Blog 4th Year Anniversary – Photos & Reflections of last 12 months (12.02.16)
This week is the fourth anniversary of my blog so I would like to extend a big ‘thank you’ to one and all for taking the time to visit this site. This blog allows me to share my nomadic thoughts and reflections on many of my favourite worldwide destinations. As stated in my original ‘Why Blog’ post four years ago, my continued hope is that you too will be inspired to travel.
All of the photographs in this blog are mine. I hope they will cause you to look further into the debates surrounding the fabulous destinations and experiences tourism offers. It sure is a beautiful world out there, dominated by extraordinary landscapes as much as ever-friendly people only too happy to share their backyard with you.
Heartened by the constant feedback my globe-trotting musings create, and with over two hundred-travel themed postings so far, I remain enthusiastic to continue my blog offerings.
On this personal anniversary I would like to post a selection of images from the past year of global and personal events and experiences.
February 2015 – Greece and economic doom and gloom appeared to dominate the early months of 2015.
On 20th February the Eurogroup (Eurozone finance ministers) brokered an agreement between Greece and the Eurozone for a four-month loan extension.
This led to further developments as the new Greek Prime Minister Tsipras announced a bailout agreement referendum for 5th July. This resulted in an over 61% vote against the Juncker Commission’s Eurogroup proposals.
Despite potential economic meltdown, tourism remained the country’s most resilient industry. My family decided to sign up to putting boots on the ground, booking our 2015 summer holiday to the Greek Islands.
These images are from that holiday.
March 2015 – International Year of Soils
I have chosen these photos to highlight, each in their own way, the 68th UN General Assembly’s declaration that 2015 would be the International Year of Soils. Most travellers never give it thought, despite traversing mountains, deserts, valleys, coastlines, jungles and rain shadows.
The UN was trying to make civil society and decision makers aware of the profound importance of soil for human life. I picked up on this point throughout my travels in 2015, trying to capture images that show man’s impact on the soil we depend on.
April 2015 – Italy
In particular Venice and Florence, have long been some of the international tourism industry’s poster destinations. A hundred years after Italy entered WW1 on the side of the Allies, I was lucky enough to visit both Florence and Venice in April, and to travel back across Europe on the Venice-Simplon Orient Express train.
May 2015 – Rise of the Selfie-Stick.
Invented in 2005, explosion in use ten years on. How long the global craze of selfie-photos will continue, only time will tell. But what is certain is that 2015 saw a monster explosion in sales of selfie sticks, creating a sea of stick-wavers around, across, in front of, amidst and on top of many of the world’s most famous sites.
This photo, of young Chinese tourists in Europe, not only shows how international today’s global travellers are, but also how important the selfie stick is in enhancing their social media profile. Selfie-sticks are fast becoming illegal instruments of fun at certain destinations such as Premier League football matches, Wimbledon, Disney Adventure Park and Rome’s Colosseum, among others.
June 2015 – Ashes Test Series
In 2014 my focus, along with the rest of the world, in terms of sport was on the Brazilian Football World Cup. In 2015 the main sporting focus was on the Ashes Test series between England and Australia.
I captured this image of an MCC Member strolling to the back of the early morning Members’ queue.
July 2015 – Cuba & USA
On 20th July 2015 Cuba and the United States of America restored diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. A time lag accentuated by the country’s fleet of Yank tank cars.
Aside from the impact this restoration will have on everyday Cubans, as a tourism destination the island is fast becoming one of the most popular global tourist venues. Travelling to Cuba with my family later in the year, I found it all too apparent how delicate the balancing act is between sustainable development and multi-stakeholder benefit.
These four images give a flavour of what to expect.
August 2015 – Refugees
Summer 2015 will always be remembered for the flood of refugees into Europe, predominantly from war-torn Syria.
Images appeared daily of desperate people of all ages, trying to cross Mediterranean water stretches from Turkey to Greece, and north Africa to southern Europe, in flimsy blow-up-boats. Refugee numbers peaked during the summer months, and do not look like subsiding for the foreseeable future.
For example by October 2015 Syrian Asylum Applications reached a European monthly high of 159,288, taking the cumulative total to 705,660.
Although I do not know where she is from, I took this photo of a young Muslim girl in southern Europe. When I saw her, I was taken by how calm, safe and integrated into modern, mainstream European life she appeared. Something those so desperately fleeing Middle Eastern conflicts strive for.
September 2015 – Tourism Terorrism
2015 will also sadly be remembered for the escalation in tourism-targeted terrorist attacks, with images of gunmen hunting beach tourists in Tunisia and the Charlie Hebdo and later Parisian attacks.
On 25th September Barak Obama hosted a UN Summit to debate how best to fight the violent extremists of Islamic State (ISIS). Despite these terrorist attacks I believe that tourism still remains the most powerful weapon against alienation and mistrust between differing countries, creeds and cultures.
This image of a policeman on his beach quad-bike, taken 12,000 kms from the Middle East, illustrates how important the balance between safety, security and holiday sunshine is.
October 2015 – World Indigenous Games
Brazil – between the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics – held the first ever World Indigenous Games (23rd Oct – 1st November 2015).
I was intrigued by the exciting concept of promoting minority indigenous groups in an athletic games environment. A positive and all-embracing way of exhibiting some of the most threatened indigenous cultures.
Although I did not attend the games, I have chosen this Latin American image as an example of how the developed world can continue to learn from today’s proud indigenous people.
November 2015 – Climate Change
As highlighted in my ’Climate Change – 10 Photos’ blog, this year’s COP21 Climate Change Conference opened in Paris on 30th November. The focus was on reaching an international agreement on how best to keep global warming below 2°C.
December 2016 – Changing Holiday Landscape
I took this photo on Christmas day. I have chosen it as I believe it tells three different stories relating to today’s tourism trends. Although when I took the shot I was aware of the bright sunlight shining on the beach action in the foreground, it was the impending tropical storm above that dominated the shot.
- The magnificently dark clouds show how difficult it is becoming to predict holiday weather. Previously reliable weather patterns have become erratic, playing havoc when planning the ideal holiday.
- The build up of seaweed from the Caribbean Sea has dominated many beaches across the region over the last couple of years. The whole Caribbean area from Central American coasts to Florida and the West Indies islands has experienced an uncontrollable tide of seaweed, apparently built up after several unpredictable hurricane seasons. In this case the piles of high sand (to the left) illustrate how excess seaweed has had to be bulldozed off the beach.
- Kite Surfing –an example of how many destination are re-inventing themselves as ‘adventure tourism’ destinations. With often stronger than previous winds affecting coastlines and beaches across the world, sports such as kite-surfing are booming in popularity. For example the fortified historical town of Essaouira in Morocco is now one of the world’s leading kite surfing destinations. Similarly, Alpine resorts, previously only reliant on winter skiing, are now offering adventurous activities during the summer months.
January 2016 – Tim Peake – First Brit to embark on a space-walk.
I took this photo recently when flying across the North Atlantic between London and Mexico City. Although I was in an aeroplane, I felt as if I was looking down from a space ship, with the apparent curve of the earth accentuated by distant clouds.
What’s to come over the next 12 months? We’ll see … meanwhile, I hope I can encourage you to continue looking out to far away horizons.