Since completing university, Paul has worked as a librarian, teacher, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he currently lives in Florida.
Many places in the world rely heavily on tourism as a key source of income and employment. Unfortunately, tourism can also be a source of problems, especially if it is not managed well. A huge influx of visitors can gradually deplete the beauty, uniqueness, character, environment, resources, and social coherence of a tourist destination over time.
It is easy to underestimate the scale of tourism. Every year, about a billion tourists take trips: That makes 30 tourists arriving at their destinations every second. There were around 79.26 million tourists visiting the US in 2019. That many travelers can easily present huge challenges for many destinations. Transporting, providing places to stay, feeding, entertaining, policing, and cleaning up after that many additional people is not a simple or straightforward task. Is it worth it?
This article lists the main advantages and disadvantages of tourism.
The Advantages of Tourism
- Economic. It brings in money. This is probably the main advantage of tourism and the reason why it has been promoted so much, especially in developing countries. The income generated can make up a significant proportion of both private, local, and national incomes.
- Opportunistic. It provides jobs. Hotels, bars, transport, activities, shops, and restaurants all need staffing. Tourism can provide much-needed employment for people.
- Infrastructural. It provides a means and an incentive for investment in infrastructure such as roads, rail networks, and local medical and education facilities.
- Environmental. It can provide economic incentives for a place to preserve, maintain, and regenerate the environment in both urban and rural settings.
- Cross-Cultural. It promotes international connections which can bring more business and cultural collaborations in the long term. It also promotes cross-cultural awareness for both locals and tourists and builds bridges of understanding between cultures.
- Promotional. It "puts a place on the map": Tourism gives the locality a chance to show itself off and raise its profile in the world.
Did You Know?
° The money generated by tourism accounts for 5% of global GDP.
° For every job created in the core tourism industry, around 1.5 extra, indirect jobs are created in the wider tourism-related economies.
° Tourism provides jobs for 1 out of every 12 workers in advanced and emerging economies.
The Disadvantages of Tourism
- Environmental. Tourism can often cause environmental damage with risks like erosion, pollution, the loss of natural habitats, and forest fires. Even if tourists behave responsibly, the sheer number of them can cause damage. Ancient buildings, monuments, and temples often struggle to cope with increased traffic and suffer inevitable wear-and-tear. Reefs and other natural tourist attractions can suffer permanent damage.
- Cultural. The commercialization of culture can undermine the soul of a tourist destination. Local traditions that have a rich cultural heritage are reduced to wearing costumes and putting on acts for the tourists in return for money.
- Culture Clashes. Tourists often lack respect for local traditions and culture, refuse to follow local dress standards, get drunk in public, or behave rudely or inappropriately towards locals.
- Service Economy. Although jobs are created by tourism, most are relatively low-level such as bar work, hotel service, restaurant serving, and so forth. These low-wage, low-skill workers have little prospect for advancement or promotion.
- Seasonal Fluctuations. Tourism jobs are quite commonly seasonal and insecure, with no extra benefits such as pensions, sick pay, or healthcare. Some areas can be inundated with visitors during busy times, and then virtually deserted for many months.
- Imbalanced Funding. Money can end up being directed to tourist areas when it could be used more effectively elsewhere in a country. The locals who don’t live in specific tourist areas miss out and suffer relative decline.
- Foreign Poaching. Oftentimes, most of the tourism industry in a developing country is owned by big foreign companies. They make the major profits, leaving local businesses with relatively little benefit.
- Tourism Dependence. Sometimes, tourism becomes so focal that other forms of income-generation are neglected and an economic dependence on tourism forms. This is fine in good times, but it can leave the country vulnerable to economic ruin in the long run and can contribute to political upheaval or natural disasters.
Economic Pros and Cons of Tourism
Tourism-generated income can be hugely beneficial both private and public concerns.
Money can end up being spent only on touristed areas while other places and industries suffer.
It can provide employment opportunities for people who can work in tourism-related industries.
Most tourism jobs are relatively low-level and low-skilled, and these jobs may have drastic seasonal fluctuations.
Tourism promotes international connections which can increase business opportunities.
Attracted by opportunity, foreign companies begin poaching business away from local businesses.
The area may become dependent on tourists' dollars and risk loss and damage as a result.
