1. Tony Howard
    June 8, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

    You say, “she thanked the locals for their time, framed the TCT as no more than an idea under consideration, and expressed two important principles – first, that we would not take any action whatsoever without the express consent of the community, and second, that their wishes and concerns would be put at the core of any decisions we made”. Which is precisely what we did in Wadi Rum when we arrived there to climb in 1984 and asked for the approval of the local Bedouin. Generally it worked out well. Many are now happily guiding treks and climbs and running their own camps. I see that kind of thing is not your objective but it has been a good spin off that was welcomed in Rum and a few years later across all Jordan.good luck with your project, it sounds and looks wonderful.


  2. Marta
    June 8, 2016 @ 8:30 pm

    Thank you for your comment, and for the warm wishes for our project Tony. I would be very interested in receiving some more info/stories/tips about your consultation with the local Bedouin. If you are happy to share, please email me at [email protected]

    Thank you 🙂


    • Kate Schachter
      June 13, 2016 @ 2:28 pm

      Hi Marta,

      I’ve been following the blog closely and sharing widely. I’m very excited about your project!

      My sister has done Rails to Trails development (converting abandoned railroad corridors into biking trails) in West Virginia and across northeast US for about 30 years, first as a volunteer until she was hired by the National Park Service to do it for real money.I pointed her to the blog, and asked her opinions. She came back with the following brief points:

      “It is obvious that rail-trail development and increased usage by bike/ped result in increased property values, and then gentrification of those “next to the tracks” downtrodden neighborhoods. I haven’t talked to anyone that knows how to avoid this.

      People talk about trail benefits – increased property values! Well, that also increases taxes. Not everyone can afford increased property taxes. Then they lose their house/property. Or a developer comes and buys them out, and they have to move from their family home place and their long-standing neighborhood of friends/family.

      It can be divisive. It’s a conundrum.
      Equity is a tricky thing.

      Hiking trails may be a little different than rail-trails. Not sure.

      A community cooperative might be a way to share equitably in the economic benefits – whether it is lodging or restaurant or grocery. But, those along the trail will have the greatest visibility obviously – or within 1/4 mile.”

      Marta, I don’t know anything about property values and tax impact in Georgia, so this may be a different sort of problem. But if you’d like to talk with my sister, you can reach her at [email protected].



  3. Rob Lewis
    June 19, 2016 @ 10:56 pm

    Was up in Svaneti about 3 years ago, with the family. Glad to see that you’re involved in the next steps for this delightful corner of the world, Tom. So there’s some chance there will be positive development – whatever that means. When we were there, a lot of Israelis seemed to have discovered it, but hardly any tourists other than them.

    Rob (Istanbul)


  4. Andrew Welch
    June 20, 2016 @ 4:41 pm

    Oh mate, what a can of worms 🙂 !

    Either you would have to have a lot of funding to design a holistic strategy for the development or deal with chaos during the organic process or wait until someone local decides to do what you guys are doing who already has a tacit understanding of the place.

    Which might take ages or not happen at all, hence the dilemma of you guys going there and providing your ‘knowledge’ and ‘support’. E.g. education and design which is valuable but as you have seen very hard and confusing.

    I agree with your points that getting out into nature for its own sake is valuable indeed. You’ve come across these conflicts, but I don’t think you personally have to worry so much about it. I would like to know why it concerns you so much.

    Tom Allen writing something like this: “Neoliberals would of course argue that this is how the free market is supposed to operate.” What has the world come to!

    I would love to write something longer here in response to this very long and obviously extremely considered piece, but I really feel that this is the wrong format for it.

    I have a decent amount of experience dealing with the local people in Georgia in the area of trail building and tourism through the Georiders project.

    Please feel free to get in touch at georidersmtb (at) gmail.com. If you have a place where you put a list of organisations working in the area related to this project please feel free to add the website http://www.georidersmtb.com.


  5. Na dachu Europy – Swanetia – Z dala od biura
    August 4, 2016 @ 6:37 pm

    […] Wraz ze zmianami w Swanetii infrastrukturze pojawili się turyści. Tacy sami jak wszędzie, szukający dobrej restauracji i zimnego piwa, doceniający piękne widoki. I przede wszystkim zwabieni opowieściami o niesamowitej gościnności Gruzinów. Wydaje się jednak, że wraz ze zmasowanym najazdem amatorów gór (którzy od kilku lat zaczęli przyjeżdżać nie tylko z Rosji, ale praktycznie z całej Europy i Bliskiego Wschodu), mieszkańcy Swanetii zaczęli traktować przyjezdnych  właśnie jak turystów i klientów, a nie jako gości. Miejscowi błyskawicznie przekroczyli tą magiczną granicę pomiędzy miasteczkiem na końcu świata a egzotyczną atrakcją. Oczywiście, wciąż można tutaj natknąć się na łapiące za serce przejawy życzliwości. Jednak przy tak ogromnych tłumach, które co dziennie przelewają się przez ulice Mestii i Ushguli, trudno oczekiwać by ich mieszkańcom widok obcych ludzi nie spowszedniał. Ta słownikowa, opiewana w tysiącach relacji podróżniczych bezwarunkowa gościnność jest teraz rezerwowana przede wszystkim dla tych przybyszów, którzy nie są „normalnymi turystami” (oczywiście z wieloma wyjątkami). Jak opisał to Tom Allen, jeden  z członków zupełnie nieturystycznej wyprawy Transcaucasian Trail (grupa ta zajmuje się wytyczaniem szlaków górskich w gruzińskiej części Kaukazu) w tekście „Z Mestii do Ushguli: Czy Swanetia może stracić swój mistycyzm?” (http://transcaucasian.com/2016/06/08/mestia-to-ushguli-is-upper-svaneti-in-danger-of-losing-its-myst…): […]


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