Negative Impacts of Tourism Industry and the Importance of Sustainable Tourism
The UN World Tourism Organization predicts that the amount of tourists traveling internationally from 2007 to 2020 will double in that time period from about 800 million to 1.6 billion (S.F. McCool and R.N. Moisey 2008). Tourism is the result of leaving one’s own place and entering into a new place for the purpose of experiencing unknown environments and fantasy landscapes (Lansing and De Vries 2006). Tourism is a contact zone; therefore countries must adapt to each other’s differences in order to cope with the increasing amount of tourists. When this adaption occurs, it can create many disruptions on the host country involving their culture, how their society functions, and their environment (P. Lansing and P.D. De Vries 2006). The increasing popularity of tourism clearly has positive benefits such as being a large supplier of Foreign Direct Investment, as well as providing jobs for many people, but many say that it is just a continuation of old colonial patterns (Andereck and McGehee 2008). The harsh effects of tourism must be addressed and minimized in order for both the tourists and residents of the travel destination to reach its maximum benefit. I believe that this can be achieved through sustainable tourism, which is a type of tourism that continues to provide opportunity for employment in the local countries, but has minimal impact on the environment, culture and social lives of the host countries (Schloegel 2007). Through an analysis of the negative effects of various cultural, social and environmental impacts of tourism on Third World countries, one can see that sustainable tourism reduces these effects and ultimately will help these countries thrive.
With the increasing amount of international travelers, and increasing numbers of tourist destinations, the amount of people entering the country can often be a disturbance to the country’s culture and beliefs. This may occur because of the fact that the vast majority of tourists are from First World countries, therefore it is difficult for host Third World countries to maintain their unique cultures and traditions when there are constant pressures to adapt to the various needs of the First World. This also is a way to notice that tourism is another form of old colonial practices, because they are trying to transform another culture into their own.
McRea argues that because many tourists travel to experience the lives and cultures of other people; travellers develop preconceived perceptions of what they are expecting (2003). Moreover, Tooman argues that in order to satisfy these preconceived perceptions, the tourist destinations are required to satisfy these views of the tourists and make alterations in their culture to fit the views of the tourists (1997). This is a change that residents of host countries undergo in order to keep up with the needs of tourists so they can continue to have good service. Depending on the way countries react to these unavoidable changes, the constant pressures of changing can have negative affects on individual’s habits, routines, social lives, beliefs and values (Dogan, 1989).
Tourism often results in the intrusion on the daily lives of locals, a loss of privacy, and overcrowding of the host country. This negatively impacts the social lives of the local people which then leads to negative feelings about tourism for the people of the host country (King, Milman and Pizam, 1993).
The mass tourism industry has created many job opportunities for people of the Third World as it has provided jobs in the travel, hotel, and service industry (King et. Al 1993). Although these jobs have lead to numerous opportunities, the residents of tourist locations must adapt to the rapid changes in their community. The construction of all services that are necessary for the tourism industry to succeed is a lot for the local people to adapt to because it is highly disruptive on the environment. The rapid development of constant new destinations negatively impacts the way societies interact with each other because they experience an overall change in habits, daily routines, social lives, beliefs, and values (Dogan 1989). Due to this, negative feelings towards tourism are formed which has lead to an increase in immoral behaviour of some individuals of the host country (Dogan 1989). Many residents feel that they have become “servants of the tourists,” because they are only working to satisfy the tourist’s desires. This may create social tension between tourists and people of the host destination. It changes the way they respond to one another (Vago 1998).
Areas with high rates of tourism often experience an increase in population due to the many people that move in from out of town in order to benefit from the new job opportunities that the tourism industry has offered. Many communities, when undergoing a population increase, tend to experience a loss of identity and culture. It is difficult to maintain a particular identity when there are so many people from different backgrounds and beliefs entering the community at a rapid rate. The gradual increase of people into a community results in a change of habits, daily routines, social lives, beliefs and values (Dogan, 1989). This changes the structure of societies in the host country and forces them to adapt to these constant changes. Adapting to these changes may have negative impacts on the lives of the residents of the host countries. For example, if an individual finds that their culture is being severely disrupted in a negative way, they may create perceptions of the tourists, which may lead into immoral behaviours. There has been an increase in crime rates, drug addiction and social conflicts within Third World countries, which can likely be related to negative feelings of tourism (Dogan, 1989).
The environment is a key factor in tourist destinations and will often be the deciding factor when choosing a vacation spot. This means the industry is constantly searching for new “fantasy” environments to build tourist attractions on. With the tourism being a large part of the twentieth century, the demands for tourism locations are increasing. Tourists wish to experience new cultures when traveling, but without the development of new places, the popularity of tourism will decline because the desire to experience new ‘fantasy landscapes’ will not be fulfilled (Lim and McAleer 2005). This desire has resulted in many countries developing new tourism destinations, which is increasingly placing more of a negative impact on the environment as it is damaging important resources and the natural beauty of many ecosystems such as mountains and beaches (Lim et. al 2005).
Due to the construction of many tourist attractions, it is causing the destruction of many unique environmental locations in host countries. This process has a significant impact on the environment, as well as the people living in that location. Constantly building tourist attractions causes air and noise pollution from an increase of vehicles and airplanes; water pollution due to fertilizer leakage, road oil and human waste; wildlife destruction caused by hunting and disruption of natural habitats, destruction of wetlands, plants and trees, which can lead to damaging the soil and beaches (Mowforth and Munt 1998).
