Tourism is defined as any activities related to travel away from the usual home for at least 1 night, but no more than 1 consecutive year, for the purpose of leisure, recreation, holidays, visiting friends and relations, business or other professional reasons.

Different types of tourism

Mass tourism: organised movement of large groups of people to tourist locations; eg. cruise ships, all-inclusive resorts, packaged vacations

Alternative tourism (or niche tourism): involves individually planned activities such as camping, fishing trips, etc.

Sustainable tourism: meets the demands of the tourists whilst preotecting and enhancing the destination of travel for the future

Ecotourism (a specialised form of sustainable tourism): involves responsible travel to natural areas, thereby conservinc the environment and improving the well-being of the local people.

Global tourism

As you can see from the graph shown above, tourist numbers have grown rapidly between 1950 and 2010, and are expexted to increase even faster.

This is likely due to the following factors:

Rising income of the middle class leaves a larger share of the population with more money to spend in their leisure time.

Decreasing time and cost of travel due to the availability of commercial air traffic, which is much faster than other forms and has become cheaper over the years.

More tourist destinations are becoming available, allowing everyone to choose their favourite type of stay.

Increasing desire to experience different cultures and landscapes causes people to travel to religious or famous destinations, as well as remote and pristine areas

Media coverage and advertising has made people aware of the ever-increasing tourist destinations and improving means of travel.

Globalization has increased international migration, so people travel to visit friends and family abroad.

Government incentives have encouraged tourism to increase tax income and improve the local economy

Organisation of international events such as World Cups, film/music festivals or other cultural happenings attracts many people to visit a destination.

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Benefits of tourism

Tourism provides employment for skilled and unskilled workers, eg. in construction (as hotels and sites have to be established),  as a tourist guide, as a waiter in a hotel, etc.

Results in the development of touristic infrastructure, such as transport facilities (eg. airports, harbours and roads), financial services and waste displosal systems, equally benefiting the local commerce and industry in the primary and secondary sectors, eg. agriculture.

Tourism is viewed as an effective development strategy, as the multiplier effect increases the circulation of money in a touristic area. This is because an initial investment in tourist facilities increases the spendings of tourists, thereby bringing more foreign money to the area and attracting other sectors of employment.

Also, tourism can lead to cultural exchange and greater understanding between different nations.

Tourism may reinforce the preservation of heritage and traditions, including religious tourism, such as pilgrimages to Mecca.

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Disadvantages of tourism

Inflation (rise of local prices) may arise due to the increased demand for basic services and resources, increasing the local cost of living.

Leakage means that the tourist’s money leaves the country of destination (host economy), as money goes to international companies such as airlines and hotel chains rather than to the local businesses or workers.

  • Import leakage: leakage due to the import of food and other products that are not available locally or not up to the tourist’s standards
  • Export leakage: oversea investors- often MNC’s (multinational corportations) and large foreign businesses take profit back to the country of origin as they posess the capital to invest in tourism

Overreliance on tourism can create economic problems, as this major source of income and employment can collapse due to changing tourism pattern, economic recession and natural disasters. Besides, the tourist industry is mainly a seasonal business, often resulting in temporary employment.

Degradation of the natural environment due to mass tourism or unsustainable management can result in atmospheric pollution, waste dumping.

  • Increased noise pollution and litter
  • Increased congestion on pavements and roads
  • Increased air pollution from greater vehicle use
  • Sewage systems can become overloaded and sewers discharging into the
    sea can cause pollution

Excessive exploitation of resources beyond the carrying capacity

Loss of locally owned land due to foreign purchase and investment if not carefully managed by responsible goverment

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Tourist attractions

Primary tourist attractions: pre-existing attractions for tourists eg.  climate, wildlife, scenery, cultural and heritage sites

Secondary tourist attractions: include any  services that have been constructed to accomodate or facilitate tourists eg. hotels, catering, transport, entertainment and shopping malls