Tourism – Curse or Blessing Argumentative Essay

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Tourism Resource Development

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Tourism – A Curse or a Blessing?

Tourism – Blessing or Curse?
Tourism is one of the most influential and powerful industrial service sectors in the global economy. With a current contribution of 6-7% of the overall number of jobs worldwide and an annual receipt of around 1,030 billion US Dollars in 2012 (UNWTO, 2012), tourism proves itself as a strong and solid industry. Furthermore, tourism ranks fourth as an export category behind fuel, chemicals and food indicating the power of a service-based industry in the global market (UNWTO, 2012). Nevertheless, tourism is also dealing with its negative impacts on different destinations such as the great dependency of communities on tourism (Page & Connell, 2009) and the great environmental impacts often embodied by pollution and environmental damage (Page & Connell, 2009).

The following paper examines the positive as well as negative aspects of the tourism industry in relation to the Triple Bottom Line. Hence, social-cultural, economical and environmental impacts will be appraised and evaluated in order to answer the question if tourism can be considered to be a curse or a blessing.

Triple Bottom Line
The Triple Bottom Line is a concept of sustainability altercating with three different dimensions, namely People, Planet and Profit. This concept, often represented as a triangle (see appendix, Figure 1.1), outlines a managerial approach focusing on the equal development of social-cultural, economical and environmental resources (Caber, 2012). The socio-cultural (people) component deals with appropriate working conditions for employees of the tourism sector, the involvement of community and stakeholders, a conservation of cultural identity and thereby the overall improvement of life (Caber, 2012).

The economical (profit) component includes the interest for industrial growth, favourable businesses and job possibilities (Caber, 2012). The latter (planet) component outlines the importance of nature conversation and protection, damage limitation through effective ‘green’ management and the idea of increasing knowledge and awareness for such issues among the humanity (Caber, 2012).

In 1997, Elkington described and summarized the Triple Bottom Line as a symbol for “economic prosperity; environmental quality and […] social justice“.

People as a Concept of Sustainable Tourism
Due to the fact that tourism is a service-based industry, the concept of the social-cultural component is of great importance. As stated above, the concept altercates with the issue of social justice. But does tourism ensures social justice among the involved individuals?

Often tourism has a large influence on the local communities at a specific tourism destination. It often stimulates physical problems such as alcohol/drug abuse, basic crimes and prostitution whereas spiritual degeneration often highlights the psychological damage tourism has on its socio-cultural environment. The movie “Framing the Other” (Kock & Timmers, 2011) outlines in an impressive documentary, how tourism has the power of destroying traditional communities. The movie deals with a Dutch tourist visiting the Mursi tribe, taking pictures and paying the people for every shot she made. It is pointed out that tourism developed to the main source of income for this traditional community.

The problem occurring is the loss of the tribes identity and its independent economical power. Since the tribe generates money through tourism, agriculture and traditional handicrafts are not adhered anymore and the community becomes dependent on the tourists (Kock & Timmers, 2011). In addition, the opulence of income gives the Mursi people the possibility to buy luxury goods such as alcohol which many of them cannot handle appropriate and in most cases leads to addiction (Kock & Timmers, 2011). Hence, the loss of the identity as a traditional tribe is caused by tourism. Another negative example how tourism is influencing the live of host communities is related to physical problems such as the increasing numbers of child sex tourism destinations.

Especially in developing countries, the problem of child sex tourism occurs (Verheijen, 2012). With a tourism growth rate of 8% in South-East Asia (UNWTO, 2012), tourism seems to proves itself as a stable and profitable economic sector in these regions. Hence, it is evaluated as a profitable possibility to generate income rapidly. Mainly girls are forced to ‘work’ in prostitution by relatives, due to the poor economic situation in their home countries (Verheijen, 2012) and the hope to make a ‘fast buck’. Thereby, it is possible to state that tourism stimulates child sex tourism in particular regions.

Nevertheless, tourism also has the power/influence to fight against the abovementioned developments. It can be outline that tourism is a product which runs through several stages of consumption and thereby, creates many contact points of professionals and consumers which could be used in order to educate and raise awareness about sustainable travelling (see appendix, Figure 2: Contact Points of Consumers with Professionals) (Verheijen, 2012). Especially in the case of child sex tourism, Verheijen (2012) states that tourist have the ability to report suspicious behaviour because they are at the face of happenings.

There are many possibilities to report back to such as different travel organisations and the ECPAT (“End Child Prostitution, child pornography And the Trafficking of children for sexual purposes”, (Verheijen, 2012)). In addition to that, tourism turns out to be a very safe and stable employer since it is not as dependent on world crisis such as other industries. Tourism provides more than 6-7% of the overall number of jobs worldwide (UNWTO, 2012) and empowers workers who are battling with finding occupation in other industries. Furthermore, it is a relatively flexible industry especially appealing for newcomers who just entered the market or mothers having a household and children (UNWTO, 2008). Profit as a Concept of Sustainable Tourism

When it comes to the economical component of tourism, it is to be mentioned that this industry contributes 5% to the world’s gross domestic product (UNWTO, 2012) and thereby demonstrate its power in the world economy.

