The Advantages and Disadvantages of Tourism
So many places in the world rely heavily on tourism as a key source of income and employment nowadays, as well as a way of showing off national and local heritage, plus perceived successes.
Unfortunately, tourism can also be a source of problems too, especially if it is not managed correctly. A constant flow of foreign visitors can, for instance, undermine the beauty, uniqueness, character, and social coherence of a tourist destination over time.
It is easy to underestimate the scale of world tourism without being aware of the figures. There were estimated to be around 983 million international tourist arrivals In 2011 — this is nearly a 5 percent increase on the numbers in the previous year.
Travelers in those sorts of numbers can easily present huge challenges and problems for many destinations, including transport, places to stay, policing, and maintenance.
This article lists the main advantages and disadvantages of tourism.
I don't look down on tourism. I live in Hawaii where we have 7 million visitors a year. If they weren't there, there would be no economy. So I understand why a tourist economy is necessary.— Paul Theroux
In the middle ages people were tourists because of their religion, whereas now they are tourists because tourism is their religion.— Robert Runcie
- It brings in money. This is probably the main advantage of tourism and the reason why it has been promoted so much in recent years in developing countries especially. Whether in developing or developed countries, the income generated can make up a significant proportion of the national income.
- It provides jobs for the locals. Hotels, bars, transport, shops, and restaurants all need staffing. Tourism can provide much-needed employment for people.
- It raises the profile of the place generally. Tourism gives the locality a chance to show itself off and raise its profile in the world.
- It can provide a incentive for investment in infrastructure such as roads and rail networks, as well as funding local medical and education facilities.
- It can provide economic incentives for a place to preserve, regenerate, and provide upkeep in their urban and wildlife areas.
- Visitors promote international links, which can provide more business and cultural connections in the medium to long term.
Did You Know?
- The money generated by tourism accounts for 5 % of global GDP
- For every 1 job created in the core tourism industry, around 1.5 extra, or indirect jobs are created in the wider tourism-related economy.
- Tourism provides jobs for 1 out of every 12 workers in advanced and emerging economies.
The global phenomenon of poverty tourism - or 'poorism' - has become increasingly popular during the past few years. Tourists pay to be guided through the favelas of Brazil and the shantytowns of South Africa. The recently opened Los Angeles Gang Tour carries visitors through battle-scarred territories of urban violence and deprivation.— Leslie Jamison
- Tourism can often cause environmental damage with things like pollution and forest fires. Even if tourists behave responsibly, the sheer number of the them can cause problems. Things like ancient buildings, monuments, and temples often struggle to cope with the vast amounts of tourist traffic and they suffer wear and tear or damage.
- 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.
- Tourists can often lack respect for local traditions and culture, not following local dress standards, getting drunk in public, or behaving rudely or inappropriately towards locals.
- 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.
- Tourism jobs are quite commonly seasonal and insecure with no extra benefits, such as pensions, sick pay, or health care. Some areas can be inundated with visitors during busy times, and then virtually deserted for many months.
- 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.
- Often times, most of the tourism industry (travel companies and hotels, for one) in a developing country is actually owned by big foreign companies. They make the major profits, leaving local businesses with relatively little benefit.
- There is often an imbalance, where it becomes so successful 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. This can lead to political upheaval, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters, and tourism consequently dips or dries up altogether.
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
Top 10 Tourist Destinations (Cities)
According to MasterCard's new Global Destination Cities Index, the top 10 tourist cities for 2013 were:
- Bangkok, Thailand, with 15.98 million tourists.
- London, England, with 15.96 million visitors
- Paris, France, with 13.92 million people visiting.
- Singapore, with 11.75 tourists.
- New York, USA, with 11.52 million visitors.
- Istanbul, Turkey, with 10.37 million people visiting.
- Dubai, with 9.9 million tourists.
- Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 9.2 million visitors.
- Hong Kong, China, 8.72 million people visiting.
- Barcelona, Spain, 8.41 million tourists.
Tourism, human circulation considered as consumption is fundamentally nothing more than the leisure of going to see what has become banal.— Guy Debord
Do you think that overall, the advantages of tourism outweight the disadvantages?
Questions & Answers
What are the environmental advantages of tourism?
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.
What are the benefits of tourism?
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.
What are the challenges of relying on tourism as the primary economic activity?
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.
Is tourism a good thing for the economy?
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