Remember when “starry, starry night” was just a line from Don McLean’s hit tribute song to Vincent Van Gogh? Now, it’s a UNESCO-certified tourist attraction.
According to OZY, UNESCO’s Starlight Initiative certifies places such as Lake Alqueva in Portugal, Barreal in western Argentina and La Palma in Spain as bonafide Starlight Tourist Destination. Which is to say they have exceptional night sky quality and offer a remarkably clear view of the heavens. (Click here to read the OZY article).
Stargazing as a form of tourist ‘entertainment”? Here’s the rationale, according to UNESCO, the World Tourism Organization and some other organizations. Seven years ago, they adopted a declaration that said “an unpolluted night sky that allows the enjoyment and contemplation of the firmament should be considered an inalienable right of humankind equivalent to all other environmental, social, and cultural rights.”
More to the point, as OZY points out, one of stargazing’s undeniable joys as a tourist attraction is the fact that “it’s free — not counting transportation and accommodation — and you need not worry about having to queue for hours for a glimpse of Polaris.”
But there’s another, more significant reason to celebrate the rise of stargazing. As the world’s cities grow ever brighter, dark-sky destinations are increasingly hard to find.