Social, Economic and Environmental Impacts in Tourism

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The large scale impacts of Tourism include environmental, socio-cultural and economic impacts. Impacts can be positive, as well as negative, but should never be underestimated. The concept of sustainability is factored into these tourism impacts, when the size of the impacts become large enough to drastically alter economic, socio-cultural and environmental areas of a tourist destination. The importance of these impacts will be analysed and evaluated in this essay, keeping in mind that this will be kept within the context of sustainability. With the use of academic literature, the three impacts highlighted will be discussed, along with the concept of sustainability, to highlight the importance of these crucial issues to sustainable development of tourism.

The term sustainable tourism means, tourism that is developed in such a way so as to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Lawton & Weaver, 2006, pp. 343). This is an important concept when analysing the various impacts of tourism industries within a particular area. Keeping this in mind, the Sustainable tourism values and principles model will be used to demonstrate points of interest, and to analyse the various impacts in more detail.

The importance of the economic impact on a tourist destination cannot be stressed enough. According to Gartner (1996, pp. 64), “The money brought into an area through the process of hosting tourists provides more economic return than simply the sum of the expenditures accruing to the few businesses that come in direct contact with tourists. Almost all sectors of an economy benefit economically from tourism”. The monetary benefits that are generated by the local economy can be used to re-invest in the tourism industry, and also be used in sustainable development practices.

The following example is taken from an article titled, “Estimating the Economic Contribution of Visitor Spending in the Kruger National Park to the Regional Economy”, and will help to highlight the economical impacts of tourism. Kruger National Park is located in South Africa and is known for its abundance of exotic and rare animal species. A recent study, including a survey, into the economic contribution of the National Park to the regional economy suggests that a total of 241,038,644 rand, which roughly equates to 42 million Australian dollars. The results of the survey show that visitors to the park contribute most of the revenue towards accommodation and shops. According to a tourism audit conducted in 2002, there are a total of 2,077 people employed within the National Park, which amounts to 7.21% of total employment within the regional area, which is higher than other industries within the region, including electricity, construction and finance. As a result, the report concluded that it is very important to create a National Park, which is well equipped for tourists to spend their money in. The economic impact generated by the National Park also contributes to the economic sustainability of the park, as the revenue generated by the park, can be used to develop and use conservation practices, to ensure the sustainability of the National Park for the future. The research also shows that although the contribution is small to the economy, it is making significant contributions to the growth and development of the tourist industry, which is currently a significant sector in terms of production and employment. On the contrary, the economic impact of tourism doesn’t always have an immediate impact. The following example, also based in South Africa, helps to show why economic impacts might not be felt straight away, and also have an impact on destination marketing. The journal article titled, “Analysis of spending patterns of visitors or three World Cup cricket matches in Potchefstroom, South Africa”, will be the basis of this example. According to the research conducted into the...
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