Not only is the constant construction of new tourist locations damaging to the environment, but it is also has a large disruption on the lives of the local people. The country’s environment is being destroyed for the purpose of meeting the demands of the tourists; therefore their environment is being taken away from them. In some countries, the local people lack clean water because the tourists are consuming so much of it and there is not enough left for some residents of the country (Mowforth and Munt 1998). In addition, it is common to see that once the tourist attraction has been developed, the local residents are not allowed access to it. This creates thoughts of resentment towards the tourists, because they are no longer allowed access to the natural environment that their country offers.
In the twentieth century, the cruise ship industry has become increasingly popular. This type of tourism is he least beneficial form of tourism, as it produces about 77% of the world’s marine pollution (Dubinsky 2011: week 6). Cruise ships are so damaging to the environment, that they are only registered in a few countries that ignore the environmental laws. These countries may think that the cruise ship industry is benefiting their economy, but 95% of the requirements are imported from outside the region that is being visited; therefore only 5% of the consumption of tourists is actually from the tourist destination (Dubinsky 2011: week 6). It is shocking to see that the tourism industry is clearly aware of the harmful impact cruise ships have on the environment, yet continue to promote the cruise ship industry. As companies continue to advertise the cruise ship industry the number of passengers on cruise ships will continue to increase, which will only make the environment worse. We need to focus on these issues and make people aware of these harmful impacts, and focus on the future of a sustainable tourism industry.
In the generation of today, we are experiencing climate change worldwide. Seeing significant changes in climate is a result of our carelessness to the environment we live in. The tourism industry has clearly contributed to a significant amount of the harmful effects on the environment, but minimal action is being taken on the issue to reduce the signs of climate change.
Sustainable development links cultures and their environment. It is crucial that we relate these to each other because if we focus on one and not the other, the mass tourism industry could potentially lead to further negative consequences. It is clear that appropriate action needs to take place in order to reduce the negative effects of tourism. It is unrealistic to diminish all of the affects, but it is it is possible to minimize them. Looking at the negative cultural, social and environmental consequences of the mass tourism industry, one should be motivated to reduce the negative effects of tourism, while still maintaining the positive impacts. The tourism industry must also focus on the impact it will have in the future as well as making it more beneficial for both host countries as well as tourists. The most appropriate method of achieving this is through sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism is a type of tourism that continues to provide the same opportunities for the local people of host countries, but has minimal impact on the environment and culture of the countries (Schloegel 2007). By practicing sustainable tourism, it will benefit the local peoples and communities as well as protect their resources upon which the tourism and recreation industry is built.
If the amount of construction of new tourist sites is limited, it will reduce the amount of negative environmental impacts. For example, one could achieve this by limiting the number of new tourist destinations and only use established tourist sites. Other steps that can be taken in order to make tourism more sustainable is to make it mandatory for people to use biodegradable sunscreen because normal sunscreen is very harmful to the oceans. Another way to enforce sustainable tourism is to reduce the amount of chemicals used for eliminating insects, as they are also harmful to the environment.
The Brundland Commission Report is an organization that focuses on addressing the increasing concern of the rapid deterioration of the environment and natural resources caused by constant construction in the Third World (Krotz 1996:216). The organization argues that the only way of reducing the negative cultural, social and environmental impacts of mass tourism is through a developmental process that ‘provides for the needs of the present while ensuring that options for the future are preserved’ (1996).
By traveling to many Third World countries such as Mexico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Costa Rica, I have become aware of the many negative cultural, social and environmental impacts of the mass tourism industry. In these destinations, I noticed that many people are dependent on the tourism industry to supply them with jobs. Although there are numerous job opportunities available, most workers are being paid minimum wage relying on tips to supplement their income and they work full days with only one day off per week. This clearly has an impact on the social lives of the local people because the majority of their lives are spent at work and they do not have that much time for themselves and their family. Also by traveling to these countries and often staying at all-inclusive resorts, one of the most significant things I noticed was the amount of consumption of resources seen in the hotels. The amount of waste that is being produced is shocking due to the constant use of things such as plastic water bottles, which do not appear to be being recycled, and discarding of unconsumed food. Recently in Mexico I spoke with one of the workers of the resort I was staying at and he told me that the majority of Mexican’s are vegetarians because they cannot afford the price of meat. Yet, at all of the resorts, there are vast quantities of meat. It is also shocking for me to see that many of the local people of host countries are not allowed access to many places that are natural to that country such as beaches. I believe that people should have access to the natural beauty that their country offers. I have also noticed that many travellers are not appreciative of the host countries unique cultures and traditions. Even though these actions are damaging to the country’s culture, they sacrifice their own needs to meet the tourist’s desires because the industry is necessary for their development. Visiting these countries has provided me insight into many of the negative impacts of tourism and has made me aware that a significant change is needed within the tourism industry.
The mass tourism industry has brought many job opportunities for Third World counties, but as the industry continues to increase, we continue to negatively impact the culture, the way societies interact, and their environment. When there are so many tourists and people moving into the country to take advantage of the many job opportunities, many countries have difficulty holding onto their unique cultures and traditions when there are too many factors that invade and interrupt their culture. These constant interruptions cause the local people to adapt to the different cultures and values of the people touring and moving into the country. This also leads into a change in the way societies interact with one another. Through my own experience, it seems that many people are not aware of all of the negative impacts of the mass tourism industry. By increasing global awareness of the topic and by implementing sustainable tourism practices, we can reduce the amount of negative impacts on the culture, social lives, and environment and ultimately help host tourist countries thrive.
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