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Introduction I have been approached by a tourism organisation to assist in researching the current and potential impacts of tourism development in a destination. I chose the Maldives because they have an impressive record of growth, while at the same time rapidly expanding their lodging capacity. There are major factors that have clearly contributed to this phenomenal growth. The remote island nature of the Maldives has been nurtured, even if guests fly in Boeing Triple Sevens and other large aircraft. 1. Tourism in the Maldives.
The Maldives consists of a chain of 26 coral atolls straddling the equator south west of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. The country occupies an area of sea measuring 754 kilometres in length and 118 kilometres wide where there are 1192 islands, only a small proportion of which are inhabited, and almost 80% of land is a metre or less in height (Domroes, 2001). Its distinctive geography and tropical climate are valuable tourism resources and the industry has grown rapidly since the 1970s when the first resorts were constructed on two islands.
By 2007, there were 89 resort islands with over 17,000 beds and a further 35 islands were available for development (MTCA, 2007a). Tourism grew at a rate of 11. 6 percent between 1972 and 2005; 26. 5 percent between 1972 and 1982; and 6. 7 percent since 1982. These rates are well above regional or global growth rates, as might be expected for a successful emerging market. Total bednights exceeded 5 million for the first time in 2004 and the Maldives has shown steady growth since the late 1980s.
The three key original markets were Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom and these continue to be the core of the Maldives travel industry. However, new markets are also emerging regularly. While recent growth has been noted in markets such as Russia, China, Japan, and Australia, Europe still accounts for 80 percent of Maldivian tourism and Asia for 10 percent. Tourists to the Maldives have tended to be couples in recent years. The honeymoon market has been strong, but there are signs that family travel, in spite of the cost, is becoming more frequent.
Originally, Maldives was a diving destination and still is, but now many travel simply for the “sea and sand” and the opportunity to unwind. 2. Impacts of tourism on economy, environment and social-cultural. A goal of developing the tourism industry in a community is maximizing selected positive impacts while minimizing potential negative impacts. First, it is essential to identify the possible impacts. (Cooper C, Fletcher J, 2008) 2. 1 Economic impacts of tourism on the Maldives.
Tourism, Maldives’ largest industry, accounts for 28% of GDP and more than 60% of the Maldives’ foreign exchange receipts. Over 90% of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. Fishing is the second leading sector. (Tourism sector and its potential 2007) Positive impacts Particularly in Maldives tourism increases employment opportunities. Additional jobs, ranging from low-wage entry-level to high-paying professional positions in management and technical fields, generate income and raise standards of living.
Maldives has the highest ratio of international tourism receipts to GDP (49. 8 percent) (WTO 2002) Especially in rural areas, the diversification created by tourism helps communities that are possibly dependent on only one industry. As tourism in Maldives grows, additional opportunities are created for investment, development, and infrastructure spending. Tourism in Maldives improved public utilities such as water, sewer, sidewalks, lighting, public restrooms, litter control, and landscaping. Such improvements benefit tourists and residents alike.
Likewise, tourism encourages improvements in transport infrastructure resulting in upgraded roads, airports, public transportation, and non-traditional transportation (e. g. , trails). (Kreag G. , 2001) For example tourism help to develop the first two resorts Kurumba and Bandos both on islands in close proximity to Hulhule Airport and Male. (A report on the WTO 2002) Tourism encourages new elements to join the retail mix, increasing opportunities for shopping and adding healthy competitiveness. It often increases a community’s tax revenues. (Kreag G. , 2001) Maldives currently has almost no corporate tax revenues from tourism.
Taxation is based on long-term land leases negotiated on a per-bed basis for each individual resort island. In fact, the leases amount to taxes paid in advance. In addition, each tourist pays a bednight tax of $8 and a one-time airport tax (or user charge) of $10. The other major source of taxation is duty on all imports (except for initial construction, which is exempt as an incentive); the impact of the import taxes is estimated at about 30 percent of sales. ( The world bank Maldives, 2009) Tourism in the Maldives largest industry and generates of 30% GDP.
Profits from this lucrative sector have the potential to help alleviate poverty and improve living conditions for local people. (A report on the WTO 2002) Negative impacts Maldives have “hyperdependency” of tourism (93,8%) (Weaver D. , Lawton L 2002), that mean if tourists will stop coming to Maldives their economy will have crisis, because money will stop coming in to the country. When considering the economic impacts of tourism, it is essential to understand that tourism businesses often include a significant number of low-paying jobs, often at minimum wage or less.
(Kreag G, 2001) For example tourism employees in the Maldives have won the first hurdle in their struggle for basic working rights including a minimum wage and maximum working hours, after the president agreed that new labour lows should extend to protect workers in the sector. (Tourism concern 2008) These jobs are often seasonal, causing under-employment or unemployment during off-seasons. Labour may be imported, rather than hired locally, especially if particular skills or expertise is required, or if local labour is unavailable. (Kreag G, 2001) Some tourism-related businesses are volatile and high-risk ventures that are unsustainable.
Greater demand for goods, services, land, and housing may increase prices that in turn will increase the cost of living. Tourism businesses may claim land that could have higher- value or other uses. Currently, despite the Maldives luxury tourism industry, over half the population suffer abject poverty and live on just over a dollar a day. (Tourism concern 2008). Local people in the Maldives are unable to speak out about these awful conditions. The government continues to impose severe restrictions on freedom of expression. Unfair trial, torture and imprisonment occur all too often.
(Tourism concern 2008). 2. 2 Environmental impact of tourism on the Maldives Tourism in the Maldives exists solely due to the physical and geographic features of the coral islands. The beauty of the underwater world at the reefs, clean water in the lagoons, white and pristine sandy beaches, a rich island vegetation and ideal tropical climate which form a virtual paradise that attracts tourists from Europe and Australasia. (A report on the WTO 2002) Pollution The first proper evaluation of tourism in the Maldives was carried out in 1983 after 10 years of tourism development.
It was revealed that the pollution of the sea with garbage, piles of waste found in the resorts often close to the tourist: cottages, the picking of corals, the use of spearguns wer, features present that did not fit into the tourists’ image of the Maldives. Rubbish on beach is the next environmental problem identified by the resort management. Rubbish on beach mainly results from waste dumped at sea irresponsibly by neighboring resorts and inhabited islands that get washed ashore onto islands with the current and to some extent from the messy habits of certain tourists.
The resort management is quite emotive on this issue as this is one issue that will reflect very badly on the image of the resort environment. (Safkar. K. , Noronha. L. , 1999) Solid waste disposal One of the most obvious impacts of tourist resort operation and one of the easiest environmental management problems to deal with and thus has been addressed in a number of reports on tourism development in the Maldives. The pollution of the sea with garbage and piles of waste found in the resorts often close to the tourist cottages were identified in 1983 among features that was not aesthetically pleasing.