Introduction - 6.3
Tourism is the world's second largest export earner, generating approximately US $79 billion annually. Only the oil business generates more. In 1980, 285 million tourists reached destinations throughout the world, with 85% originating from North America and European countries. This represents an eleven-fold increase since 1950.
Developed countries receive 90% of all tourists and 83% of all tourist receipts each year. For developing countries, however, their seemingly insignificant share of tourist receipts is often the major export earner.
Airlines, hotel firms, tour operators, construction companies, food suppliers and management firms, governments, unions, private and public national and international agencies shape international tourism.
DISTRIBUTION OF WORLD TOURISM RECEIPTS, 1976 (Percentage)
Region countries countries
Africa 3.0 0.5
Western hemisphere 7.5 18.0
Europe 2.0 61.0
Middle East 2.5 -
East Asia and Pacific 2.5 3.5
South Asia 1.0 -
Total 16.5 83.0
Source: WTO, Regional Breakdown of World Tourism Statistics, 1973-1977. Cited in UNCTC 1982:5.
HISTORY OF TOURISM
Modern mass tourism is descended from the 19th century tradition of the "Grand Tour," whereby elites traveled throughout Europe.
Travel was facilitated with the expansion of European railway systems which transported droves of city dwellers to the countryside. As the distinction between urban and rural began to reflect that of work and leisure, what was distant became an ideal, while the reality at hand was fraught with the more stressful and mundane aspects of daily life.
The idealization of indigenous peoples followed. In the imaginations of Westerners, indigenous populations were identified with the simplicity of their environment and the purity of their rural surroundings.
Tourism today is founded on the same romanticism, travel being one modern remedy for "civilization's discontent."
With improvements in transportation technology, and the rise of air travel, increasingly distant destinations have become popular. The touristic potential of developing countries around the world has been "discovered." Third World nations are now brimming with smiling, friendly natives busily entertaining tourists with their quaint, primitive and exotic ways. The many institutions that have come into being to support tourism are usually accomplices to the distorted packaging of the host country's reality.
Through the efforts of tourism promoters, troubled hill villages in Pakistan have become "delightful sportsman's paradises," India is portrayed as "a land of opulent palaces and women who dance like goddesses," and Japan, "the Orient of your dreams."
Despite the dishonesty inherent in most touristic advertising, the World Tourism Organization (WTO) believes that tourism contributes to: international understanding, peace, prosperity, and universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all...
The WTO has further stated:
Through the recreation afforded by tourism, especially through social and cultural activities, each individual is able to develop his personality and tastes and come to know and understand others better. Such recreation, rest and relaxation, however, cannot be tied to a break with time and place of work, as if to say "Take a holiday and get away from it all!"
"Getting away from it all," however, is precisely what motivates the majority of tourists. They want to indulge in the luxury, exotica, sex, warm climates, beaches,
WHERE THEY COME FROM
Millions of International
West Germany 14.0 40.4
United States 20.1 28.1
France 5.7 38.1
Canada 9.0 13.3
United Kingdom 5.7 13.0
Netherlands 3.4 9.8
Belgium-Luxembourg 2.5 5.9
Italy 3.0 5.0
Japan 0.5 4.0
Switzerland 1.4 3.8
Sweden 1.8 3.4
Australia 1.8 3.0
Sources: For 1989, Service World International (November 1970). For 1976, figures supplied by WTO. Cited in UNCTC 1982:93.
WHERE THEY GO
Number of Tourist
Arrivals (rank order)
Spain 1 1
United States 6 2
Scandinavia 5 3
Italy 3 4
France 4 5
Canada 2 6
Austria 7 7
United Kingdom 11 8
West Germany 8 9
Switzerland 9 10
Yugoslavia 11 11
Hungary 17 12
Poland 20 13
Bulgaria - 14
USSR 18 15
Greece - 18
Mexico 19 17
Romania - 18
Netherlands 13 10
Belgium-Luxembourg 14 20
Source: WTO, World Travel Statistics, 1976. Cited in UNCTC 1982:92. scenic beauty, or wildlife of their destinations. Only occasionally are they interested in genuine cross-cultural experiences.
