Tourism and Indigenous People

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BA (Hons) Tourism Marketing

Year 3

1.0 AN INTRODUCTION According to the United Nations definition of indigenous people, they are “descendants of those who inhabited a country or a geographical region at the time when people of different cultures or ethnic origins arrived” (United Nations, 2011a). It is estimated that there are about 370 million indigenous people around the globe in over 70 different countries. They keep their own political, social, economic and cultural qualities and also their unique traditions which separate them from other major societies in which they live (United Nations, 2011a). Nowadays, when tourists interact with indigenous cultures it is seen to be restricted to a master/servant encounter and sometimes is seen as an unoriginal representation of these people‟s long-established and cultural lifestyles (Hinch & Butler, 1996). Hinch & Butler (1996) go on to say that “factors within the external environment may have particularly strong influences upon the outcome of indigenous tourism”. These influences which they mentioned included the economy, culture, physical environment, socialdemographics and politics (Hinch & Butler, 1996, page 12). The economic considerations to take into account are very important for tourism – the development of the economy through the tourism industry has actually been implemented as an approach to promoting economic independence for indigenous people (Hinch & Butler, 1996). It is known that for over the past two decades tourism impacts have been defined under three main headings – economic, environmental and socio-cultural.

Within the context of tourism, this report will deal with indigenous people through issues they come to deal with during their everyday lives. From positive impacts which can come in the form of monetary benefits for them through tourism activities and an increased sense of pride for their culture, to more pressing issues, which include exploitation of their traditional knowledge and detrimental effects on their homelands by tourism. Most importantly and of utmost significance in our world today is the manipulation of indigenous people‟ rights as inhabitants and I felt a strong need to discuss particular topics which are very relevant today in society and which pose great problems for the future of indigenous people. I separated the topics under 3 classic terms – economic, environmental and socio-cultural. Firstly, I will talk about tourisms economic impact on indigenous people, where I based my research on three short case study examples of tourism and indigenous communities from Mexico, Southern Belize and Namibia. 1 6/12/2011

BA (Hons) Tourism Marketing

Year 3

2.0 ECONOMIC ISSUES “In many developing, or so-called third world countries, the tourism industry has become an economic activity – one that impinges upon social, economic, cultural and environmental structures” (Amador-Greathouse, 2005, p709). The tourism industry, in some form or another, brings about both positive and negative economic impacts for a multitude of people. Particularly in rural areas, the diversification which is created by tourism helps communities that are perhaps dependent on only one industry and in turn, they can create additional income through working in tourism (Kreag, 2001).

2.1 Importance of the Economy for Indigenous People The main strength that impels the tourism industry is income and literally all of the written matter which deals with these economic impacts looks at foreign income and also the generation of jobs (Bauer, 2008). An example by Hundt, A. (1996) in Jamaica showed that tourism development in the area actually did reap some rewards in the form of increased wealth and an improvement in the position of people‟s health, but it also recognized that the money which was generated from tourism was not utilised in the appropriate way and did not improve the health of the people who needed it more than others. On the other hand, Manley...
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