Free Essay About Can Tourism Be Sustainable In The Twenty-First Century?
Can tourism be sustainable in the twenty-first century?
Sustainability is the development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations to meet their own needs. Tourism is as a result of individual’s search for a cool, pristine and natural area away from the daily buzz of working places. The desire drives such individuals on the quest to identify and visit places that can provide this kind of environment. Sustainable tourism is needed to provide the natural environment without jeopardising the people and the environment in a way that would be costly in future or cause its depreciation. The talk on sustainable tourism has for a long time been just theoretical, however, with increased urbanisation, industrialization and development of countries, an urgent need to conserve the natural environment has arisen.
Social Aspects of Tourism
Tourism has both positive and negative social cultural aspects. The society in question at this point is that of the host country or state. Due to the need to attract tourists and make them comfortable, areas of tourist attraction enjoy good infrastructure such as roads, electricity and water supply. To the residents in this area, that is appositive effect of tourism. There is also an increase in the employment opportunities. The locals are able to work at the tourist centres as guides or attendees and carry out other hospitality duties. Recreational parks and other opportunities are readily available in such areas which are an added advantage to the residents of that area. However, on the negative side, the residents of a hosting area may develop hostile attitude towards tourists due to congestion. Too many tourists at a single location at one time become a put off to the residents, littering, noise and increased traffic is also a negative social impact of tourists.
Cultural Aspects of tourism
Tourism provides the best way for cultural exchange among different people. It fosters cultural appreciation, understanding and acceptance among people with different beliefs and ways of life. Also in a bid to stay viable in the tourist market, local communities are encouraged to preserve their cultural identities and ways of life. The preservation of culture is what keeps the tourists coming. With this in mind, tourism can be said to also promote cultural unity as communities come together to preserve what is uniquely theirs. Research study by UN has however shown that some tourists visit sites for purpose of self preservation and consolidation of their own image. They do this by being indifferent to the host communities, not really showing interest in their culture as they believe theirs to be better and more advanced. A scenario like this does not promote cultural exchange but creates animosity among different cultures.
Economic Aspects of tourism
The reason why tourism is a celebrated industry and one that governments are keen to keep alive is due to its economic benefits. The positive economic effects of tourism are felt from the citizens of the host country to the government. Tourism is a great source of foreign exchange. The foreign cash that tourists use to cater for their needs within the host country is usually higher than the local currency. The difference in currencies provides extra money for the host governments to improve facilities and cater for the country’s needs. Creation of employment of job opportunities for local residents boosts their economic standing.
Developments of infrastructure, increased tax on items as well as regional development are some of the benefits. However, tourism has had some negative economic impact. Leakage is a scenario where the government uses the money acquired through foreign exchange to buy foreign goods that will be used by tourists when they are in the host country. The money may be used by foreign tourist operators such as foreign airlines, hotels and accommodations that are owned by foreigners. Increase in prices also affects the economy negatively as citizens are also forced to use the same amount as tourists to purchase goods and services.
Environmental impact of tourism
The environmental impact is mainly felt when the number of tourists are more than the environment can sustain at a given time. The pressure created on land by such scenarios lead to soil erosion, loss of natural habitats, depreciation of natural habitats and pollution. Water sources are the ones mainly affected. Natural water sources are used for swimming, bathing and other recreational activities by tourists. The consistent use leads to lowering of water level and pollution of the same. Areas such as mountains and hiking grounds that are frequently toured are prone to face soil erosion due to the constant trampling on the soil. Other than soil erosion, such areas suffer reduced plantation that may eventually lead to desertification.
The above aspects of tourism are the main drive in the tourist industry. However as time progresses, the negative aspects seem to be gaining the upper hand whereas the positive aspects remain constant of decrease. The main reason for this may be argued to be the fact that tourism depends on land and natural vegetation, yet the human population is constantly increasing while the former remain constant. The constancy therefore calls for the need to have sustainable tourism policies. The idea behind sustainable tourism was brought about by several reasons. These reasons caused a sense of apprehension among tourism researchers and stake holders in the entire industry.
Urbanisation is one of the threats facing the tourism industry. The growth of towns leads to steady encroachment into natural land reserves such as forests. The increased populations, need for industrial area working space and expansion of businesses all demand land. However, land is constant and does not increase, therefore, this leads to encroachment into natural lands that were initially meant for nature. The encroachment into such lands leads to the fleeing of wild animals, destruction of beautiful scenes that are a source of tourist and attraction and eventually, it leads t the depreciation of tourism industry within the urbanized areas.
Pollution is mainly caused by modes of travel as far as tourism is concerned. There is massive traffic along roads leading to tourists’ destinations. The carbon dioxide released from the vehicles is a source of pollution. Also on tourist sites, there are vans and trucks that are driven within the natural environment. The travel vans introduce pollution to these areas that are meant to be natural free of pollution. Littering and dumping is another source of pollution.
The above are just but two examples of threats to sustainable tourism that lead to a lot of other smaller issues. The World tourism organisation is the body charged with coming up with policies and strategies that maintain the tourism industry. In a guide compiled by UNEP and World Tourism organisation, there are provisions on policy measures for sustainable tourism. The guide recognizes that tourism is an international agenda and only by corporation by all stake holders will sustainability be achieved. Among the instruments suggested are measurement instruments. The measurement instruments enable a country to gauge its tourist capacity with the number of tourists it allows at a time. The instrument also enables a country to be able to assess areas facing the highest negative impact as far as tourism is concerned and come up with ways to remedy them.
Command and control is another instrument put in place to ensure sustainability. The instrument provides for governments creating law that regulate the industry and also gives them permission to penalise those who do not adhere to these policies. Setting of economic instruments involves mainly regulations on taxes and charges. The regulations should guide the market on charges that are friendly to local residents but also are profitable at the end of the day. There is also a provision for voluntary instruments. The directives given under this section are not mandatory but are helpful to states. They include among other things, setting of codes of conduct for tourists. Such would prevent a scenario such as dumping and littering.
With the foregoing in mind, tourism is a lucrative industry that promotes peace and unity among different states. For the global village to continue growing together as a whole, embracing diversity, the tourism industry needs to stay alive. The policies set up are seen to be effective in some countries. However a lot more needs to be done. The theoretic part of sustainable tourism has been covered but very little of the practical part. Therefore, I believe that the 21st Century is capable of sustainable tourism; however a lot has to be done on the ground level.
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