Tourism - a blessing and blight for host communities

Term Paper, 2011

28 Pages, Grade: B+




Literature Review- ‘Tourism both a blight and a blessing’

Theoretical Analysis

Tourism as a blessing for Trinidad and Tobago

Tourism as a blight for Trinidad and Tobago

Policy Alternatives/Recommendations




Definitions: An International Tourist is a person who travels to a country other than his/her country of usual residence for at least one night but less than one year, and whose main purpose of visit is other than the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the country visited.

Regional Tourist refers to a person who travels to a country within the geographic region in which he/she lives other than his/her country of usual residence for at least one night but less than one year, and the main purpose of whose visit is other than the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the country visited.

Domestic or Local Tourist is a person who travels to a region within the country in which he/she usually resides for at least one night but less than one year, and whose main purpose of visit is other than the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the region visited.

A Tourist refers to a person who travels away from home staying away for at least one night. A tourist travels for different purposes such as business, leisure, conference and incentive, sport/sun and sea. In Trinidad and Tobago context, a tourist means one who travels to Trinidad and Tobago for business or pleasure or one who travels within Trinidad and Tobago for pleasure (Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Development Policy 2010).

Tourism is defined as all travel for whatever purpose that results in one or more nights being spent away from home and the sum of the associated services and activities (e.g. hotel accommodation, tours, shopping, and entertainment). According to WTO tourism comprises the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes.

The tourism industry is the world’s fastest growing industry and largest employer. In the Caribbean, tourism it is one of the largest and most dynamic industries. Given its economic importance, tourism has become fully incorporated in the deliberate development of Caribbean countries. In Trinidad and Tobago, tourism is one of the larger growing service sectors. Tourism has been identified as a sector that will play a critical role in the nation’s drive toward economic diversification and sustainability (TDC 2006).

The islands of Trinidad and Tobago are distinctive in both nature and appeal. While the duality presents a challenge for developing a logical approach for the country, it offers an incredible opportunity to create two distinctive tourism experiences, each competitive in their own right and is even more attractive if taken together.

According to Yao, Krutizinna, and Chen et. Al. (2006), Trinidad is in many respects the dominant island, with approximately 1.2 million residents as compared to 50,000 in Tobago. Many of the largest Tourism in Trinidad and Tobago Caribbean conglomerates and financial institutions are headquartered in Trinidad. Leisure travel is also important; the well-known Carnival in February accounts for nearly 10% of annual travel to the country. Tourism caters to business travellers and a few large branded hotels and a host of smaller independent hotels and guest houses. Beyond this supply of hospitality services, little organized tourism activities are offered in Trinidad. There are various local sports and entertainment-related events such as cricket tournaments, ethnic holiday celebrations and music concerts that attract significant local and often regional attendance.

While Trinidad’s economy depends only marginally on tourism, Tobago’s is largely driven by tourism which accounts for 46% of the island’s GDP, 57% of employment and 96% of its exports. The comparable numbers for Trinidad are 14%, 17%, and 16% respectively. Tobago visitors primarily demand sun, sea, and sand, similar to many of the other tourism-focused islands in the Caribbean. While many of those islands have large resorts and hotel complexes plus smaller-scale luxury accommodations, Tobago’s supply consists of only a few resorts and a large (Yao, Krutizinna, and Chen et. Al. (2006).

The tourism sector is as significant to the Tobago economy as the oil and manufacturing sectors are to the Trinidad economy. In 2007, domestic arrivals to Tobago were 11.4 times larger than international stay-over arrivals, demonstrating the critical importance of the domestic market to the development of tourism in Tobago. In addition, most of the tourist accommodation establishments in Trinidad and Tobago are locally owned, allowing locals to meaningfully benefit from the sector.

The Ministry of Tourism of Trinidad and Tobago has stated that Tourism provides entrepreneurial opportunities for small operators, can foster balanced development and empower rural communities, youth and women, and can dynamise other sectors of the economy, particularly the agriculture sector. “The Tourism Industry includes everything that a traveller does on a trip – eat, sleep, party, attend a conference, rent a car, take a taxi, shop, change foreign currency etc. It means that all of the economic activities of farmers, fishermen, cooks, shopkeepers, bartenders, tour guides, banks, hotels, carnival bands, entertainers, electricians, customs, immigration and literally every job that impacts directly or indirectly on tourism are all part of the tourism value chain. For specialist events, sports, and weddings the value chain is even greater. It is clear that the tourism industry is far-reaching and is indeed everybody’s business”, (Tourism policy report 2010).

