To what extent is tourism a blessing or a curse for the world?
The tourism industry has a lot of different influences on the environment, on local people and on economic issues of all destinations. In this writing assignment important positive and negative impacts will be discussed by using particular sources of experts in order to analyze the question of 'to what extent is tourism a blessing or a curse?'. The topics of UNESCO sites, wildlife-tourism, authenticity, sex tourism, volunteer tourism and sustainability are being taken into consideration in order to analyze the tourism.
Tourism - A blessing or a curse?
Referring to the guest lecture of Dr. Carol Westrik, tourists can be a big advantage to keep especially UNESCO heritage sites in good conditions. To explain this effect, it can be mentioned that lots of tourists visit beautiful natural or interesting cultural places because they are a listed as an UNESCO heritage site. If tourists explore one of these heritage sites and they observe something which is not what they expected, they will get in contact with the UNESCO. Because of a complaint, UNESCO will get in touch with the site and the consequence is that the site has to react. Logically all the listed heritage sites do not want to receive complaints and so they protect their places and take care of them. Hence, tourists travelling to UNESCO world heritage sites are a blessing to all those beautiful places. On the other hand through the high amount of tourists the sites need the protection they maybe would not need when not being on the UNESCO list (Westrik, 2015).
Wildlife-Tourism is a very common way of travel nowadays. Especially elephants are being used as a tourist attraction to provide legendary elephant rides or to watch them doing different acts. The bad side of wildlife-tourism according to elephants is that they do not live in their natural environment. Elephants are being kept in captivity and need to learn a lot of things they would not practice naturally. It has to be kept in mind that elephants are still wild animals even if they are already born in captivity. Due to that fact, elephants have to be trained and often they will not learn voluntary so violence is part of the training they get. Moreover the training is stressful for those animals and some of them stop eating and drinking and finally die (Case 1, 2015). Furthermore wildlife tourism in National Parks can be bad for the development of the parks or for local communities even if there can be a monetary support. On one hand the nature may suffer from the tourists and also the local community feels disturbed by the amount of tourists. But on the other hand, the tourists bring money into the National Parks which can be taken for hiring rangers or for conservation programs in general (Boyd, 2002).
In order to discuss if tourism is a blessing or a curse for the world, authenticity has also to be taken into account. The new tourists, which are seeking entertainment very rapidly because they do not have much time but also search for authenticity during their travels, are a curse. They accept fake experiences and are not interested in going deeper into the history of a particular culture or tribe. The place where local people live their real life is not visited by the tourists. Many locals are even paid for performing their culture to tourists (Kadijk, 2015). Furthermore the different destinations in the world earn a lot of money by providing authenticity. For instance in Venice the famous Gondolas are only used for tourist rides nowadays. It is a curse, because it is provided authenticity and not the real life anymore. But of course the search of tourists for authenticity brings money into the destinations and lead to more job opportunities for locals (Case 2, 2015).
In search for authenticity tourists book tours to see original tribes. Even if it is not the main money the tribe receives, and tour operators as well as photographers are earning the most from it, it is still revenue the tribes get in addition. Sometimes tribes are not happy with the high amount of tourists and film teams, because in their opinion they are not payed fairly and they have been robbed out in the past (Authenticized). Also in other regions tribes were not treated fairly by tourists. For Instance, the Andaman Island Tribe is often seen like animals to tourists. There was no humanity shown while tourists threw food in front of the tribe's feet (Chamberlain, 2012). At first appearance tourism is a curse for the tribe, because of the bad payment conditions and the penetration of tourists, film teams and photographers. But with a deeper look inside one can see that the tourist excursions are also a blessing for the tribe. Actually the tribe cannot evade the present life other people live. For instance, the tribes are wearing normal clothes when they visit a city, they have mobile phones available and the younger generations are dreaming of a European life and are not that much interested in the old culture. With the arrival of tourists in their small village, the tribe is demonstrating regularly their dances and different specified handlings in the everyday life. The effect is that the tribes are able to keep their culture in mind. Even for the youngest generation it is impossible to forget about the different practices of their ancestors. The preservation of the culture is made by tourists and so tourists are a blessing for old tribes that will have the chance for no disappearance in the globalizing world (Authenticized).
The important field of sex tourism should be noted as well. In the poorer regions of the world sex tourism is used by locals in order to earn more money. The movie "Paradies Liebe" (Seidl, n.d.) shows that many young men in Kenya are waiting on the beautiful beaches for European women to sell their bodies and love. For the destination of Kenya sex tourism is more a curse than a blessing. In the entire world Kenya is famous for sex tourism and not for its beauty. That means that other tourism segments are not requested in Kenya. It cannot be discussed whether the local men like to sell their bodies or not. But it can be said, that for most of them it is the only chance to earn money for them and their families.
Unfortunately sexual exploitation of children is common in poor countries as well. It definitely is a curse which belongs to tourism. Children, teenagers or their families need money to live a better life and so pornography and prostitution is a solution for them. But tourism not only harms victims of sex tourism. With the help of tour operators, which can raise awareness about the topic directly to travelers or report suspicious behavior and transfer it to the police, childsex tourism can be inhibited. Also the hotels have an eye on the situation in their business and if the hotel staff works together, they can take action and call the local police (Verheijen, 2015).
