The pros and cons of an increased tourism industry

The tourism industry has exploded in recent decades and the number of travellers grows year after year. This boom in tourism has given rise to millions of new jobs and increased economic prosperity in countries across the world. Many countries and communities regard it as a regional economic development strategy. However, tourism brings with its costs and benefits as well. Economic social-cultural and environmental impacts are inevitably element of the development of tourism (Cooper et al.1998). The individual impacts, and the net effect of impacts grouped together, influencing local community and its members in many aspects. It will be discussed further as below.

Environment Impacts

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The environment of a destination is, often, the key reason for initial visitor interest in this area. However, as soon as tourism activity take place, both of natural environment and built environment are inescapability changed or modified either to facilitate tourism or during the tourism process (Cook et al, 1999, Cooper et al.1998).

Along with the development of tourism, particularly, the expansion of nature-based tourism, land, air, water, vegetation and wildlife become the major elements of the natural environment affected by tourism (Cook et al, 1999, Williams, 1994). Many tourism activities could result in this consequence, such as land clearing, trampling and other tourism-related activities (Cooper et al.1998, Hunter and Green, 1996, Newsome et al.2002). A study by Whinam and Chilcott (1999 in Newsome et al.2002) showed that in shrub area, most of the trampled vegetation died within 42days of the trampling period (Newsome et al.2002). Rosen and Lowe(1994 in ( Newsome et al.2002) found that in Organ Pipe Cactus National Park (USA) up to 4000 snakes were killed per 22.5km of road per year ( Newsome et al.2002).

The associated loss can result in degradation in the biological condition of an area, and subsequently lead to the destruction of local ecosystem (Baud-Bovy and Lawson, 1998) Notably, unplanned and poorly planned development can result in the endangerment of flora and fauna species, slow erosion of the very sites and increased susceptibility to landslides and avalanches (Hunter and Green 1996). A well-know example is the case of Apls (Tyler 1989 in Hunter and Green 1996).

Besides, the natural resources (biological and physical, renewable or non-renewable) of a destination may become altered and depleted, owing to the construction and maintenance of tourism development (Hunter and Green 1996). For example, several Caribbean islands experienced water and power shortages that were directly due to the demand of tourist exceeding capacity, and, at the same time, evidence suggest that the average tourist used twice the amount of water of local people (Newsome et al.2002).

In the built-environment, the tourism activities influence a verity of aspects, including urban form, infrastructure, erosion ,etc. However, the overload of infrastructure is a major problem of tourism development in many urban areas (Hunter and Green 1996). Such as traffic congestion and parking problem result in local aggravation, water and energy supply shortage ,etc. (Godfrey and Clarke 2000).Besides, erosion is another major problem arise from tourist, trampling and vehicular traffic damage the built assets, specially, many major heritage sites worn down by the continual abrasion of tourist feet. Smith and Jenner (1989 in Hunter and Green 1996) point out that between 1964 and 1989, around the world buildings have suffered more from acid attack than in the preceding 2,400 years.

In addition, pollution is another major impact arise in both of natural and built environment, particularly in resorts area. In Mosisch and Arthington’s ( 1998 in Newsome et al.2002) study of the impacts of power boating on lakes and reservoirs, they reported that between 380 and 600 million litres of outboard motor fuel are discharged into waters each year. Also, the spread of garbage and litter are frequently occur in many resorts (Godfrey and Clarke 2000). In 1992,the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt has to be closed, because 100 litres of sweat generating by tourists within one day, combined with the dust and bacteria brought in by tourists, was causing unacceptable damage to the tomb (Guardian, 1992 in Hunter and Green 1996). Moreover, along with the rapid growth of tourism, sewage and water pollution become significant impacts, due to the overload of local sewage treatment and disposal infrastructure (Hunter and Green 1996).

On the other hand, there are a number of positive impact can flow from tourism. Firstly, tourism stimulate the funds for the conservation of region’s historical and natural sites (Godfrey and Clarke 2000). Such as the Great wall and many wildlife parks. Especially, in some cases, it contributes to the re-use of disused buildings, such as renovate some redundant industrial and commercial sites into visitor attractions, hotels and exhibition space (Hunter and Green 1996). Secondly, it also always provides the means and justification for a host community to develop the infrastructure and superstructure in their area, such as up-grading facilities and transport systems (Cook et al, 1999). Obviously, local resident could take these advantages to improve the quality of life.

Social-economic Impacts

The economic benefits of tourism in an area are the gross contribution to resident income and wealth gaining from the presence of travellers(Frechling, 1994). Tourism spending can generate income for both the public and private sectors, but the most significant impact lies in its output multiplier effect, and it tend to correlated with the size of the economy (Fletcher,1989).If the level of local ownership of tourism operation and diversity of economy are high, the destination’s economy is likely gain more benefits from tourism expenditure. As many studies indicate this factors (eg.Fletcher,1989).

