“Gringo Trails” Documentary Suggests Tourism is Out of Control

Published on : Saturday, January 4, 2014

140102112454-gringo-trails-1-movie-poster-vertical-gallery-225x300“Gringo Trails,” a film by American anthropologist Pegi Vail, looks at the outcome of the mismanaged growth of the tourism industry in developing countries. This is the first feature film from Vail, who works full time as the associate director of the Center for Media, Culture and History at New York University. Documentary suggests tourism is out of control in parts of the world, irreversibly damaging the environment and native cultures.

The story starts and ends in Bolivia, focusing on the impact of the autobiographical book “Lost in the Jungle” by Israeli traveler Yossi Ghinsberg. Using dramatic examples from different continents, such as the distressing impact of hedonistic full moon beach parties on Thailand’s Koh Pha Ngan island, the film is moving and informative, if sometimes elementary.

“Gringo Trails” refers to the well-trodden paths across the globe by “big groups of travelers with power.” And “gringo” no longer just means white faces, says Vail.
In the past years, the traveling middle class has expanded to include different faces from many different cultures.

People who already know the issues won’t find much new here, but for the uninitiated it serves as a 78-minute, around-the-world guilt trip revealing the frequent insensitivity of the tourism industry and how it implicates everyone.

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