Negative Environmental Impacts of Tourism
Although tourist money might be put to good use in preserving environments, tourism does put burdens on natural resources and often promotes overconsumption and unfair allocations of resources in places where resources are already limited. When tourism becomes unsustainable, it can permanently damage the environment. Tourism impacts the wildlife, vegetation, air quality, the quality and supply of water, and natural phenomena.
Pollution. When huge numbers of people visit, they invariably burden the transportation system and contribute to pollution—locally and globally. Flying one mile in a plane produces about 53 pounds of carbon dioxide, and tourists account for almost 60% of air travel. Some estimate that cruise ships to the Caribbean create over 70,000 tons of annual waste.
Environmental Damage. Many tourist activities have negative ecological impacts. Snorkeling, hiking, and fishing all affect and deplete the local scenery. There's a trail in the Himalayas that's nicknamed the "toilet paper trail.” A tropical golf course requires the amount of water that would feed 60,000 locals... plus over 3,000 pounds of chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides per annum.
"Ecotourism." Oftentimes, even environmentally savvy travelers have a negative impact. By traveling to witness remote natural sites like rainforests and other dwindling and at-risk spots, tourists often damage the things they came to see.
Invasive Organisms. Tourism can spread non-native species. The increased human presence from many diverse geographical regions has a detrimental effect on native plants and introduces non-native species in these areas.
Negative Effects of Human Interaction With Wildlife. Increased human presence can severely damage the delicate balance of the food webs, ecological communities, and keystone species of an area.
Depletion of Natural Resources. Tourism can put pressure on natural resources and encourages over-consumption. This is particularly damaging in spots where resources like food and water are already scarce.
Environmental Pros and Cons of Tourism
If managed properly, it can provide economic incentives for a place to preserve, maintain, and regenerate the local history, infrastructure, and environment.
Tourism often causes environmental damage to both the local infrastructure and the flora, fauna, and historical sites in a location.
Ecotourism might promote environmental awareness and activism.
Tourism depletes natural resources, which can be dangerous in areas where resources are scarce.
Tourism contributes to pollution.
The fact that television and tourism have made the whole world accessible has created the illusion that we enjoy intimate knowledge of other places, when we barely scratch their surface. For the vast majority, the knowledge of Thailand or Sri Lanka acquired through tourism consists of little more than the whereabouts of the beach.
— Martin Jacques
Cultural Benefits of Traveling
The Opportunity to Challenge Stereotypes
When you visit another culture, you have the opportunity to be exposed to unfamiliar traditions and perspectives and to gain a broader, more informed, and kinder view of both the people and places you encounter, as well as of humanity and the world in general. Preconceptions and stereotypes might be replaced by complexity, empathy, and first-hand knowledge.
On the other hand, those that travel with a group and don't interact with locals or merely visit tourist sites and never wander off the beaten path may not enjoy this benefit at all. Merely visiting a place is not enough to expose a person to culture. Learning about people takes effort.
Gaining Cultural Sensitivity
An important part of understanding a culture is getting to know its unique social manners and etiquette. Things that you think are normal or benign might be interpreted as offensive, and vice versa. Wearing shoes indoors, showing skin, pointing with your index finger, and making certain sounds might be considered rude in some places, so it's wise to do your research on the local customs and morays ahead of time.
An Authentic Experience of Culture
Experiencing a community's traditions, rituals, festivals, celebrations, and rites can be a wonderful way to gain insight into a culture. When the local people get together to observe a tradition that has been performed for many generations, it is a great opportunity to understand that culture more deeply.
However in many touristed places, you'll find traditional dance, music, and other rites performed merely for entertainment and profit. For example when staged for tourists, the Hawaiian luau, Spanish flamenco dances, and Balinese ceremonies may lose their original meaning, energy, and purpose and become merely spectacle.
Cultural Pros and Cons of Tourism
It promotes cross-cultural connections, appreciation, and understanding.
When tourists don't understand or respect local culture and traditions, culture clashes result.
The commercialization of a culture can undermine its meaning and detract from tradition.
