Responsible Tourism

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Question : Critically analyse whether the implementation of responsible tourism principles makes better business sense than traditional mass tourism.

While responsible tourism is fast becoming a global trend nowadays, some may wonder if it makes better business sense than traditional mass tourism. By defining the words “business sense” from Cambridge dictionary, it means an understanding of the ways in which business works successfully and/or if something makes good business sense, it will help a business to succeed. Tourism is a huge business. In the last twenty to thirty years, tourism both as an activity and an industry has a sustained growth, estimated to comprise US $5890 billion or 9.9% of total world GDP, and employing more than 22 million people in 2008 (UNWTO 2008). Therefore, it is worth to pay a high attention to analyse whether the implementation of responsible tourism really makes the industry flourish. First of all, it is important to understand what mass tourism and responsible tourism are. Mass tourism cannot be simply defined even not any from The World Tourism Organization. The conceptual of it is the act of visiting a popular tourist destination such as the London Eye, Eiffel Tower, and Great Pyramids and so on with large amounts of people at one time. From a paper of the South Pacific Tourism Organization (2003), Mass Tourism tends to have the following characteristics including a concentration on high volume sales with high throughputs and turnarounds, full utilization of packaged holiday components offered as single product at an all inclusive price, often with a short term time frame and development of large scale transport system, infrastructure, accommodation, supporting facilities and attractions within destination, usually at a fast pace and often supply led. Mintel (2003) described the mass tourism industry as being ‘like most profit seeking industries [in relying] heavily on short-term gains, often disregarding long term effects’. Yet, mass tourists do not consider ethical or responsible issues like the well being of local citizens or environmental friendliness when choosing their travel destination. Instead, they consider attractive and popular destinations. It is obvious that if there are more tourists go to the destination, much money would be earned and not only the scenic spot itself but also other things that surround the sight like hotels, restaurants and etc. However, because of mass tourism involves an overwhelming amount of tourists, excluding the benefits it brings, many negative effects will occur as well. For example, the environment can be hurt when millions of people rush to a country and begin using its natural resources, some rich business owners or groups from other countries enter to the country building up beautiful resorts, theme parks and so on that attract tourists, resulting damages to their original living habits. Moreover, very limited share of money spent in holidays actually get to the local community and their traditional cultures would also be detrimental. Those the negative impacts of tourism (and tourists) which are well documented in the literature (Young 1973; Turner and Ash 1975; de Kadt 1979; Mathieson and Wall 1982; Krippendorf 1984; Pearce 1989; Sharpley 1994; Burton 1995; France 1997; Theobald 1998). Different from mass tourism, according to Responsible Tourism Handbook (2003), responsible tourism is a tourism management strategy embracing planning, management, product development and marketing to bring about positive economic, social, cultural, and environmental impacts and which matched the concept of the Cape Town Declaration on Responsible Tourism in Destinations, responsible tourism is an approach to the management of tourism, aimed at maximising economic, social and environmental benefits and minimising costs to destinations. Simply put, Responsible tourism is tourism ‘that creates better places for people to live in, and better places to visit’....
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