Griffith (2010) calculated that over the past five years Trinidad and Tobago has received an average of just over 442,000 international visitors which is fairly a small share of the overall Caribbean market. The cruise industry has been growing, with 121, 712 passenger arrivals in the 2009-2010 seasons – again a small share of the Caribbean market. The industry contributes $TT14.2billion approximately 4% to Trinidad and Tobago’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and directly and indirectly provides 88,000 jobs approximately 14.9% of the twin island’s employment.

Wallace (2009, 187) alleged that “tourism is viewed as an easy way of generating much needed income, particularly foreign exchange…the economic spin-offs and benefits of tourism are viewed as the most important aspects of tourism”.

Griffith (2010) said that tourism is an important platform for the creation of sustainable employment opportunities, and the creation of international relationships. He further submitted that it is a well known and undisputable that tourism, both locally and internationally is a powerful catalyst for economic growth and diversification, job creation and poverty alleviation. It is the fastest growing industry in the world; however despite all of its blessings, he stated that the escalating crime has heightened the vulnerability of the tourism sector.

Griffith (2010) further alleged that over the past two or three years persistent concerns have been voiced about the safety and security of tourists visiting our twin island Republic. Trinidad and Tobago has been rocked by some horrific acts of violence against visitors; particularly on the isle of Tobago. In Trinidad also visitors to our sites and attractions suffer at times from scams, robberies, harassment and other criminal activities. Additionally, he stated that this has resulted in several precautionary travel advisories being put out by the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States of America. Furthermore crimes against tourists on one island can negatively affect other islands within the Caribbean region.

Wallace (2009) submitted that “…as the economic impacts of tourism are more readily and easily measurable, other types of impacts tend to remain more hidden, particularly the negative social impacts.” He further posits that these social impacts can sustain additional considerable cost than the economic gains; such social impacts include the increase occurrence of crime, which has been in a steady upsurge committed by locals and visitors in the tourists’ destination.

In is known to all that tourism in Trinidad and Tobago has not yet reached its full potential. The time has however come for the industry to unleash its true potential and boost economic growth and the positive impacts; however, in so doing there has been a substantial upsurge in the social ills and negative impacts of the industry, which affects and stigmatizes the country as a whole. Therefore it is against this milieu that the leading purpose of this research paper is to critically analyse that tourism can be both a blessing and blight, with major focus on Trinidad and Tobago; additionally proposing policy alternatives and recommendations to alleviate the problems that will be identified.

Literature Review - “tourism as both a blight and a blessing”.

Wallace (2006) submits that “tourism can be both a blessing and a blight for host communities.” He further posits as the ecological and economic impacts of tourism loan themselves to the simple and object dimensions, the depressing social impacts are highly qualitative, subjective in nature and normally difficult to evaluate and quantify. Wallace (2009, 191) further postulated that tourism impact in an economic context which can be measured using indicators such as money. Similarly, the environmental brunt can be deliberated on vegetation loss but the social impacts are infrequently measured.

Mathieson and Wall (1982, 177) stated that “there are also those impacts that may be identifiable, such as increased crime rates, drug abuse and prostitution; however, they are difficult to attribute to tourism rather than other factors of influence such as media intrusion and modernization.” Abdullah et al, (1974), alleged that “there is no doubt that tourism is beneficial to host communities, however the negative costs do accrue”.

Wallace (2009, 197) stated that “there is a perception among the ordinary man on the street that tourism is not all good”. This point has been validated by Mak (2004, 9) whom stated that “people have become aware that tourism can be a blight as well as a blessing and are demanding a more careful evaluation of its benefits and costs”. Additionally, Mak (2004, 3) submits that the pervasive problem of tourism can also lead to the loss of cultural identity and increase antisocial delinquent activities which include crime and prostitution. Furthermore (cited in Wallace 2009, 197), Fotsch (2004, 780) stated that “tourism can be understood in its growing importance for urban economies, however, he submits that ‘tourism has consequences beyond its economic costs.” Young (1973) in his article ‘Tourism: blessing or blight’ has established empirical evidence to support the negative consequences of tourism which include specific environmental, political, socio-cultural and economic consequences as alleged crisis of mass tourism.