Top 10 Tourist Destinations (Cities)
According to MasterCard's Global Destination Cities Index, the top 10 tourist cities for 2018 were:
- Bangkok, Thailand: 20.05 million tourists
- London, England: 19.83 million visitors
- Paris, France: 17.44 million people visiting
- Singapore: 13.91 million tourists
- New York, USA: 13.13 million visitors
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 12.58 million visitors
- Tokyo, Japan: 11.93 million tourists
- Istanbul, Turkey: 10.7 million visitors
- Seoul, South Korea: 9.54 million visitors
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: What are the benefits of tourism?
Answer: Tourism can bring with it economic gains, jobs, investment, improvements to travel infrastructure, as well as an increase in a location's international visibility and standing.
Question: What are the disadvantages for the host of a tourist destination, that is, if tourists don't respect the locals?
Answer: In some tourist destinations, there can be problems with tourists not respecting local customs and laws. For instance, drunken or lewd behavior, dressing inappropriately in a conservative country, illegal drug use, or child prostitution can cause issues. As well as causing public upset and opening up wider social problems, it can lead to issues regarding the policing and control of such behavior. In extreme cases, some destinations have opted to either limit or even curtail tourism altogether, rather than endure its negatives.
Question: What are the challenges of relying on tourism as the primary economic activity?
Answer: Being overly reliant on tourism might result in a number of problems such as:
1. Broad economic difficulties if there is a natural disaster, terrorist attack, or some other event which diminishes the number of visitors.
2. Damage and wear to cultural sites due to too many visitors.
3. Local employment becoming seasonal and mainly low paid service industry positions.
4. Social problems such as crime, drunkenness, and sex tourism may increase.
Question: What makes a country a good tourist destination?
Answer: Common features of a popular destination might include: desirable climate, cultural and historical sites of interest, entertainment and leisure facilities, iconic architecture or landscape, a safe environment, good value for money, friendliness towards visitors, relaxed atmosphere, developed infrastructure for travel and hospitality.
Question: What benefits do emerging destinations bring in terms of tourism?
Answer: Emerging destinations generate excitement and attract the more adventurous and experienced tourists who are looking for a new experience. They are great for introducing visitors to a particular city, region, or country that has previously been neglected. If successful, emerging destinations bring development, economic growth, and employment to the area.
Question: What are the environmental advantages of tourism?
Answer: Environmental advantages of tourism might include the funding of environmental projects or maintenance of wildlife protection and habitats. Travel infrastructure can be developed that benefits both tourists and the environment. As tourism expands, less environmentally friendly industries can be phased out, and local eco-friendly crafts can be promoted. Workers who might otherwise be tempted to earn their money from things like logging, poaching, and other potentially environmentally damaging roles can be employed in tourism. Tourism also provides an incentive for beaches and areas of natural beauty to be maintained.
Question: What is Swaziland's appeal for tourists?
Answer: Swaziland offers many experiences that make it an attractive destination, including: wildlife, a lively and colorful local culture, rafting and mountain biking, stunning scenery, and a variety of accommodation options for travelers.
Question: Is tourism a good thing for the economy?
Answer: In a narrow financial sense, a well-organized tourism industry is almost always effective at bringing in money. Success can bring an over-reliance on tourism, however, which can be problematic in the event of such things as a natural disaster, or a terrorist attack, which tends to deter tourists. Tourism can also distort a local economy, creating lots of low paid service industry jobs, sometimes at the expense of potentially more skilled and lucrative industries, such as high-tech or manufacturing.
© 2012 Paul Goodman
Abc on September 12, 2020:
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Lyn on August 17, 2020:
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Rleigh123 on March 20, 2020:
Another negative is when overconfident or naive tourists go into dangerous areas and then get hurt or killed
Well-meaning people try to downplay the dangers of some locations, when the reality is that it is not safe.
Similarly, when people are on a trip, they tend to let their guard down, becoming an easier target.
Josh on February 27, 2020:
What is the access date of this article.
Martin Hambu. on February 27, 2020:
I just want to give a thanks to Mr.paul goodman.this artical was very helpful.
Paul Goodman (author) from Florida USA on February 23, 2020:
You cannot copy the entire page. That would be a breach of copyright law. You can copy one or two short excerpts, say a couple of individual paragraphs, and use it somewhere else, but any more than that is a no-no.
