Article Review on
The Multi-Dimensional Impact
Of International Tourism
Hany H. Makhlouf, University of the District of Columbia, USA
Most countries – be they developed or developing, rich or poor, and large or small – compete for a larger share of the international tourism dollars. They capitalize on their cultural heritage, historic landmarks, rich wildlife, ancient monuments, scenic beauty, and other distinctive attractions and invest in world class resorts, hotels, and entertainment facilities to increase their appeal to the greatest numbers and different types of international travelers. However, success in international tourism is not without a cost. Aside from the investment needed for developing, upgrading, and maintaining the tourism infrastructure, there are environmental and social costs that need to be measured and carefully managed. Although many economists point to the revenues that are earned by destination countries from international tourism, some observers in developing countries show concern about the creation of a state of economic, political and cultural dependency that may have long-term negative consequences.
This article explores the history, present importance, trends, and growth patterns of international tourism. It addresses a number of questions: 1) Has international tourism been a curse or a blessing for countries that have become economically dependent on it? 2) Have recent trends been more or less favorable to the poorest countries? 3) What are the forces that bring about shifts and changes in international tourism? and 4) What are the future prospects for this industry?
Tourism being one of the oldest industries in the world dating back to 3000 B.C. when only few elite used to travel to foreign destinations for leisure. In middle ages , religious tourism was on rise, however the cultural and recreational tourism was within reach of large number of people by 19th century. Presently, international tourism is 4th largest among world’s leading industries behind energy, chemicals and automotives. By 2010, the number of international tourists reached about 940 million and the revenue from it reached to around $919 million growing at the rate of 4 to 7 percent annually. The number of tourist destinations has also increased with increase in the revenue and the number of tourists with the developing and emergent economies attracting increasingly larger numbers of tourists. One interesting fact is that the percent of international tourism that accounted for Europe from world has fallen from 98 to 57 from 1950 to 2007, indicating growth of developing countries in international tourism. International tourism accounts for 83 percent of foreign exchange earner for developing countries and the leading export earner for one-third of the world’s poorest countries, yet as an industry its far below its potential. There is room for growth with more investment in the infrastructure and tourism-related businesses and more ambitious tourism management and marketing strategies.
WHAT IS TOURISM?
The term “tourism” implies different things to different people. It is quite challenging to arriving at a universally acceptable definition of tourism is finding a commonly accepted explanation of who constitutes an international tourist. WTO (1995) defines it as “The activities of persons traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business or other purposes”. Based on its definition of tourism, WTO defines tourists as “People who travel to and stay in places outside their usual environment for more than twenty four (24) Hours and not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business, and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited”. Thus according to this definition they have excluded individuals who...