Discuss the environmental and social impacts of tourism in the UK and consider whether the benefits exceed the costs.
Tourism is a fast growing industry and a valuable sector, contributing significantly to the economy (“The Social & Cultural Impacts of Tourism”, n.d.). It has been generally accepted that tourism is, for the most part and with relatively few exceptions, beneficial to both generating and destination countries (Holloway, 2009, p. 114). Some researchers are less sure that this is the case. This essay will discuss the environmental and social impacts of tourism in the UK considering whether the benefits exceed the costs. The socio-cultural impacts on host communities are the result of direct and indirect relations with tourists and of interaction with the tourism industry. For a variety of reasons, host communities often are the weaker party in interactions with their guests and service providers (“Socio-cultural impacts”, n.d.). It is very difficult to measure the way in which the presence of large number of tourists affects the society and culture of host areas. In many cases, the effects are gradual, invisible and complex. (Davidson, 1993, p.165). The impacts can be positive, such as the case where tourism enhances the cultural exchange between two distinct populations. The impacts can also be negative, such as the commercialisation of arts and crafts and ceremonies/rituals of the host populations (Cooper, Fletcher, Gilbert & Wanhill, 1998). Some of the beneficial impacts of tourism on society include the following: the creation of employment, the revitalisation of poor or non-industrialized regions, the rebirth of local arts and crafts and traditional cultural activities, the revival of social and cultural life of the local population, the renewal of local architectural traditions, and the promotion of the need to conserve area of outstanding beauty which have aesthetic and cultural value (Mason, 2003, p. 43). In Britain, for example, many great buildings from eighteen and nineteen century would have been lost had it not been possible to convert these factories, mills and warehouses into living museums for the tourist (Holloway, 2002). With the increasing secularization of Western societies, it is also tourists who will ensure that great cathedrals survive as the costs of maintaining these buildings for dwindling numbers of worshippers can no longer be borne by the ecclesiastical authorities alone(Holloway, 2009, p.114). Whole inner-city and dockland areas have been restored and developed to make them attractive as tourist sites. Moreover, London would be a poorer place without its tourists: 40 percent of West End theatre tickets are bought by tourists (Holloway, 2002, p.354). Tourists’ use of public transport enables residents to enjoy a better and cheaper service than would otherwise be possible (Holloway, 2009, p.114).Country crafts, pubs, even restoration of traditional pastimes such as Morris dancing, all owe their survival to the presence of the tourist (Holloway, 2003, p. 355). There is also the socio-cultural impact of tourism on the visitor population. For instance, the growth of UK tourists visiting Spain throughout the 1960s and 1970s resulted in culinary and beverage changes in the UK (paella and Rioja wine being two Spanish products that benefited from this exchange) (Cooper, Fletcher, Gilbert & Wanhill, 1998, p. 169). Visitors to Australia adopted the beach-based lifestyle and the barbecue when they returned home (Cooper, Fletcher, Gilbert & Wanhill, 1998). However, tourism has the reputation for major detrimental effects on the society and culture of host areas (Mason, 2003, p.43). Tourism can cause: change or loss of indigenous identity and values, culture clashes, social stress, ethical issues, crime, deteriorating working employment conditions (“Negative Socio-Cultural Impacts from Tourism”, n.d.). Tourism can induce change or loss of local identity and values, brought...
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