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si liang on February 09, 2020:
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athia on December 07, 2019:
hi...this article is really informative,and you presented in a inrtesting way.thankyou
ABDUL ONE on November 05, 2019:
Add Your own
List any five countries that Nigerians frequent for any particular kind of tourism and state reason for it
Precious on November 04, 2019:
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Moi les yeux ça va mai on October 31, 2019:
It is very good and detailed in a way that I actually enjoy reading so keep up the hard and the good work
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Crown on September 22, 2019:
I like, it's useful to me a little
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I love this article it's really of help just keep it going.
Pouya on September 04, 2019:
Hi guys im from iran,kurdstan province,mariwan city.that every year lots of tourists come here due to zeribar lake and they have more advantages than disadvantages
And this writting it is so helpful to me,thanks a billion
GOFAMODIMO THOLE on September 01, 2019:
Goodman is not merely a name...but it has an excellent meaning...This information is very essential for studies and reference.
Padma... on August 10, 2019:
Really I liked this article. It's more informative. please keep going....
Virgomajolica on July 26, 2019:
Thank you for the very informative article. Please continue to share more of your work!
me on June 14, 2019:
Thank you so much! Please write about the advantages and disadvantages of tourism on small islands. Especially, to the environment and the development.
albatool on June 03, 2019:
What are some other benefits and disadvantages of tourism on the host country?
Johan Smulders from East London, South Africa on May 31, 2019:
A well researched article. As someone who has travelled extensively in the USA and somewhat in Europe my family and I have enjoyed our world in a wider context. A 6 month road trip in the USA in 2009 was a great experience. At the same time we now choose to travel more extensively in our own country and in so doing make a contribution to the South African economy. Sensitivity to the culture of a country is vitally important and we have always been aware of that. We have noticed that not everyone has however. Thanks for a good article!
Bono on May 21, 2019:
Thank you, you helped me get an idea about my essay.
Real G on May 06, 2019:
this is a proof
Rondell on April 28, 2019:
Studying for cxc 2019
Agbor E. Ojong Noble on April 03, 2019:
what are the reasons for tourism taking a centre stage in national economy?
scott on March 27, 2019:
angeles on March 25, 2019:
thank you very much it helped me do my assigment
Jack on December 04, 2018:
alamin on December 03, 2018:
very useful in doing my hand out
lolzer on November 26, 2018:
Use this website,
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lawal ideraoluwa on November 06, 2018:
thanks it is very helpful
smile on August 23, 2018:
this article is very much helpful for me.... special thank to author
chelsea on May 14, 2018:
It,s very helpful but not to me
KitKat gal on May 04, 2018:
Very helpful! Thanks for the article
Jack Jones on March 28, 2018:
A very good article
amol.singh on March 19, 2018:
Anna haihambo on February 10, 2018:
The article is very interesting and helpful , but still need someone to give me more information on tourism history
Nishanth on November 27, 2017:
I support for disadvantage because it is important to protect resources than money.isnt it?
student on October 13, 2017:
very helpful in doing my sba
Ryan N. on August 15, 2017:
Racism is also one of the problems. Pls include that their as well. It is a major problem in the developing countries. Pls look into it.
Ryan N. on August 15, 2017:
I totally agree with the disadvatages of the tourism industry. It is very rare in Sri Lanka that we get disrespectful foreigners but its a very annoying presence! It has to stop. I don't think that its fair of the locals.
Ryan N. on August 15, 2017:
I loved the definitions and it certainly helped me with my assignment. This website was very helpful and provided a vast amount of imformation. Thank u.
amanda mutara on July 13, 2017:
its true tourism is now the source of income in most developing countries and also local are now being employed although some of the jobs are seasonal but its better for the locals
Gary Anderson from Las Vegas, Nevada on July 05, 2017:
Tourism is important because it acts like an export. Cut off tourism and you cut off the exporting effect on the economy. Great article but I am amused that Las Vegas is not at the top of total tourists list.
kezy on May 23, 2017:
Qpalzm on April 28, 2017:
I got 30 marks because of this website
Bakajikaye Abel. on April 26, 2017:
Tourism have the both effects, bad and good but as long as it have the good effect, all i think is the good of it.
