Less developed countries around the world, struggle to develop and keep up with more developed countries. In order to fast track their way through the development process, LEDC’s see tourism as a quick get-out clause. However, whilst foreign money can cause the improvement of infrastructure, there are many problems that tourism brings in its wake, as Issa G. Shivji said: “Where in the ‘Third World’ has tourism brought development?”
Between the years of 1950 and 1980, the number of international tourists increased from 225 million to 285 million. Magabogunje said: “In many countries, although a minority of the population seems to have prospered beyond belief, the miserable conditions in which the majority lives, seem to have persisted and in many cases to have worsened.” Some countries try to develop tourism in order to develop the country in general, so that the gap between them and richer countries becomes narrower, however, this has in some cases, actually widened.
Tourism can generate many benefits, such as employment and income, as well as infrastructure improvement. In some countries, tourism can be important as it may provide a way to maintain a level of economic activity sufficient to prevent migration of people from underdeveloped regions to more developed areas. This can be seen in Indonesia, where many people have migrated from the islands, such as Sumatra, whereas the development of tourism on Bali, has meant people have not migrated to Java and Jakarta.
Although tourism can bring employment to the local community, these jobs tend to be the cheap labour, low-skilled jobs, such as cleaners and bar men. The higher-ranked jobs, such as hotel manager, often go to foreigners from where the money is coming from. This means that the money does not put into the local economy. The local government often gives money to the development of tourism rather than the local population, so this leads to a worsening of the situation, with less money going to health, education and housing.
The large number of jobs can also lead to the disintegration of the family community with many youths leaving home early to get jobs in the resorts. The general culture can become ‘bastardised’ by the introduction of tourists who bring with them their own wishes for what they should see on their holiday. This can be seen in Thailand, and particularly Bangkok, where the development of tourism, has caused a new kind of tourism: sex tourism. It is estimated that there are now 700,000 female prostitutes in Thailand, who tend to be poorly educated young women, who are incapable of finding suitable work for themselves in the cities. This type of tourism has lead to the huge number of over 2 million males visiting Thailand each year, causing mass problems with sexual-transmitted diseases, such as AID’s, which now 500,000 people have.
The Gambia has tried to develop a tourist industry along its coastline, in order to get some extra money into the economy. However, already it is seeing increases in theft, begging and prostitution, which is exactly what it was afraid of when it first begun developing. This only affects a small amount of the country, with over 75% of the population relying on traditional agriculture for its income. This is because tourism is mainly kept along the coast, with very few tourists traveling away, due to the poor infrastructure.
The development of tourism means that hotels, game parks and even golf courses have to build. To do this, good farmland is often built on, meaning a loss of land that could have been supplying the economy with agricultural money. Due to the tourists’ dietary wishes, foreign food is imported into the country; meaning less local food is grown and less staple food, due to the ‘exotic’ tastes of the traveler.
If a country relies upon tourism for money, due to its vulnerability, there can be disastrous consequences. Tourism can be affected by wars, such as the Gulf War, which saw an increase of Americans to Europe, diseases, such as the Bubonic Plague in India, or economic recession, such as in 1991, when there was a 4% decline in spending. These can cause a decrease in the number of visitors and therefore the amount of money coming into the economy.
Not only can tourism cause economic problems, but also environmental problems. These can be in the sea, air or land, but all can lead to impacts on both the locals in the tourist industry, as the thing people once came to visit is destroyed.
A serious problem at beach resorts in the developing world is water pollution. This often occurs where a proper sewage system has not been installed for tourists, such as at hotels. If untreated water is thrown, out into a river or sea then the effluent pollutes the water and even the ground water may be polluted. Some hotels have constructed their outfalls into the swimming areas by the beach, such as at Pattaya Beach Resort in Thailand, where the water became harmful from the adjacent hotel. Health problems can occur from litter, as well as vermin, pollution and visual pollution, if disposal of litter is not managed appropriately.
From construction and deforestation, dust and dirt can be thrown up into the air, thus causing irritation to the skin and the respiratory system. Tourists and their vehicles can also cause noise pollution, which can reach levels, which can cause conflicts with the locals. The air is also polluted due to the usage of cars, used for the tourists. This can be made worse by the fact that the cars are old and not properly maintained, as the owner cannot afford to keep it in good repair. Traffic congestion can also occur from mass tourism, along with overcrowding, which can mean resentment from the residents, who try to receive economic benefits, but find themselves infuriated.
Deforestation can cause stress on the land, especially with the help of trampling for footpaths. Thus, soil erosion can occur causing destruction of other vegetation and even buildings in severe cases. These tend to occur where the tourism is unplanned and unmanaged, trampling can still occur if there are no footpaths and this can stunt or even kill plant growth. This also causes the destruction of habitats and so affecting the local population of wildlife. Mature trees have also been killed through salt production for hotels: On Mafia island, Tanzania saltwater is boiled to leave salt. However, large areas of trees have been killed from denudation.
Many countries with coral have found that tourists can destroy this, by both stealing of it for souvenirs and just touching it, which kills it. This has occurred in Kuta, Bali where it was found that the coral population was diminishing due to the impacts of tourism. Fossilised coral can be used for building purposes and so areas such as off the coast of Tanzania, have had serious problems with coral mining.
Tourism can be beneficial to an economy, but it depends on the type of tourism. The ideal tourism needs to aim for the maximisation of economic benefits for the local community, whilst also working for a minimisation of socio-cultural nuisances. Tourism can essentially just be an international exchange of people, who bring with them their own social preferences and prejudices, which often means an inter-cultural conflict. The only positive path that tourism can take is through sustainable tourism, which tries to maintain all the attractive qualities of a site, including its environment, character and economic qualities. If this can be established, then the benefits can outweigh the problems tourism can bring, but if not, then development is far away.
Courtney from Study Moose
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