What is Tourism?
As defined by the World Tourism Negotiation, tourism is “a social, cultural, and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or professional purposes.”
Tourism has been the driving force for many developing countries, allowing them economic freedom and the ability to experience diversification and growth. For developed nations, tourism has created the opportunity to enhance infrastructure and experience benefits in various industries, from hospitality to agriculture.
Ecotourism is defined as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education” by The International Ecotourism Society.
Being involved in ecotourism incorporates sustainable practices with travel. Principles include minimizing the physical, social, psychological, and behavioural impact on destinations, providing a financial benefit to communities, and building awareness and respect.
Voluntourism is an amalgamation of volunteering and tourism. By definition, voluntourism is a form of tourism where travellers participate in charity or volunteer work to benefit the local communities.
Voluntourism has gained a bad reputation in recent years due to the exploitation of resources and poor treatment of children and animals. For example, orphanage tourism trips can be extremely harmful to a child’s development and emotional well-being due to building and breaking bonds in a short amount of time.
If voluntourism has interested you, it’s crucial you heavily research any tour companies or organizations offering trips to ensure the journey you want to go on is beneficial to the destination and its locals.
Why is Tourism Important?
Tourism is vital for the success of economies across the world. The hospitality industry is heavily intertwined with tourism and plays a key role in various countries’ economic growth.
Beyond hospitality, many different industries rely on tourism for upturns in revenue. Millions of people travel every year for business, leisure, and even medical reasons – so it’s no surprise that tourism carries such a heavy weight.
Tourism generates a large number of jobs for a variety of industries. Direct service providers, like tour companies and restaurants, benefit significantly from an influx of travellers during the right seasons.
Travellers also purchase items that come from indirect service providers, such as suppliers and distributors. Overall, tourists have a significant impact on the workforce for popular destinations.
An influx of travellers means a temporary increase in population. More people means destinations have to have the infrastructure necessary to support them.
Transportation services, like buses and trains, are required to have an easily-traversed destination – a must for many travellers. Beyond transportation, things like restaurants, accommodation, medical facilities, and other infrastructure become crucial to maintain a traveller’s haven.
When people travel, they spend money. Having a significant number of tourists visit a destination means a massive influx of foreign funds will inject the local economy. This boost can help fund infrastructure, which can draw in more visitors – thus beginning a healthy economic cycle, especially for developing countries.
Impacts of Tourism
Generating and maintaining a popular destination for travellers has its benefits and drawbacks – at a cost. Although they may vary over time with adequate planning, the benefits of creating a tourism hotspot can be maximized.
An influx of travellers impacts the local economy as well as the national economy.
Some economic benefits include:
- Job generation
- Stimulates domestic industries
- Injects capital into the local economy
- Improves infrastructure
- Increases tax revenues
- Higher demand may drive the cost of living up
- Taxes may increase due to strain on municipal services, like police and medical
Tourism affects the local society in a multitude of ways.
Some social benefits include:
- Communal diversification
- Public spaces will be developed to handle more people
- Recreational and cultural infrastructure will improve
- Local amenities may be unable to meet demand
- Increased traffic can cause overcrowding and congestion
- Authenticity may begin to dwindle
Travellers from different countries can impact the local culture in both positive and negative ways.
Some cultural benefits include:
- Enhanced cultural awareness
- Increased protection for historic sites
- Sharing of cultural knowledge
- Local culture can become diluted
- Historical sites can become damaged
- Cultural traditions may be lost
Overall, tourism has a significant impact on many lives across the globe. At Immersa Travel, we are dedicated to protecting and preserving local cultures. When you travel with us, you’re travelling ethically.