Caralee W Davis on March 08, 2017:
So useful and this is really good
Sujan Rai on February 25, 2017:
"Although often jobs are created by tourism, most are relatively low level, such as bar work, hotel service, restaurant serving, and so forth. They also have little prospect for promotion"
Well I think that everyone has a role to play, and that every job fulfills a need.every job is equal.
hi on January 04, 2017:
hong kong is not china ok?????????????
shama on November 27, 2016:
can I ask about who is the publisher of this article ??
Bhagya on October 23, 2016:
TOURISM does both good and bad to a country..However, it is indeed a major source of income to a country.....
Ezile on October 17, 2016:
Tourism does more
heather on October 13, 2016:
how does the tourism effect new York in a positive and negative way
Coryn on September 16, 2016:
Would there be a way of having tourism without the disadvantages such as loss of culture?
bijay on July 20, 2016:
Archie on June 28, 2016:
Wizz jug on June 22, 2016:
Tourism does more
harm than good
Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on May 25, 2016:
Very informative and intelligent analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the tourism on our economy.
Jeremy on March 14, 2016:
zahra on November 19, 2015:
the ad was useful thank you!
Crissta on September 24, 2015:
i found it quite useful, THANKS!
mukasa samson on September 10, 2015:
thank u for this article.
adeola on June 30, 2015:
lavender on May 28, 2015:
Jennifer.Stone on May 12, 2015:
tourist may bring disease into the country.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on April 06, 2015:
true, tourism brings in money from outside but there are pros and cons for every country. The citizens will face price fluctuation which is one of the disadvantages
Nishi on March 26, 2015:
soolaf on March 09, 2015:
Thank so mich this article help me :-)
Mariam on December 22, 2014:
Tourism has some how improved
aysha on July 21, 2014:
can someone put it in easier and shorter word i don't get big adult words please
lili on July 21, 2014:
pramodgokhale from Pune( India) on March 15, 2013:
I am an Indian, Indian government encouraged tourism and hospitality industry has grown since 7Os , generated wealth and employment.
In the third world , tourism is promoted to earn foreign exchange and flow utilized for essential imports.
Tourism and tourist, it's multicultural concept and i feel it's good cosmopolitan world without borders, short term assimilation with territory other than homeland.
employment and revenue are the important issues of the tourism but at the cost of grass root people. In large cities star hotels consume more water and electricity and local people suffer the most.
Small nations without resources, then tourism is the only source to run the economy.
If there is recession then flow of tourists reduce and affecting business and employees lose the jobs.Human resources development
suggests that the people should be more technical and blue collar workforce is always necessary to run economy.Hotel ownership change hands then they recruit new people and sacking old
employees. It causes social unrest if wages to unemployed not provided by government in that country.
tanveerbadyari on March 10, 2013:
it destroys the beauty and serenity of a that place.
waz on February 25, 2013:
zeyad hosny on December 17, 2012:
tanveerbadyari on December 14, 2012:
mass tourism is the biggest disadvantages.
lovely on April 01, 2012:
good to know about
Paul Goodman (author) from Florida USA on March 12, 2012:
You can link to it, but please do not copy it.
Nirajan Chaulagain on March 12, 2012:
100% true hub, am taking your article in my web. can i?
actually am from Nepal.
Anastasia Kingsley from Croatia, Europe on March 08, 2012:
Great article. This is true. Tourism bring in money, especially in poorer countries, but the majority of work in these industries is done by women and children. Opportunities are there, but controls must be in place to avoid long term social problems, like teenaged drunkenness, employee abuses and so on. Voted up and interesting.
Chankeylong from Banana Republic on February 17, 2012:
I never thought of tourists as of the potential hazard to the nature and local culture, but yeap, you are definitely right.
Are there any ways to avoid the damage tourists can cause?
pmccray from Utah on January 23, 2012:
Truthful hub. Voted up, marked useful and interesting.
Stclairjack from middle of freekin nowhere,... the sticks on January 19, 2012:
IndiePharm from Niš, Serbia on January 19, 2012:
But generally, tourism is a desire for both sides - tourists and inhabitants. Although there are bad sides of tourism, and there will always be, I believe that tourism is a modern-day profit, like agriculture and industry during last couple of hundred years. Tourism is great. :)