Furthermore, tourism development helps to improve living standards for local residents, particularly, for those who directly involved in the industry, via several channel: provides a wide variety of employment, strengthens the overall job market and adds household income (Godfrey and Clarke, 2000). Meanwhile, it encourage economic independence as well, because tourism-related business and jobs require lower threshold, this particular benefit young people and other people whom with little skill or experience (Crandall, 1994,Godfrey and Clarke, 2000). Many data indicate this factor, such as Smyth (1999 in Newsome et al.2002) estimate that visitors to Glacier National Park generate $74 million in output, $41million in income, and 2531 jobs in 1990, and this account for 4% of the region’s income and 7%of the region’s jobs.

Moreover, tourist spending helps to enhance the local quality life in many ways. For instances, people can take advantage of enhancement in community infrastructure, and superstructure as well (Cook et al, 1999). As tourist spending usually help a destination improve its facilities through tourist revenues, and create new opportunities for recreation and other leisure pursuits. Just as in London, many theatres can survive only because of the income of tourists (Mill and Morrison, 1992).

On the other hand, there are also some negative side of social-economic impacts. To begin with, a frequent cost of tourism growth is that prices of housing, food, and other goods and services are often driven up. Many destinations indigent experienced this inflation, in some serious cases, local people even suffered from financial paralysis. e.g. Perdu et al (1987) and Long (1989).Furthermore, tourism-related jobs are likely tend to seasonal and low paid due to the natural of tourism industry (Godfrey and Clarke, 2000). At last, tourism also can lead to labor force displacement and changes in forms of employment, but, commonly, this may be consider as neutral impact.

Social -cultural Impacts

Tourism can, be a major contributor for the change in social, political and cultural system of a destination (Long, 1989, Williams, 1994).The major negative consequences of tourism are decline in traditions, materialism, social conflicts of host community (Hunter and Green 1996).First of all, the demand of tourism lead to the commercialisation of local cultural and tradition, they become as show rather than as part of a living (Cooper et al.1998, Crandall, 1994,Godfrey and Clarke, 2000, Reynolds, 1992). Examples can be easily found, such as Miaojia (a minority of China) bamboo dance, Balinese religious ceremonies etc. even further, one can just pay 100 get a Dai jia ‘s bride experience their special wedding ritual. Ceremonies and rituals, which initially had great importance for host community, now, become meaningless and are used primarily to attract tourists, this may lead to both host and visitors lose respect for the local beliefs (Cook et al, 1999).

Beside, when tourism developed, crimes also can become a serious problem (Cook et al, 1999, Cooper et al.1998). Another problem is that tourism will bring or help undesirable activities, such as gambling, drug use, and prostitution (Cook et al, 1999, Crandall, 1994, Hunter and Green 1996). Many study reported direct relationship between crimes, drug abuse and tourism (e.g.Cook et al, 1999, Long, 1989) This increase in social problem becomes a social and economic burden on host communities, owing to the increasing fear and necessitate funding of a large police force (Cook et al, 1999).

On the positive side, tourist can play a role in enhancing a sense of pride in local heritage, uplifting local understanding and interest in history and cultural, helping to strengthen civil pride and a sense of community (Cook et al, 1999). Meanwhile, it is often the tourists who afford the interest and economic means to preserve and maintain cultural heritage (Godfrey and Clarke, 2000) Also, it providing new market for crafts, which were threatened by extinction (Crandall, 1994, Godfrey and Clarke, 2000). In spite of they are always be altered and mass produced to make them more saleable.

These are also some others changes in local social-cultural could contribute to tourism, for example, foreign values, ideologies and lifestyle influence the lives and behaviour of local people (Crandall, 1994). However, these changes always combined with the globalisation of development, and may mainly due to the latter contributor. In addition, the natural, scale and duration of interactions between tourists and host community are important in determining these changes (Godfrey and Clarke, 2000,Hunter and Green 1996).


As we discussed above, these impacts of tourism may be beneficial or detrimental. But there is no simple cause-and-effect relationship between a destination and its visitors for all places or at all times. (Godfrey and Clarke, 2000) Either the costs or the benefits vary from place to place. There are many elements act as determinants; both of the natural of supply side and demand side play an important role (Cooper et al.1998, Godfrey and Clarke, 2000). Including local morphology, ecology and environmental quality, the type of tourism activity and number of visitors involved, the difference in social attributes between host and visitors, etc. (Godfrey and Clarke, 2000). In Newsome et al (.2002) ‘s comprehensive research illustrate this in terms of the different impacts caused by off-road vehicle in a rang of environment.

To sum up, with the growth of tourism, the destination area and people always affected by the costs and benefits that tourism created. However, many of the gains are economic and often short-term in natural and, the costs, especially to the natural resource and social cultural, are tend to be long term or even permanent While the overall environment effect of tourism is may less than that of most other industries, but the most significance of its impacts lies in the fact that it often touch the most fragile, sensitive and the interesting parts of an area’s landscape (Williams, 1994). Better planning and management of tourism is the key to deal with these issues, particularly, carry capacity should be take into consider (Cooper et al.1998).

But, there is no universal solution suit every place. Each destination must understand their resource and their limitations, monitoring tourism impact, creating a positive tourism policy and management strategy, to minimize the negative impacts and maximize the benefits could gain from tourism industry. In the case of USA, the California’s Watchable Wildlife Programme, using “six steps to sustainable success ” lead to a notable hit (Carrison, 1997 in Newsome et al.2002).

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