All over the worlds, people, travel for either business or pleasure. For an individual to be a tourist, on has to travel away from home and spend a period of not less than 24 hours in the destination. In general, tourism has both benefits and impacts that may be affecting both the environment and the general population of the destination areas.
Sustainable tourism is a concept of tourism that is supposed to meet the needs of the people travelling to a destination and the host people in the destination areas while protecting and enhancing the opportunities for the future. The concept of ecotourism is more entrenched towards the conservation and preservation of the environment while giving back to the community. Urry (1995) argues that mass tourism, on the other hand, is market oriented, and the impacts on the environment and the general populations are not taken keenly even though they may be adverse as is the case in most cases. Finding the correct balance between the potential areas of sustainability and the conservation of the environment has proven to be difficult since the inception of the noble idea of ecotourism. There are several arguments for and against sustainability. To be able to bear the tourism industry, there are numerous features that have to be considered. Some people arguing for mass tourism argue that the environment is not important than the people .Proponents of the sustainable tourism argue that it is possible to ensure that tourism can be sustainable. The difficulty is however on the scale of the sustainability. When arguing for the ecotourism form of tourism, it is the impact on the environment and the local community that must be considered.
Over duration of time, the impacts of the several eco tourists who have visited the pristine environment will be able to be visible. If it is a national park, the animals will have been accustomed to the visitors, and this will have changes their automatic ‘natural environments’. This means that although they value the environment, the tourists also live some ecological footprints in their travels. According to Korten (1987), the people who are opposed to this form of tourism argue that is possible for the general population of Jamaica to continue conserving the environment, and keeping their historic buildings conserved when weighed with the development of new facilities that can help the general populations in Jamaica(146)? What is the point of keeping animals in the environment whereas the people are suffering from lack of food security? Do the needs of the environment and especially the wildlife overpower the needs of the general populations?
While arguing against the proponents of the ecotourism concept, proponents of the mass tourism note that it is up to the government and the local authorities to find a balance between the sustainability of the people of Jamaica and the environment. To them, it is economically viable to ensure that the people get the adequate amounts of income that can be achieved through the use of mass tourism and the development that is necessary for the people. Why is it that the environment should be conserved when the environment can be used to benefit the people? If it is the conservation of the environment that is highly regarded, to what generation is the environment been conserved for? Do they argue that sustainability is for future generations but should the present generation suffer for the benefit of the future generation? The concept of sustainability in tourism is also weak in that there are no time limits that have been set for the future generation to utilize the present available resources. It is thus up to the person to weigh the benefits of mass tourism and the sustainable tourism in terms of ecotourism.
In Jamaica, there are many tourists who travel for different reasons. These tourists may be travelling for business tourism, leisure tourism, health and wellness tourism, religious tourism, ecotourism and cultural and heritage tourism. It has been evident over the recent years that Jamaica has been experiencing lots of sports tourism. This is because athletics as a sport is a major tourist attraction in Jamaica.
Positive economic effects of mass tourism and ecotourism
It is evident that the forms of tourism such as mass tourism and ecotourism have had major impacts in Jamaica. ecotourism is an of tourism that integrates the concepts of sustainability through ensuring that the environment is well cater for, and the local hosts also have some form of income. Mass tourism, on the other hand, has lots of impacts that may be market oriented and in utmost cases it is the atmosphere that gets the major negative impact both positively and negatively.
When analyzing the impacts of both ecotourism and mass tourism in Jamaica, it is best to analyze the environmental and economic impacts of each of the forms of tourism. Economically, mass tourism seems to have much greater benefits to the people of Jamaica than ecotourism. Mass tourism in Jamaica provides a platform whereby the economy generally improves. When tourists travel to Jamaica in large numbers, the general employment of people in the tourism industry in Jamaica is improved. There are many people who are able to get jobs in the hotels and other hospitality establishments in Jamaica, due to the influx of large numbers of tourists in the area. These people get employment from hotel managers to the chauffeurs. The local economy of Jamaica is improved basically by the impacts of the foreign exchange from the tourists. This foreign exchange money is collected by the government in the major tourist destinations in Jamaica. Jamaica has seen an increase in the sports tourism that has created lots of foreign exchanges when tourists come for sporting purposes. When these large numbers of tourists visit local areas in Jamaica, they spend their money on the local areas. The money has a trickle-down effect whereby the local people are able to purchase services and goods from the salary that they get from working at the tourist and hospitality establishments in Jamaica.
