- Hamish Hart
The Last Tourist (2023) Documentary Review
TOURISM has seen numerous countries prosper due to the thousands upon thousands of tourists it brings into the economy. However, these same country's ecosystems are being ravished by those same travellers all at the expense of snapping that one perfect selfie. Tyson Sadler's new documentary The Last Tourist attempts to answer whether selfies are more important than sustainability in this candid exploration of the impact of mass tourism.
With over 400 hours of footage gathered across 16 different countries, The Last Tourist shines a light on the often overlooked impact mass tourism has on environment, wildlife, and local communities. The documentary features interviews from major travel and tourism figures such as Dr. Jane Goodall (United Nations Messenger of Peace), Melissa Matlow (World Animal Protection) and Lek Chailert (Save Elephant Foundation), as well as other prominent local personalities who advocate for the preservation of cultural heritage and native wildlife.
There is certainly alot to take out of The Last Tourist. Sadler's vision is projected clear and concise, never feeling too distant or repetitive, with each interviewee contributing imperative information to the message its trying to convey. Viewers are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the everyday struggles poverty stricken communities are dealing with due to the ever-growing issues caused by honeypot tourist spots. But despite the message being continually shown and talked about, the editing behind the story felt quite janky in certain scenes, with upwards of 20 cuts being used in less than a minute which failed to come across as engaging but instead felt like they were attempting to utilise as much of the 400 hour+ footage they had at their disposal. Sometimes less is more, and if you don't have any interesting footage, it's best not to use it at all.
The timing for this documentary's release certainly came at a good time, with initial Australia screenings being shown shortly after worldwide tourism has begun to prosper once again. Bruce Poon Tip, executive producer behind the film and founder of tourist operator, G Adventures, believes the documentary could not be more relevant with the current state of the world and Australian tourism as a whole.
"The Last Tourist demonstrates what a dire state the industry was in pre-pandemic, and recommends tangible ways travellers can use their personal power to have a positive impact," he said. “We wanted to bring this message to life on the big screen and at the same time expose some of the often well-intentioned but harmful practices many tourism experiences support.
"I ask that everyone who travels watches this important film and spreads the word about a better way to travel."
If you're intending on travelling overseas anytime soon, The Last Tourist will open your eyes to the long-standing problem that is tourism's negative impact on wildlife and cultural sustainability. However, if you're not planning on journeying and are looking for a documentary to sink your teeth into, The Last Tourist may not be the best in the latter, but still interesting nevertheless.
The Last Tourist will be available to stream via iTunes, Google, Microsoft, and Prime Video from March 21.