Social & Cultural Impact of Tourism

Social & Cultural Impact of Tourism

Tourism may have different effects on the social and cultural aspects of life in a particular region depending on the strengths of the region. The effect can be positive or negative. Tours also focus on unique natural or geographical features like the coastline, islands, mountains, health resorts, countryside, etc. At such locations, the provision of tourist services and the pressure of tourists are bound to have impacts on the environment, economy, and local social practices and on the people.

Tours can be within national boundaries or in any place in the world. Such a decision will have an impact on the economy of both, the country of origin and the tourist’s destination site.

Social and cultural consequences of tourism originate from the ‘encounter’ or ‘contact’ with the tourist. To understand this we need to have an understanding of the role of the tourist, the host, and the encounter; awareness of the importance of the concept of the demonstration effect; an understanding of the consequences of tourism for host societies; and an awareness of the process and result of cultural change brought about by tourism.

As tourism reaches out to ever more distant and exotic locations, often in lesser-developed countries, the consequences of visitation upon the host community and their culture has become an important issue. Tourism can support community economically through employment, spending, and infrastructure development but also bring less desirable consequences for host communities, prompting both social and cultural changes within those societies.

Reasons for Social & Cultural Impact

  1. The contrast between affluent tourists and residents in the poorer countries of the world can be startling in terms of behavior, language, and culture – contrasts that can lead to significant and irreversible, changes in the host society.
  2. Tourists bring back new cuisines and customs, which are slowly adopted
  3. Societies and cultures are constantly evolving and often tourism can be a scapegoat for the inevitable change that would have occurred without tourism
  4. Tourists are strangers in the destination, their behavior, language, and way of dress are often significantly different from the host leading to the idea of social or cultural distance. This means that whilst the tourist can act as a catalyst for change in the host society, the tourists themselves are vulnerable to crime and exploitation, simply by their status as strangers who are less aware of local behavior and habits

Positive Social & Cultural Impact

To boost tourism huge money is invested to preserve the local heritage, to improve infrastructure, to provide better local facilities which in turn creates better education, better leisure facilities, organizing frequent social events and thus a better lifestyle for the locale people. They interact with the tourists; mix with people from diverse backgrounds which create a cosmopolitan culture in the region. Due to the demand for better services, varied employment opportunities are created within the region and therefore people do not feel the need to migrate to other cities to earn their living. Given below is some positive impact of tourism:

  1. Where tourism is developed, it acts as a magnet for employment, often attracting the young and female from the rural hinterland to work in the resorts
  2. Leads to rural depopulation and by giving females economic independence
  3. Awareness and recognition of the destination is enhanced and both the locals and the industry will be exposed to ideas from other countries and international good practice
Social & Cultural Impact of Tourism

Negative Social & Cultural Impact

Due to the heavy traffic in the region, the infrastructure may not be able to cope with the increased rush thus leading to overcrowding, poor sanitation which may further lead to diseases bot to the tourists as well as local people. The intrusion of outsiders in the area may disturb the local culture and create unrest among the people. The local people may copy the lifestyles of tourists through the demonstration effect and the result could be the loss of native customs and traditions. Some people may enter into criminal activities to fetch easy money from tourists who lead to increased crime and anti-social activities and loss of moral and religious values. Given below are some negative impacts of tourism:

  • Has the effect of diverting labor from the land, and from more traditional craft-based enterprises, threatening their existence
  • Impact on the quality of jobs and seasonality
  • Local people may be relocated to make space for tourism development
  • The danger of economically powerful groups emerging and the balance of power can shift from local decision-makers to national and international players
  • Decisions relating to the development, marketing, and promotion of the destination will not be made locally
  • Inflated prices in the shops and high land or property prices
  • Tourism has been associated with low moral standards including prostitution, crime, and gambling, although of course tourism is an easy target to blame here

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