Film actress and eco-campaigner Daryl Hannah has hit out at tourist destinations for keeping creatures such as dolphins and offering a “fake” culture experience.
She picked out Dubai’s Atlantis hotel and said its attractions were “rife” with fake culture, comparing the concept to junk food. The star said such “insulated” tourism appealed to people’s laziness and the feeling that “It’s safe, I can let the kids run around”.
Hannah, who was in Abu Dhabi to speak at the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Global Summit, told 7DAYS that the water park was typical of the “fabricated reality” of modern tourism and said it was “unhealthy to disassociate from reality”.
She said she read about the water park on the plane as she flew from the US to Abu Dhabi and said people should have real experiences in the UAE, adding that such closed off, fake tourism was not fattening like junk food but it was still “unhealthy for us ultimately”.
The Atlantis offers a dolphin experience while the central attraction at the water park is a series of slides that run down an imitation of an ancient ruin.
7DAYS was unable to reach anyone at Atlantis last night for comment on the actress’ claims.
However, Hannah acknowledged that “fake” tourism is now a global trend and said it was hard to beat in the US because politicians there were so controlled by lobbyists. The ‘Splash’ and ‘Kill Bill’ actress welcomed the UAE’s lead on solar energy and called for greater global use of alcohol-based biomass energy for vehicles. She said she has two cars that run on renewable energy.
Asked by 7DAYS if she was not burning up huge amounts of carbon by flying from the US to the UAE, Hannah said she believes travel to an event like the WTTC summit was worth it because being with tourism industry leaders in a room is a powerful way to encourage change.
She said that she would not do a carbon offset for her flight to the UAE as most of the offset programmes sent out the wrong message that it’s fine to keep polluting as long as you paid for an offset programme.