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Case Against Tourism

Case Against Tourism

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Published by insituhk
Tourism, far from being a benign industry,
accounts for much of the environmental, social and economic problems encountered in the world today. Read this document to find out why.
Tourism, far from being a benign industry,
accounts for much of the environmental, social and economic problems encountered in the world today. Read this document to find out why.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: insituhk on Sep 03, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/08/2011

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Sustainable Development and the Case against Tourism
Angela Tam
Contents
 Page
Introduction
2
Chapter 1: What is tourism and who are tourists?
3
Chapter 2: The environmental impact of tourism
5
Chapter 3: The social and cultural impact of tourism
12
Chapter 4: The real economic impact of tourism
16
Chapter 5: Why do we travel?
21
1
 
Introduction
Every day millions of people in the developed world dream of a holiday abroad. Theycheck out the specials pasted on the travel agents' windows, surf the internet looking fordeals and picture themselves in the idyllic settings painted on TV and in magazines.Those who can afford it regularly book themselves into top resorts or hotels and swim inthe lap of luxury once they arrive. The less well-off save up for the opportunity to beherded onto planes and coaches to see sights in exotic places. And low-cost carriers havemade overseas travel possible for more people more often than ever before.Tourism is a booming industry and governments can't develop the sector fast enough. Indeveloped and developing countries alike, tourism has created jobs for locals whileproviding entertainment for visitors, isn't it wonderful?Is it?This document is written to explain why tourism, far from being a benign industry,accounts for much of the environmental, social and economic problems encountered inthe world today. These are the components of sustainable development, a concept withits beginnings in the 1980s, when the United Nations-appointed World Commission onEnvironment and Development published
Our Common Future,
a report which hassupplied us with the definition of sustainable development most widely accepted today,which is: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising theability of future generations to meet their own needs.”The negative impact of tourism is becoming more widely known, which is whyincreasingly the tourism industry is talking about eco-tourism. Don't be fooled though.The idea that tourism can be eco-friendly will be addressed here too.I have tried to summarise the key problems in a relatively short document. Those whowish to find out more about the impact of tourism in specific areas may refer to thesources cited in the footnotes, some of which are lengthy academic studies that explainthe issue in much greater detail. 2
 
Chapter 1: What is tourism and who are tourists?
First of all, some definitions. Tourism is defined in the Concise Oxford EnglishDictionary as “the commercial organisation and operation of holidays and visits to placesof interest”. A tourist is defined in the same dictionary as “a person who travels forpleasure”. The World Tourism Organisation defines a tourist as someone who travels atleast eighty kilometres (fifty miles) from home for the purpose of recreation.Because one cannot travel for whatever purpose whatsoever unless one has the meansand time to do so, a tourist is generally someone who has the disposable income and thefree time to engage in travelling. In days of yore this put the concept of tourism beyondthe reach of the average man-on-the-street (or, going back to more agrarian days, theman-on-the-farm). Only emperors and aristocrats could afford to play tourists in ancienttimes; it would be a stately affair involving a glorious retinue of humans and animals thatwould draw admiring or resentful (depending on the state of governance at the time)crowds everywhere they went.In the 19
th
century new transport technology made travelling easier for more people.More European ladies and gentlemen could finish their education or simply “see theworld”, going on a grand tour of exotic places, taking steamships and trains. In drab andrainy Britain, it became fashionable to visit spas in Europe for health reasons. Britainwas also yielding what came to be defined as “the middle class”, a group of people whohad earned their money and leisure courtesy of the Industrial Revolution – manufacturersand traders dealing with the new factory-made goods – who could afford, and wanted totreat themselves, to a holiday somewhere out of town. The paid statutory holiday,introduced in the UK by the Bank Holiday Act of 1871
1
, extended the privilege toworkers who, while not able to afford a trip abroad, could at least take the train to a(usually seaside) resort nearby. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the operator of thefirst package tours in the world – Thomas Cook – was a Briton. Eventually the need toaccommodate these leisure travellers led to the development of hotels and the touristindustry was born when more varied and deliberate ways of taking advantage of themoney-spinning potential of such people came into being, in the form of souvenir shops,“tourist spots”, travel guides, etc.“The commercial organisation and operation of holidays” refers to this phenomenon.However, while many tourists fit the World Tourism Organisation's definition of a“tourist”, someone from the southern city of Guangzhou who cross over to Hong Kongfor a spot of shopping and sightseeing may tell you that you don't always have to travelmore than eighty kilometres to qualify as a tourist. I will define “tourist” as someonewho travels for the specific purpose of recreation or the experience of things that have anovelty value for him/her, as a form of entertainment (as against those who may do sowith the express purpose of acquiring knowledge or a better understanding of a differentculture). He/she is not an explorer or gypsy scholar, nor a person who is travellingbecause of work or family, but a consumer abroad, armed with travellers' cheques or
1http://artzia.com/Recreation/Tourism/
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