With volunteer tourism locals, non-profit organizations and the volunteer are benefiting. But from different experience reports (Bergsma, 2015) it can be analyzed, that not everything about volunteer tourism is useful. For instance, in wildlife projects great experiences for the volunteers are given and also the flora and fauna will not be harmed by a high turnover rate. But in contrast there are projects where experienced workers are needed, like in building projects. The non-experiences volunteers cannot help in those projects, so it costs more time than it would when an experienced local does the building. In the video 'The voluntourist' (Sanguinetti, 2015) it is clarified that volunteer tourism is a unique experience for volunteers but also that no skills are needed and the timeframe of working as a volunteer is mostly short. A fact is that projects where volunteers work get donations and the helping hand. But the whole business for organizations is selling poverty. This means that most of the money is received by organizations and not by the projects in need. In addition the high turnover rate of volunteers, especially in teaching projects, is a disaster for the children. This form of tourism can harm children, because they see people leaving every day and a good education cannot be guaranteed. Karin van Mullem (Mullem, 2015) clarified in her documentary about volunteers in orphanages that more negative than positive impacts are given in this kind of volunteering. It can be seen as a curse that the aim of voluntourists in orphanages is mainly to travel. In addition they are bored about the work with children and have no enthusiasm. Sometimes they also do not speak the official language which confuses children, because they do not understand them well. Furthermore a high turnover rate is given and so children have to get used to another volunteer every few weeks.
On the other hand it should be clarified that the orphanages receive money from the volunteers which can be spent useful and of course the volunteers are able to support orphanages in many daily situations.
To find out if tourism is a blessing or a curse for the world the sustainability aspect in general has also to be studied. Travelers are only able to see the world with the use of different transports. Through this fuel consumption CO2 emissions are being created which harms the environment (Page, 2009). However, Conrady and Buck (2010) appeal for a more sustainable energy consumption in the future. Leaving the energy consumption out of minds means that climate changes will grow rapidly in the future due to tourism transports (Roland Conrady, 2010). Also the high amount of laundry in different accommodations has to be mastered which is only possible by a high water consumption. Nature-based or Ecotourism is created in order to dam the wastage but this is only a small help in the big tourism industry. In addition due to tourism coastal pollution can be observed which leads to damages of marine and coastal resources (Page, 2009).
The stakeholders who are involved in the tourism industry have the responsibility to make sure that in all fields of tourism the harm of people and animals or damage of nature is as less as possible. UNESCO is responsible for checking if the regulations are met by the sites otherwise the site has to be released from the world heritage list. The first aim for tour operators is to make high profits but to be a reliable tour operator they also have the responsibility to provide important information about the destination their customers are going to. Reliable tour operators let their customers know about the negative impacts of wildlife-tourism and they also should inform travelers to poorer countries about sex- or childsex tourism. Also accommodations have the responsibility to inform guests about existing problems in their homeland and to watch for signs on sex tourism carefully. Furthermore the locals need to take care of their habitat and should protect it. Even if the tourism looks like a great additional income for them, they have to think about the future and about what could happen if their special area would disappear one day. The biggest group of stakeholders are the tourists. Like the locals they are responsible for preserving the environment they are going to visit and valuing the cultures and habits which appear there. In order to bring a blessing to their travel destination, tourist should inform themselves about the cultures before their trip starts. Also photographer or film teams are accountable for a respectful commodification of cultures. To keep wildlife and nature in balance with tourism, organizations like WWF are necessary. Their aim is to preserve flora and fauna but also to reach the attention of the world population about the disappearance of species and environment. Another group of stakeholders are the volunteers. The main reason for them is to travel, but they should do their work in a reliable way in order to support the local community and the environment and not to harm them. At last police and government are involved in tourism. They have to make sure that travelers are safe, but also that locals are protected. In addition different laws of tourism have to be adopted.
To summarize, the tourism industry is neither a blessing nor a curse for the world. As it was mentioned above there are lots of positive impacts generated by the tourism industry but there exist also many negative impacts.
However, tourism can be a blessing in the future but to reach that aim different aspects have to be taken into consideration and also changes are needed. For instance, a good management of National Parks or UNESCO heritage sites is necessary to lead the tourism industry into a support for those areas. The amount of visitors should be handled in a sustainable way. Keeping that in mind raises the possibility for a very good protection of nature and heritage sites.
Furthermore especially in wildlife tourism the tour operators have to transfer the differences between canned hunting and regular hunting, the importance of protecting flora and fauna and the use of animals in order to create tourist attractions to their customers. Tourism can also be a blessing for tribes and slums but only when the tourists do inform themselves about authenticity before their holiday. Then a support of tribes and the inhabitants of slums is possible and money would not just go to the tour operators. In case of sexual exploitation it can be mentioned that also good given information to tourists and a careful observation through tour operators, hotels and the police can help to reduce the problem which automatically helps the local community in poor countries.
Some improvements are necessary to make volunteer tourism a real blessing. Therefore volunteers have to look carefully for the right organization and should read reviews in order to support and help at the right places. Another aim is that the money volunteers are willing to pay for a project will go mainly into the project and not into the organizations.
In addition it is necessary that energy consumption has to be reduced in the whole world (Roland Conrady, 2010) so that tourism will not harm the earth and its environment enormously. There is a need for a more sustainable mobility which means that public transports should be preferred by tourists instead of taking their own car. This is helpful in order to reduce the oil and fuel consumption (Roland Conrady, 2010). Referring to Conrady and Buck (2010) 'sustainability is not only A way, but it is THE ONLY way'. Our earth has to be protected and we should also travel in a sustainable way in order to make tourism more a blessing than a course for the earth.
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- Bachelor Ariane Zinneker (Autor), 2015, Impacts of tourism. To what extent is tourism a blessing or a curse?, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/381409