Nevertheless, tourism is an industry highly dependent on seasonality which means that during low season, many touristic suppliers have problems with maintaining their businesses (Page & Connell, 2009). In addition to that, the global scope of tourism aggravates businesses for local and small suppliers, since foreign investors often gain more money from tourism at the destination than the local entrepreneurs. This process is called leakage and is threatening local businesses (Page & Connell, 2009).

A process which is the basis of leakage and hence closely related, is the multiplier effect. This effect describes the cash flow by tourism spending at the destination which influences different local industries and can result in economical benefits all over the area (Page & Connell, 2009). Furthermore, tourism can benefit small and weaker areas since it often comes along with infrastructure, provides the opportunity to generate income and produces employment (Page & Connell, 2009). Planet as a Concept of Sustainable Tourism

Tourism is an industry which is entirely dependent on the environment. But even though the environment outlines one of the main resources for the tourism industry, it simultaneously is suffering greatly from its influences. Since tourism means transportation, and intercontinental flight become progressively affordable for the majority of tourists, the greenhouse gas emissions from aviation increased by 87% between 1990 and 2006 (Brasser & Zumbrink, 2013). In addition, it mostly relies on exhaustible energy and flora and fauna are threatened due to massive tourism expansions in relatively small areas. During the last year, scientists estimated that “75% of the Caribbean’s coral reefs were in danger, along with 95% of those in south-east Asia”.

In further research it turned out that by 2050 mostly every coral reef of the world will be in danger (Harvey, 2012) if the touristic influences stay the same. This would not only mean that the coastal areas would suffer from a great loss of biodiversity but also from a great loss of its appeal towards tourism which could turn into economical weakness. In contrast to that, tourism can also help to protect and conserve certain endangered species with the income it can generate. Especially in wildlife tourism, the industry supports different wildlife sites with income and funding possibilities (Higginbottom, 2004). As another example, it is possible to outline the city of Bruges. Being a member of the UNESCO World Heritage List, the government became interested in the city due to economical potential and simultaneously funded the city by 50% for conservation and maintenance costs (Decroos, 2012). Due to this, Bruges is considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium and attracts many tourists. Conclusion

Taking all aspects in to consideration, it is a real challenge to define tourism either a curse or a blessing. On the one hand, tourism is a real curse for host communities which are dependent on this industry due to economical weaknesses. Tourism is then recognised as a possibility of generating ‘easy money’ and creates ‘markets’ such as child sex tourism. In addition, many people still consider tourism to be of low impact and as a recreational and entertaining industry such as the travellers visiting the Mursi tribe and thereby destroy traditional communities.

On the other hand, tourism can be a great blessing for smaller and weaker regions since it provides many economical benefits such as infrastructure and the multiplier effect. Furthermore, the tourism industry represents one of the most important industries worldwide, ensuring many people stable income and good occupation. Finally, the author’s position is that tourism as it is at this very moment has the chance to become a global blessing. The increasing interest of consumers in sustainability and the growing demand for effective and ‘green’ management will contribute positively to tourism and will soon ensure, of course with a lot of effort by everyone involved, a healthy and simultaneously profitable industry.

Brasser, A. & Zumbrink, F. (2013). Tourism & Nature Conservation [Power Point]. Leeuwarden, Netherlands: Stenden Hogeschool: Tourism Resource Development.

Caber, M. (2012). Sustainability and Local Communities [Power Point].
Leeuwarden, Netherlands: Stenden Hogeschool: Tourism Resource Development.

Decroos, C. (2012). Tourism & UNESCO in Bruges [Power Point]. Bruges, Belgium. In cooperation with Stenden Hogeschool: Tourism Resource Development

Elkington, J. (1997). Cannibals with forks. Oxford: Capstone Publishing Ldt

Harvey, F. (2012). Caribbean coral reefs face collapse. Retrieved on the 11th of January, 2013 from

Higgibottom, K. (2004). Wildlife Tourism – Impacts, Management and Planning. Retrieved on the 3rd of January, 2013 from Kock, I. (Producer) & Timmers, W. (Director). (2011). Framing the Other – When Strangers meet in Name of Tourism. [I CAMERA YOU].

Page, S.J. & Connell, J. (2009). Tourism: A Modern Synthesis. Hampshire: South – Western CENGAGE Learning

Tourism Queensland. (2009). Factsheet 1.1, Sustainability, Triple Bottom Line and ‘Green Wash’. Retrieved on the 12th of January, 2013 from

UNWTO. (2008). Sources and Methods: Labour Statistics. Retrieved on the 11th on January, 2013 from

UNWTO. (2012). Toruism Highlights – 2012 Edition. Retrieved on the 8th of January, 2013 from

Verheijen, C. (2012). Stop Sexual Exploitation of Children [Power Point]. Leeuwarden, Netherlands: Stenden Hogeschool Leeuwarden: Tourism Resource Development.


Figure 1: The Triple Bottom Line (Tourism Queensland, 2009)

Figure 2: Contact Points of Consumers with Professionals

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