Authenticity in tourism
AN ARTICLE ANALYSIS
MAIN OBJECTIVE AND PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
According to forecasts by the World Tourism Organization (WTO), “international tourist arrivals will climb from the present 625 million a year to 1.6 billion in 2020,” reports The UNESCO Courier. These tourists are expected to spend over two trillion U.S. dollars, “making tourism the world’s leading industry.” So far, Europe has been the most popular destination. France is the most visited country, with 70 million visitors in 1998. However, by the year 2020, China is expected to take first place. International travel, though, remains the prerogative of a privileged few. In 1996, only 3.5 percent of the world’s population traveled abroad. The WTO forecasts that this figure will reach 7 percent by 2020. This is the reason why it is important to understand what tourism really is and how it actually affect the present human society.
The study of Ning Wang From the Zhongshan University entitled Rethinking Authenticity In Tourism Experience actually suggests a new approach in understanding tourism authenticity in the human society today. Ideally, tourism is a win-win arrangement. The consumer escapes his normal routine and is pampered, entertained, or educated. But what is in it for the providers? International tourism is a ready generator of foreign currency. Most countries need foreign currency to pay for goods and services that they must import.
In fact, a WTO report stated: “International tourism is the world’s largest export earner and an important factor in the balance of payments of many countries. Foreign currency receipts from international tourism reached US$423 billion in 1996, outstripping exports of petroleum products, motor vehicles, telecommunications equipment, textiles or any other product or service.” The same report stated: “Tourism is the world’s largest growth industry,” and it represented “up to 10 per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product.” Little wonder that most countries, now including even some from the former Soviet Union, are in—or are scurrying to enter—the international tourist industry.Government revenue accrued from tourism is being used to improve infrastructure, provide higher standards of education, and meet other pressing national needs. Virtually all governments are concerned that their citizens have employment. The jobs generated by tourism help meet this need.
To demonstrate the effect that tourism can have on a country’s economy, consider the example of the Bahamas, a tiny nation of islands stretching across the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico between Florida, in the United States, and the island of Cuba. The Bahamas has no large-scale commercial agriculture and almost no industrial raw materials. But these islands do have warm weather, pristine tropical beaches, a small population of about a quarter of a million friendly people, and proximity to the United States—assets that have been combined to produce a thriving tourist industry. But what does it take to provide tourists a pleasurable and safe vacation?
According to the study of Zhongshan, there had been different theories formulated to support the growing need of human relaxation through giving multi-edged system in giving the people the relaxation that they need and furthermore increase their knowledge of the places that they are visiting every now and then. The said study actually focused on the authenticity of tourism through the process of increasing the emotional as well as the mental experience of each visitor within the areas that are developed for the said business industry. Furthermore, the author of the said research implies the strong idea on furthering tourism in implying development to the people appreciating tourism matters as well. To her, being productive through tourism would nourish the capabilities of the human society in becoming a part of the major global developments that are happening today.
What Travelers Usually Want
When international tourism began, the experience of visiting a foreign country was rare enough to satisfy many travelers—this despite the hardships of travel at the time. Today, however, mass communication allows many to sample far-off destinations on television without leaving the comfort of their home. Resorts are thus now challenged to make an actual visit an outstanding experience while providing the comforts of home or better. Additionally, since many tourists travel frequently, destinations often compete globally. This has given rise to spectacular attractions and resorts. Consider, for example, one very large luxury hotel in the Bahamas. “The property has been designed to blow you away,” says Beverly Saunders, director of organization development at the hotel. “But we aim to go further. We want your interaction with our hosts to blow you away also.” How do such resorts cater to the needs of their guests?
The “tourism industry can bring many benefits to our developing society,” observes Pradhan, quoted earlier. However, he notes that without proper measures, “incurable social problems can also crop up.” He adds: “[We] need to be properly prepared with adequate awareness about the various impacts of modern tourism.” To what problems was he referring?
“Nations that cater to large numbers of tourists almost always experience serious, albeit unintended, dilution of their traditional ways of life. In some places local culture has been obliterated.” This is how Cordell Thompson, a high-ranking Bahamas Ministry of Tourism official describes one common side effect. Thompson speaks with pride about all the beneficial effects tourism has had on his country. Yet, he admits that living in a country where vacationers constantly outnumber—or represent a large portion of—the population has produced many other unforeseen effects. For example, some who work with tourists find that eventually they begin to imagine, erroneously, that the visitor is on vacation constantly. The resident can attempt to imitate this imagined life-style. Others are not affected in such a way. But by spending a great deal of their leisure time in the visitors’ playgrounds, they eventually shed their traditional life-style. Sometimes the facilities built for tourists become so widely adopted by the populace that the community centers of the indigenous culture eventually wither and, in some places, die.
Many popular international tourist destinations are torn between opposing forces. They welcome the beneficial income derived from streams of visitors. Yet, they stagger under the weight of social problems spawned by industries created to satisfy tourists looking to indulge illicit cravings.
Because some of the greatest benefits of modern tourism produce effects that threaten its very continuance, an expression that is being heard with increasing frequency is “sustainable tourism.” It demonstrates that some are coming to the realization that the short-term benefits of some profitable tourism practices threaten to ‘kill the goose that lays the golden egg.’ Some difficult issues will have to be addressed if the industry is to be sustained indefinitely. The effect of tourism on the environment, the impact on indigenous cultures, the compatibility of the goals of profit-oriented resorts and mega-resorts with the national objectives of the host countries—these are some of the often-competing concerns that will have to be balanced in the days ahead. In recent months, concerns about safety and security have taken a serious toll on the travel industry, and these must eventually be addressed. How they will affect the growth of modern tourism in the long run remains to be seen.
FURTHER Implications of the Study in the Industry
Wang’s study actually portrays the fact that human perception in relaxation is the particular thought that feeds the development of tourism industries around the world. Although the major aim of people in visiting other places is to relax, the authenticity of tourism introduces a more productive way of visiting the different areas of the world. Likely, the study suggests that getting knowledge through a museum-like process of visiting shall increase the capability of tourism to not only offer relaxation and luxury to the people but also knowledgeable informations with regards the different areas of the world for the sake of further advancements of the said communities.
IT is also through this particular process that the different areas of the world attract major investors to save financial capitalization for the progress of the different industries of the said areas. Certainly, as cited above, it could be observed that tourism indeed has a strong capability of facing future challenges of social development. Most likely, the said future is rather focused upon the possibility of increasing the capability of the said industry in catering to more than just relaxing services to the people. The said inclusion also focuses on the knowledge development of the people with regards the places that they are visiting thus giving them better chances in contributing to the development of such areas in the world today.
Certainly, the different developments are primarily focused on the increasing of the major roles that tourism likely plays in the development of human society. It is through this particular factor that that experts of the matter include their researches toward reaching a certain factor of advancement in the field of tourism industries in the human scene today.
Ning Wang. Rethinking Authenticity in Tourism Experience. Zhongshan University, China.