The Downside of Tourism
Despite the importance of the tourism industry to local economies there are significant costs to being a popular holiday destination. Local cultures can suffer as the needs of the tourist are given priority. For example, local shops can be demolished to make way for larger retail developments. In addition, the negative effects on the environment are well documented. Areas suffering from scarce water, food and energy resources can see the situation deteriorate with the extra demand caused by an influx of tourists. There will often be a physical impact as well, with increases in local pollution or the effect on the eco-system of large-scale construction. More significantly, the generation of income for the local economy is often lower than envisaged. The majority of income can often go to multi-nationals such as airline companies and hotel chains.
Recent years have seen a growth in what is termed ‘eco-tourism’. The aim of eco-tourism is to unite conservation and communities through sustainable travel. So what are the key elements of eco-tourism? In addition to minimizing the impact of tourism on the environment, successful eco-tourism should also raise the awareness of cultural and environmental issues amongst the local host destination and the visiting tourist. Eco-tourism should be a positive experience for the local community as well as the tourist. Finally, eco-tourism should offer clear financial benefits to local people and to local conservation issues.