Socio Cultural Impacts of Tourism

Topics: Tourism, World Tourism Organization, Maldives Pages: 9 (2965 words) Published: November 4, 2010
Tourism is an activity done by an individual or a group of individuals, which leads to a motion from a place to another. From a country to another for performing a specific task or it is a visit to a place or several places in the purpose of entertaining which leads to an awareness of other civilizations and cultures, also increasing the knowledge of countries, cultures, and history (Central Department of Tourism & Summer Resorts 2006). Tourism is an important industry that depends on culture and science. According to the Miriam’s Webster’s dictionary environment is defined as: the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual or community. Tourism and the environment have a very complex and interdependent relationship. Tourism is one of the largest industries in today's world economy and is a great source of foreign exchange for many developing countries, whose major assets are their natural resources. At the same time, it is the environmental quality of a place that will determine the success of the tourism industry, since it is the principal attraction.

There have been disagreements on whether tourism in beneficial or harmful to the environment, and this paper lays out the arguments for both sides. This analysis will illustrate that tourism, if unplanned and unregulated, can be extremely harmful to the environment, and therefore needs a better, more sustainable alternative that involves the local population in the planning and management of tourism. Tourism is Jamaica's largest foreign exchange earner and fastest growing industry, and its natural resources, such as its beaches, clear water culture and vegetation, are the primary selling points for tourists. Stephanie Tullen (Reference) states that; Tourism does seem to be much less harmful than other industries, such as manufacturing and the bauxite industry. The tourism industry has a stake in the preservation of the environment on which it is based. At the same time, tourism provides the economic means with which to do it. There is evidence from the United States and Europe that tourism has promoted restoration and preservation of historic sites. Tourism has also encouraged conservation of natural resources in places like Africa by establishing national parks and reserves. In the case of these poorer countries, tourism brings in much needed foreign exchange, as well as employment opportunities, demand for local products and improvement in the local infrastructure.

It is clear from these arguments how tourism and the environment benefit and depend on each other. However, this does not take into account the carrying capacity[1] of these tourists areas. The environment will probably be damaged if overused, and if the limits of its carrying capacity are surpassed, the ecosystem will lose its sustainability and "be damaged or destroyed for a long time, if not forever. Since most countries at their first stages of tourism development have no control or proper planning for tourism, the carrying capacities of their environment were not taken into account and thereby abused. This is the case for most developing countries in the present time, and therefore, there is most likely a conflicting rather that a symbiotic relationship between tourism and the environment.

But the increasing pressures of tourism on the island have caused severe environmental problems: inadequate sewage systems have caused the deterioration of water quality and damage to the coral reefs; construction of the shoreline has caused severe beach erosion due to the obliteration of sand dunes and has caused wetland destruction. Even the crafts industry has contributed to the environmental degradation of Jamaica by causing the reduction of black coral formations and encouraging the theft of coral reefs for...
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