course I adore Joni Mitchell's 'Yellow Taxi'
Pliable said…
YouTube video of the Taghazout Bay development here -
Philip Amos said…
Another little bit of syncretism here, Bob, for just this morning I read a review of The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism by Elizabeth Becker, described as " expose...of how greed and shortsightedness have ruined once-pristine environments, exacerbated human misery, and destroyed the spontaneity that once made travel an adventure."

Just so, and the developers and other exploiters move fast -- now that Myanmar is opened up, the ancient temples of Bagan are already besieged by tourists. Perhaps the Government will rent them out to SOKIMEX, the private company that controls Angkor Wat.

Apparently Becker also points to examples of good governance and corporate responsibility, but apart from certain natural wonders in the American S.W., I'm having a hard time thinking of any off my own bat.

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