As Kuoni’s Derek Jones commented on social media, the photograph of climbers queueing to reach the summit of Everest felt iconic as soon as it was circulated.
It isn’t the first to be published of queues at the world’s highest point, but it struck a chord as destinations and travel companies face growing calls to find the balance between people’s desire to travel and the potential impact on the people and places visited.
The topic of overtourism was also the subject of an image of a very different kind this week, as street artist Banksy weighed in with his own take on the subject in relation to the city of Venice.
I reckon this photo, taken yesterday at the top of Everest, is destined to become one of the most iconic photos of our times. For me, it encapsulates the challenges of over-tourism and sustainability.
Everyone wants to go but if everyone goes… pic.twitter.com/dQEeJ3QE98
— Derek Jones (@Degsy_DJ) May 24, 2019
But as with all such crucial debates, there are layers of complexity beneath the headline images. Nirmal Purja’s photo from the peak of Everest came to the fore as delegates from across the region headed to Nepal for the Asian Resilience Summit, which focuses on the many benefits that tourism can bring to destinations.
For Nepal itself, an example of this came in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake, when travel firms helped the country and its many tourism-dependent people get back on their feet.
It is not only in the aftermath of disasters that travel can be a force for good, of course. But as Responsible Travel’s Justin Francis said this week, it is incumbent on the industry to work closely with tourist boards to ensure those benefits can continue to be enjoyed in a sustainable way.
Comment from Travel Weekly, May 30 edition