The Advantages and Disadvantages of the Socio-Cultural Impacts of Tourism
“Tourism in India has the potential to promotemore inclusive growth. It could be used as a powerful anti-dote to tackle poverty.”—Chiranjeevi
The above statement indicates the powerful potential that tourism has in poverty reduction in a country. It has the ability to only create jobs for local residents, but also encourages the development of necessary skills required to encourage employability in the tourism and other sectors. However, it has been acknowledged that tourism can disrupt both the lives of the local residents and the environment in which they are located. Furthermore, tourism can allow a country to give a staged presentation of their country rather than its realities. Therefore, it can be argued that although it can lead to the overcrowding of an area, it causes the disruption of the environment, and stages authenticity, there are several social cultural benefits that can be had from tourism. Some of these include promoting the quick development of an area, preserving the cultural heritage of a nation while providing employment to the local residents.
One important social cultural impact is that it enables the quick development of a region. For example, the Tourism Promotion Services (a subsidiary of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development) has enabled the development of East African countries, such as Mozambique, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. The investment of Tourism Promotion Services (TPS) has led to the creation of “safari lodges, a luxury tented camp in a national park, and a hotel in Zanzibar’s historic Stone Town” (Ashley, C. et al 2007, 26). On the other hand, tourist developments such as these can lead to displacement of local residents. For instance, it was discovered that the “resident-to-visitor ratio” increased from “1:10 to 1:150 in just six years” to Shark Bay, Western Australia (Pedersen, A. 2002, 33).
Furthermore, tourism can help to preserve the cultural heritage of a particular region in a country. For example, the Siwans in Egypt were given the opportunity to construct an eco-lodge, called a “kershef, a mixture of rock salt and mud” using “traditional techniques” (Ashley, C. et al 2007, 30). This lodge played an important role in the development of eco-tourism in the area. However, it should be noted that in the practice of heritage tourism, it is easy for operators, hoteliers, and other key stakeholders to engage in staged authenticity. For instance, Dean McCannell explains that in “tourist settings,” there is a “series of special spaces designed to accommodate tourists” and to “support their beliefs in the authenticity of their experiences” (McCannell, D. 1973, 589). In other words, the key stakeholders in tourism in attempting to allow tourists to have an authentic experience will attempt to manipulate “special spaces” to give the appearance of authenticity (McCannell, D. 1973, 589).
It is a known fact that tourism gives local residents the opportunity to benefit from “direct employment” (Ashley, C. et al 2007, 26). Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) that owns Serena Hotels “employs about 3,000 staff in East Africa” (Ashley, C. et al 2007, 26). Furthermore, it provides “comprehensive training and development for staff at all levels” (Ashley, C. et al 2007, 26). However, tourism has been known to cause negative impacts on the environment. For example, visitors can disturb the growth of certain species of plants with their constant “trampling,” such as “slow growth rates,” plants with “flexible stems and leaves” and “small thick leaves that fold under pressure” (Ashley, C. et al 2007, p. 30).
In conclusion, tourism can have some positive social impacts that include the following: promoting the quick development of a region, promoting the cultural preservation of a nation, and providing employment for local residents. On the other hand, there are some negative cultural social impacts that can be linked to tourism. These include the following: disrupting the environment, staging authenticity, and overcrowding an area.
Ashley, C., De Brine, P., Lehr, A., and Wilde, H., 2007. The Role of the Tourism Sector. Boston, MA: Harvard University.
McCannell, D., 1973. Staged Authenticity: Arrangements of Social Space in Tourist Settings. American Journal of Sociology, 79(3), pp.589–603.
Pedersen, A., 2002. Managing Tourism at World Heritage Sites: A Practical Manual for World Heritage Site Managers. Paris: UNESCO World Heritage Centre.