Major tourism resorts are unsustainable and their construction is destroying communities, says a campaign group that accuses developers of grabbing land, displacing people and wrecking ecosystems in developing countries.

Tourism Concern says little of the profits from internationally managed resorts stay in local communities, denying industry claims that this kind of tourism benefits local people.

The accusation is significant as Tourism Concern director Patricia Barnett is a trustee of sustainable tourism charity The Travel Foundation, which supports projects in destinations and is funded by holidaymakers and travel companies.

Barnett said: “The ‘economic growth at all costs’ attitude is seeing communities dispossessed of their homes and means of earning a living.” 

In the latest issue of the group’s magazine, Tourism in Focus, campaigners report on local opposition to the Bimini Bay Resort in the Bahamas and construction of a resort in Grenada where private villas and a golf course will be sited in a national park.

Barnett said: “The needs of local communities are being pitched directly against those of mega-resorts, with resorts winning every time. Golf courses, landscaped gardens, swimming pools and showers consume vast quantities of water, much more than the local communities who often have to walk a considerable distance to fetch water.”

Tourism Concern adds that claims of responsible tourism “all too often amount to little more than a marketing tool”.