The local authorities are also able to increase their tax revenue collections, and this goes a long way in developing the local infrastructures of Jamaica. Stadia, power lines and roads are also developed through these large amounts of money from tourists. According to Poon (1990), the development of infrastructure is also highly dependent on the type of tourists visiting Jamaica(119). When the planners of tourism in Jamaica plan for the tourist visits to attraction sites and beaches, they ensure that the infrastructure to that place is constructed properly so as to attract extra numbers of tourist. Turner (1995) notes that since these forms of infrastructure that are constructed are not only supposed to be used by the tourist, the locals can be able to use also these facilities thus improving the general infrastructure of the place. Some of the infrastructure such as malls and supermarkets that are built also ensures that there is a high chance for the increase in shopping opportunities in Jamaica.
The form of tourism that generally impacts positively in this sense is the mass tourism. In mass tourism there are many people travelling, more amounts of money can be collected. Ecotourism, on the other hand, is based on sustainable numbers, and it is only the local people who benefit. The level of development of infrastructure can be low in ecotourism as the people are more concerned in the protection of the environment than the money they get. Most of the Eco tourists are also concerned with the preservation of the pristine environments and would be able to oppose the construction of massive infrastructures in these places. There are normally large debates as to whether to construct tarmac roads in these pristine environments and most cases, the eco tourists are opposed to that issue. It is easy to find mud roads leading to these attraction sites and sometimes these roads become impassable. Mass tourism also creates lots of new business opportunities. When many tourists travel to Jamaica, they are able to interact with the people in many ways. Some of the tourists are business people, and they come with new business ideas that they can impart on the locals. These business ideas are not generally environmental friendly. Eco tourists mainly travel for the conservation of the environment.
It is difficult sometimes to conduct business with individuals who are travelling for nature purposes only. In places where there is a high prevalence of mass tourism in Jamaica, there are an improved high income levels and the living standards of the people. This is because the mass tourists are willing to pay higher for the services that they require. In places where ecotourism is more prevalent than mass tourism, the levels of living standards and income are still low as the tourists are more troubled about the maintenance of the surroundings. The money that these tourists spend is generally directed toward the environment with little going towards the people.
Negative economic effects of mass tourism and ecotourism
There are also major negative economic impacts of the mass tourism and ecotourism. Mass tourism generally leads to an increase in the prices of services and commodities in the destination areas. The large numbers of tourists in mass tourism create a huge demand in the services and the commodities. Smith & William note that most of the tourists are willing to pay a higher amount for these services, and this creates an artificial environment. The prices of the adjacent places to these tourist attractions in Jamaica have increased massively. The housing and land properties have also increased immensely. The cost of living has shot up. This does not benefit the locals living in these areas. Due to this artificial environment, there are higher chances of the increased amounts of imported cheap labor. The locals are thus not able to get the required jobs. In the ecotourism, the tourists are concerned with the locals and this in a sense benefits the local community. Some tourists got to extreme extents to ensure that it is only the local people who benefit from the funding that they provide.
Mass tourism also provides another challenge economically in that the cost of the additional infrastructure is paid for by the local people and the local authorities. The government has to ensure that the tourists have proper travelling roads, power in their hospitality establishments. This is not usually the case with eco tourists. According to Weaver (2001), another major difference between the mass tourists and the eco tourists economically is the competition that the tourist attractions offer the locals in regard to the use of land (55). Mass tourism ensures that there are lots of revenues that are collected. Ecotourism, on the other hand, is concerned with the environment and most of the Eco tourists would rather ensure that the environment is protected other than the creation of more viable economic options.
The land that is used for the conservation of the environment could be used for agricultural purposes other than conservation. Most of the locals would have enough food security. Mass tourism has also proven that the jobs of tourism can be well paying. Ecotourism ensures that the money that is collected is shared among the local communities, and this is not successful at times in Jamaica as some of the officials are corrupt and may use these collected funds for their own selfish gains. It is, however, possible that the local communities in Jamaica can be able to depend fully on the tourist activities as these activities also induce developments in other sectors of the economy.
Positive environmental effects of mass tourism and ecotourism
Environment plays a big role in tourism. For some tourists, the environment is the sole purpose that they travel to Jamaica. The main attractions of the tourists in Jamaica are the sandy beaches at the coastal areas. The level of impact in these areas is also dependent on the numbers of the tourists visiting these places. The main positive impacts on the environment may include; the general conservation of the environment. The local communities and the government know that tourism can be tapped as a source of income. It is thus befitting that they conserve these areas. It is the form of ecotourism that has major benefits towards the environment than the mass tourism. Eco tourists ensure that they do not disturb the pristine environment and through collaborations with the local communities, they have come up with plans and strategies to ensure that this is possible.
