You have to hand it to those orchestrating the Greenwashing of Bristol, it's certainly good for tourism. Bristol has just been named as one of the world's Top Ten cities to visit by leading travel guide publisher DK Eyewitness Travel. DK is part of the Penguin Group which is in turn part of the Pearson publishing empire. The DK press release says of Bristol -
Dita Von Teese recently opened a new Harvey Nichols store alongside a Cinema de Lux and a wealth of luxury apartments at Cabot Circus - a long awaited boost to the Broadmead shopping district. Not long after, Bristol’s robust eco-appeal got stronger as it was named the ‘most sustainable city in Britain’. Luxury consumerism and environmental sustainability look set to coexist in 2009.
Needless to say visitbristol.co.uk and destination bristol are cockahoop at the news, rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of all those tourists flying in from around the world and spending their now so much more valuable Euros, Dollars and Renminbi in our earnestly green themed restaurants and hotels. And with our traditional economic base fast going down the pan, the rest of us had better get on board too, if we want a share in the spoils.
But is there not a contradiction in Bristol's image as an international luxury shopping destination and its Green Capital aspirations? Is the inevitable growth in international flights necessary to feed the tourist economy difficult to reconcile with the need to cut our carbon footprint? Is it green to travel thousands of miles to indulge in a supposedly sustainable week-end of pottering around Bristol on a bicycle consuming locally sourced produce?
I'm sure you can guess my answer to those disingenuous questions so I won't bore you with it. But I'm genuinely curious to know the response of the likes of Alastair Sawday, Chair of the secretive Green Capital Momentum Group (a sub-group of the Bristol Partnership), who has long combined promoting international tourism with green pretensions. How do these people expect us to buy into this nonsense? Or perhaps they have some other strategy for dealing with those who insist on pointing out that the emperor has no clothes?