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Published on : Friday, October 21, 2016
A remote Inupiaq village of Point Lay, on Alaska’s northwest coast is begging tourists to stay away! This tiny village is working on an anti-tourism strategy which is seeing an enormous influx of Pacific walruses – more than 6000 last week alone – because of the disappearing summer sea ice.
This weird phenomenon is attracting hordes of tourists hoping to enjoy the sights of the marine mammals. But, Point Lay is not a developed tourist destination and has no restaurants, hotels or other necessary tourism requirements. With 270 people staying, it is hardly a tourist town.
Tourist boats and planes also risk spooking off the walruses, which are a food source for the local Inupiaq people. This is why the town is asking visitors to kindly not visit their village and is probably the world’s most unlikely tourism campaigns.
US Fish and Wildlife Service spokeswoman Andrea Medeiros said that they’ve had people coming but no place to accommodate them which left the villagers with no options but to tell the tourists to go back. Locals are also concerned about the safety of tourists who need to hitch a hazardous ride across a cove in order to see the walrus spectacle from a barrier island.
Point Lay Tribal Council president Leo Ferreira advised “no media policy” as the press photographers were flying too close to the walruses, keeping in mind the sustainability of the place.
The town is now working with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to develop its anti-tourism strategy. The agency has received an $185,300, two-year grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help them train local young people in photographing and filming the animals for education purposes, and to track the age, sex and any deaths of the walruses.