Apart from the protection of the environment, the Eco tourists have also ensured that they oblige the government and the locals to preserve the monuments and the historic sites of the country. Mass tourism, on the other hand, does not care the number of tourists who visit these places, but the amount of money that can be achieved. The aesthetic and visual appearance of the areas are also improved in these forms of tourism so as to guarantee that there are more numbers that are willing to visit these places and sites. Environmentally this creates beautiful scenery and a ‘clean’ industry is created.
Negative environmental effects of mass tourism and ecotourism
The surroundings can also be harmfully affected by these forms of tourism. It is, however, mass tourism that has major adverse effects on the environment. The major issue with mass tourism is the pollution that it causes. There are various forms of pollution that result in mass tourism. One of the major pollution caused by mass tourists is the air pollution. The large numbers of tourist in Jamaica pollute the environment through their daily travel routines. It is evident that the cars that they use for transport pollute the air through the smokes and deadly fumes emitted. Crick (1990) notes that the water in the beaches is also highly polluted by the tourist who flock the beaches in huge numbers (302). The amount of solid wastes by the large number of tourist also pollutes the environment adversely. It is, therefore, correct to comprehend that ecotourism provides a more viable option in terms of environmental pollution than mass tourism.
The environment can also be affected through the introduction of invasive exotic species. These species may be carried along with the tourists, and this is generally synonymous with tourists who travel in cruise ships or tourists who travel to Jamaica for educational and research purposes. The tourists who travel for educational purposes may bring along with them species from their native lands, and if this is not properly checked, and they may end up introducing these species to the environment and this may altogether destroy the pristine untouched environment.
According to Singh (1992), the environment may be also greatly affected by the tourist activities in that the natural landscape of Jamaica may be lost (150). The construction of infrastructure and the change of the agricultural lands to develop hospitality establishments may affect the general productivity of land in terms of agriculture. The competitions to construct hotels in beaches also present another instance whereby the landscape of the areas may be destroyed. Proponents of ecotourism like the construction of these infrastructures to affect the environment the least. Mass tourism proponents do not see the value in the protection of the environment, and they do not mind the construction of big hotels around beaches.
When these structures are constructed, it is evident that there is a big chance of the disruption of the behaviors of wildlife and their breeding cycles. Migratory birds and the fish may be adversely affected by the construction of these structures. It is thus, positive to note that the environment is carefully protected by the Eco tourists than the mass tourists. The fauna and flora are also immensely affected. A huge collection of the rocks, plants, animals or artifacts by tourists as a souvenir also affect the environment immensely. When mass tourists decide that they all want to collect souvenirs, it is only a matter of time that the environment is degraded. Some of the endangered species such as birds may be totally destroyed and in some cases these species become extinct.
It is thus difficult to pinpoint which of the two forms of tourism that can be able to maximize both the conservation of the environment and the realization of the high economic returns and benefits from the two models of tourism. There are many arguments for the benefits of mass tourism as well as the benefits of ecotourism. The impacts are positive and negative. Finding a way in which all of the tourism can be sustained has proven to be a difficult task in Jamaica. There have been many proponents of the concept of sustainable tourism in the form of ecotourism in Jamaica as well as the proponents who are for the mass tourism. Finding a balance is somewhat difficult as the correct timelines of the generations are not yet set.
Singh , Naresh
1992 sustainable development-its meaning for the Caribbean. Social and economic studies 41:145-167.
Smith,valene L. and William R. Eadington, eds.
1992 Tourism alternatives: potential and problems in the development of tourism. Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press.
1995 The cultural environment of development: commentary. In Global ecosystems: creating options through Anthropological perspectives. Pamela J. Puntenney, ed. Pp 88-95. NAPA Bulletin No.15.
1989 Representations of International Tourism in the Social sciences: Sun, Sex, Sights, and Servility. Annual Review of Antropology. 18:307-344.
1990 Flexible Specialization and Small Size: The Case of Carrebian Tourism. World Development 18: 109-123.
1987 Third Generation NGO Strategies: Key to People Centered Development. World Development. 15(Supplement): 145-155.
Clark, Mary E
1994 Integrating Human Needs Into Our Vision of Sustainability. Futures: 180-186.
1995 (1990) The Tourist Gaze, 2nd edition: Sage
Weaver, D. Bruce
2001 Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly: Ecotourism as Mass Tourism ; Contradiction or Reality?. Sage. 42-104