Socio-Cultural Impact of Tourism: Positive and Negative Effects of Tourism

Positive Nature of Impact:

There are many examples of the way in which tourism has benefited a particular place, buildings or cultural activity. In Britain many great buildings of the past would have been lost had it not been possible to convert them into living museums for the tourists.

Whole inner cities and dockland areas have been restored and developed to make them attractive as tourist cities. Even a city like London would be a poorer place without the tourist; 40 per cent of West End Theatre tickets are bought by tourists.

In rural areas and small seaside resorts, many of the smaller shops could not be economically viable without the summer tourists. This is applicable to Taj in India.

The rapid growth of tourism in the twentieth century has produced problems as well as opportunities in a vast scale for both developed and developing countries.

The governments of these countries have realised that unplanned tourist development can easily aggravate these problems to a point where tourists will no longer wish to visit the destination.

In other words, without proper planning tourists may destroy what they have come to see. This problem is compounded, as long-haul travel to previously unaffected destination increases.

Now, such remote areas of the globe as the Antarctic continent are appearing on the tourist trial a 100 room hotel was recently opened in Antarctica by the Chilean armed forces to cater to tourists who are looking for diversion such as snow-mobile riding and above 10,000 tourists are now visiting the continent each year.

One unexpected result of this influx has been that among the huge colonies of penguins inhabiting the area, a number are falling prey to chicken disease, thought to be the result of food carelessly discarded by tourists paying visits to the colonies.

Geologically sensitive region such as the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica are now controlling tourism development and introducing the concept of sustainable tourism to ensure that the environment are not destroyed by mass tourism.

Negative Nature of Impact:

Tourism is a curious modern disease. The people of Corfu were blessed with a magnificent island of staggering beauty, probably one of the most beautiful islands in the whole of the Mediterranean.

What they have done with it is vandalism beyond belief. Tourism damages not only the landscape but also the indigenous way of life, culture and sets of values.

It is not without reason that local people hate tourists. In the 1960s, hostility towards tourists in Europe was seen in “Yankee goes home” posters. The European press termed the foreign tourists as New Barbarians or New Invaders. Herman Kahn described the rapidly growing tourism as next only to atomic power in its potential for environmental destruction.

More than 300 mountaineering expeditions since 1949 have caused widespread deforestation, pasture destruction and serious accumulation of litter on the slopes of Mt. Everest and other peaks in the Himalayas.

The Dal Lake in Srinagar is now half of what it was fifty years ago and if current pollution continues, it may turn into a pond in the next fifty years. Tourism damages the culture and peace of the people of the host country.

In some developing nations, premature exposure to western ideas and technologies has created a variety of social problems. The introduction of tourism to a new region inevitably altered People’s daily lives.

In some cases, too, rapid tourism development contributed to high crime rates and introduced gambling, drinking and prostitution, materialism and greed. Unpleasant experiences with nude travellers have brought about open resentment towards tourists.

Tourism is often seen as an intruder by the farmer and the forester in particular who sole users of the land have been before.

The problem is much wider than that. Tourist traffic in route and where it concentrates in particular locations affects the rural environment, cars and buses create congestion on the roads as well as noise and other forms of pollution.

Aircraft noise disturbs the residents and causes damage to wild life. Tourists damage crops and flora and leave litter behind. Without tourism the rural environment would have a better chance of being preserved.

It is alleged that tourism generates crime. Many researchers have perceived a positive correlation between tourism and crime.

Through the generation of friction between the host population and tourists many criminal activities have generated. Tourism creates situations where gains from crime may be high and the likelihood of detection small.

Other evil effects of tourism should not be lost sight of. For example, tourism in Ladakh has seriously affected the agriculturists, in Kerala, it has affected the rights of fisherman and in Goa it has replaced traditional occupations.

In most modern tourist projects there has always been a conflict of land use and environmental damage through hotel construction and waste disposal.

In certain cases the curio trade has encouraged the vandalisation of our architectural heritage and art objects. Even trade in banned items like Rhino horns and tiger claws and ivory have encouraged the continuation of poaching.

There is also the practice of illegal trade in hard currency. Such activities turn a section of the local population into pimps, touts and black marketers. Sometimes tourists may provide the market for such activities.