In another research, Croall (1995: 1) stated that “A spectre is haunting our planet: the spectre of tourism. It’s said that travel broadens the mind. Today, in its modern guise of tourism, it can also ruin landscapes, destroy communities, pollute air and water, trivialise cultures, bring about uniformity, and generally contribute to the continuing degradation of life on our planet”

Wall and Mathieson (2006) argued that the important point is that the environmental, social and economic costs of tourism were increasingly seen as outweighing its developmental benefits; in other words, tourism development (particularly mass tourism) was increasingly considered to be unsustainable. Additionally, Ash (1975, cited in Wallace 2009, 198) supports the view that “tourism is all good and that it contributes towards the development of the third world”, however, Britton and Clarke (1997) pointed out that “mass tourism may have collaborated in hindering the permanency of local cultures and in spreading processes like prostitution and delinquency”.

In another study, Poon (1993, 287) submits that tourism is twofold, it is a double edged sword which can be a potential blessing and it can also be a blight and many tourist destinations benefit from the advantages of flows of tourists currencies that they bring. However, on the contrary, Poon argued that “they have not completely avoided some of tourism’s negative consequences- prostitution, crime, deviance, commercialisation of culture and changing social norms and values”. Therefore, according to Brown (1992) “Tourism can be both a blight and a blessing to host communities.”

Theoretical Analysis

Routine activities theory states that criminal acts are routine activities for offenders. Three elements are required for the crime to take place: a suitable victim or target, a motivated offender, usually someone who has adopted a criminal lifestyle, and a relative absence of “capable guardians”—law enforcement officers, security guards, etc. to police tourist areas. The key to minimizing crimes, according to the routine activities theory, is increasing the presence of law enforcement in tourist areas. In tourist destinations when these three elements are present it is perceived that this situation increase the likely of criminal activities. Tourist destinations seem to fit into this framework. Usually, tourists make a suitable target because of their tendency to carry large amounts of cash and unknowingly roam in areas that residents would consider dangerous. The offenders are motivated to victimize tourists because of their view of them as the “haves” and view of themselves as the “have-nots”. In addition, because many tourist destinations are not willing to admit that tourist crime is a problem, they may not have the “capable guardians” or law enforcement agents in place in order to deter tourist crime (Webb et. al. 1998, 7).

The hot spot theory focuses on the locations which “provide convergent opportunities in which predatory crimes can occur” (Crotts, 1996). Ryan and Kinder (1996) refer to hotspots as “crimogenic” places containing bars, nightclubs, and strip joints catering to tourists who may provide additional services which may include drugs and prostitution; this in effect increases the likely of tourists engaging in antisocial criminal behaviour. Tourists visiting these areas are more likely to be victimized by crime (de Albuquerque & McElroy, 1999).

Bernasco and Luykx (2003) reported that three factors: attractiveness, opportunity and accessibility, pull crimes against property. Jud (1975) studied the economic models of criminal behaviour of Becker and Landes (1974) and Ehrlich (1973). The main assumption underlying their models/theory was that illegitimate activity responds directly to economic incentives. Jud (1975) reported that amount of criminal activity against foreign tourists’ increases as the number of illegal opportunities increase. In other words, more foreign tourists arriving result in more opportunities for crime against property.


Excerpt out of 28 pages


Tourism - a blessing and blight for host communities
The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine
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Wallace (2006) submits that tourism can be both a blessing and blight for host communities. With reference to any Caribbean island, critically analyse this statement and explain the conflicts that might occur between tourists and individuals who reside in host communities. Also, propose policy alternatives and recommendations to alleviate the problems identified.
wallace, with, caribbean, also, Juvenile Delinquency
Quote paper
MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice Stacy Ramdhan (Author), 2011, Tourism - a blessing and blight for host communities, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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