Tourism is great. It brings a lot of benefits – economically and socially. Especially in developing countries it can have a major impact and be one of the main sources of income.
Think of remote islands like the British Virgin Islands for example. Almost half of their national income is generated by tourism. But tourism has to be sustainable in order to be good. To achieve that it has to be carefully managed.
- Job creation
- New business opportunities
- Airport and hotel taxes
- Improved infrastructure
- Preservation of cultural traditions
- Global awareness
- Conservation of wildlife and natural resources
- Jobs often only seasonal and poorly paid
- Infrastructure costs
- Rising prices of goods and services
- Money often goes to non-local big companies
- Damage of natural environment
- Visitor behaviour or mass tourisms can be damaging
New jobs – really that good?
Creating new jobs for locals is one of the upsides of tourism. At the same time, most of these jobs are poorly paid and often just seasonal. Of course it also opens possibilities for new small businesses. But truth is, that a lot of the money goes to big non-local companies.
Infrastructure vs environment
In order to attract tourists many countries, especially developing countries have to improve their infrastructure. Which obviously is a very good thing for the locals. But the government has to bear the costs, which ultimately leads back to the taxes the locals have to pay. Another point is, that infrastructure can also damage the natural environment and endanger the wildlife.
Cultural traditions – for what price?
It’s great that locals are able to sell their products for better prices, since the tourists are often wealthier than them. It also helps to preserve cultural traditions, since tourists like to see traditional dances, eat traditional food and buy local souvenirs. Unfortunately the increased prices for goods and services are oftentimes not payable by locals themselves. Which leads to a very expensive cost of living for them.
At the same time tourism creates these problems, it also raises awareness for them. Living in the age of social media, tourists are quick posting about rural poverty and fellow travellers littering at the beach.
The pros and cons of tourism are quite balanced. Countries just need to focus on keeping the tourism as sustainable as possible. This way all sides can benefit from it and enjoy the holidays.