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The Cultural Impacts of Tourism on the Host Communities

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The Cultural Impacts of Tourism on the Host Communities

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  • October 2008
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The cultural impacts of tourism on the host communities

The impact that tourism has on the cultural lives of communities is one of the most important issues debated by tourism researchers and academics today. There is an increasingly growing concern that tourism development is leading to destinations losing their cultural identity by catering for the perceived needs of tourists. Although they take longer to appear, the cultural consequences of tourist activity have the potential to be much more damaging in the long term than environmental or social effects. In many countries, tourists are not sensitive to local customs, traditions and standards. Offence is given without intent, as tourists are short-stay visitors carrying with them their own cultural norms and behavioural patterns. They are usually unwilling to change these norms for a temporary stay – and may be unaware that these norms are offensive to the host community. Commercialisation of traditional cultural events and customs is leading to ‘fake folklore’ for the tourists, but more importantly, with no cultural value for the local population or the visitors. The issue is the potential conflict between the economic and cultural interests, leading to culture being sacrificed for reasons of promoting tourism i.e. creating an additional economic value at the price of losing a cultural value.

Leonard J. Lickorish, Carson L. Jenkins (1997), An Introduction To Tourism

Tourists are sometimes presented with a commercialised and stylised presentation of a destination’s cultural identity, which may lack authenticity. This is currently happening in parts of South America, for example. This destination is becoming ever more popular and in places such as Paraguay, the cultures and traditions are in danger of disappearing. The native Indians have become mercenary, changing their traditional dances for the tourists’ benefit. The dancers now put on a show for the tourists and are dressed in a...