Impact of Tourism Development on the Economy and Health of Third World Nations Anna Hundt
International tourism has quickly become one of the most important economic industries in the world.’+ In the 1950s and 1960s,the most popular destinations for tourists from developed nations were other developed nations. However, as international travel gained popularity, tourists became more “savvy” and more cost-conscious, and they began malung “intercultural” excursions to underdeveloped regions of the wor1d.h tourists searched for adventure and bargains, destinations began to include Mica, SoutheastAsia, and Latin America. In 1987,theThrd World’s market share of international tourist spending amounted to 29.10/0;5that figure is steadily increasing. Table 1 illustrates the economic importance and social impact that tourism has had worldwide. It is equally important to understand who is investing in tourism development and who is profiting. As many economically poor and resource rich countries struggle under the burden of onerous foreign debts, tourism development is seen as a panacea for economic woes. Foreign lenders agree with, and encourage, this belief by providing capital for tourism development.’ As tourism around the world has grown, there has been a concomitant rise in researchers’ interest in studying the economic, political and social costs and benefits of tourism development for native and guest alike. Unfortunately, one area in which reporting remains biased is the impact of tourism development on health. Indeed, if health and tourism issues are addressed at all it is usually in reference to tourists’ health problems (e.g., travelers’diarrhea, malaria).”’The majority of studies on natives’health focus almost exclusively on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The literature has few, if any, systematic studies that document the impact of tourism development on the general health and wellbeing of natives. Possible reasons for the lack of data on natives’ health are the inherent difficulties in measuring meaningful differences in health status, and, perhaps most importantly, lack of funding for this type of study. It is in this “health vacuum” that tourism development will be analyzed.This paper attempts to detail the economic benefits that tourism development has to offer Third World nations. Its proponents argue that tourism development leads to economic growth and prosperity, and it is implied that natives also benefit directly or indirectly from t ~ u r i s n i .The question this paper seeks to ~.~ address is whether this implication holds true for health care. How much money canThirdWorld nations expect to make if they invest in tourism development? Does an econoniy stimulated by tourism have additional resources which it can use to improve health care? Do natives of tourism countries have more economic power to purchase better health care? Requirements for Tourism Development
Generally, there are six requirements for a country
to sustain tourism:’*’”
I . Attractions: These can include beaches, mountains, forests, animals, people, archaeological ruins, shopping, sex, etc. 2. Social Infrastructure: Some level of development that allows for hospitals, transportation, some economic stability, some degree of protection against personal injury and theft. Table 1 International Travelers: Volume and Expenditure Patterns, 1950-1990
Anna Hundt, BA: International Health Program, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. Reprint requests: Anna Hundt, BA, International Health Program, MS 357660, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195 J Travel Med 1996; 3:107-112.
1950 1960 1970 1980 1990
25.3 69.3 158.7 204.8 425.0
2.1 173.9 145.0 29.0 107.5
N/A 6.9 17.9 102.4 230.0
N/A 229 159 472 125
Source:World Tourism Organization, 1991
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