ECONOMICS OF TOURISM
The enthusiasm with which Third World policy makers pursue tourism development is probably ill-founded. Tourism, an invisible export, is generally thought to:
- Generate jobs
- Provide foreign exchange with which to pay for consumer, and capital imports that countries cannot produce locally
- Generate taxes and other revenues for governments
- Stimulate activity in the agricultural, industrial, and commercial sectors of the economy
- Foster foreign and local investment and capital formation
Yet all too often, tourism demands numerous imports, the creation of highly complex technology and infrastructure the host country cannot afford. When multinationals invest, profits are siphoned abroad. Yet if too heavily taxed, multinationals refuse to invest. Development of a tourism industry may be one way of appealing to banks for improved infrastructure. (From 1971 to 1979, the World Bank alone approved US $549 million for tourism projects in developing countries.) But in some economies, such developments present an image of modernization and technical achievement that belie a country's true condition. A desire to create symbolic institutions of modernization - high rise hotels, swimming pools, airports - often overshadows the desire to alleviate poverty.
TOURISM AS PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL GROSS EXPORT EARNINGS(*)
Country 1976 1966
19% or more
Greece 21.6 17.6
Jordan 37.0 27.1
Morocco 24.0 13.5
Spain 21.1 44.2
Tunisia 19.5 11.9
12% to 18.9%
Jamaica 15.1 35.0
Malta 16.5 50.0
Mexico 14.0 40.6
Panama 14.8 9.8
Portugal 12.3 21.7
Yugoslavia 16.4 6.7
6% to 11.9%
Brazil 7.6 0.6
Ireland 7.5 15.8
Israel 6.2 7.0
Kenya 8.0 9.9
Peru 6.8 3.7
Philippines 7.5 4.3
Turkey 9.8 1.5
0% to 5.9%
India 5.4 0.1
Malaysia 0.7 0.5
Mauritius 6.5 2.3
Pakistan 3.1 0.3
Republic of Korea 3.1
Sri Lanka 4.5 0.4
Thailand 5.6 4.1
Trinidad and Tobago 5.5 2.7
Source: Computed from International Monetary Fund, Balance of Payments Yearbook, 1966 and 1976. Cited in UNCTC 1982:96.
In addition, tourist affluence may stimulate local demand for foreign goods, further increasing imports.
Jobs, if created by tourism, may be short-lived after initial infrastructure is finished, and leave workers unskilled for occupations in more traditional, stable sectors.
The WTO wants to make sure that "tourism creates jobs and jobs that are not mechanical or alienating but based on reciprocal relations and help in integrating the individual in a more balanced society."
However, most jobs for indigenous people in tourism are service jobs - making tourists' beds, serving them food and cleaning their bathrooms - hardly the tasks to foster reciprocal relations and a balanced society.
AVERAGE PROFITS AND OPERATING COSTS FOR LUXURY/FIRST CLASS HOTELS, 1977-78
Gross sales revenue
Average costs Gross
and profits for Wages Employee operating Management
luxury/first class and benefits profit value fees
hotels in salaries added
Europe 25.0 8.0 26.6 59.0 2.0
Southeast Asia 17.0 4.0 25.0 46.0 3.4
South Asia 14.0 4.0 38.0 56.0 5.6
Oceania 33.0 4.0 20.0 57.0 1.7
South America 19.0 10.0 28.0 57.0 1.2
Africa 15.0 5.0 31.0 51.0 5.1
Middle East 17.0 8.0 37.0 62.0 5.5
Far East 20.0 3.0 27.0 50.0 5.8
Source: UNCTC 1982:52.
Tourism development can be divided into three phases: an initial phase when tourists "discover" destination; a second stage wherein there is local response to tourists; and a third stage wherein touristic industries - crafts, hotels, restaurants, and recreational businesses - are institutionalized, and where possibilities for foreign investment and profits are highest, unless carefully monitored and regulated.
While it is frequently argued that some foreign ownership, especially of luxury hotels, is desirable, for reasons of market connection, management expertise, and capital acquisition, operation of such hotels, however, is consistent with foreign values rather than domestic or local ones. To counter this, governments can encourage indigenous participation at all management levels, as well as require local training courses for foreign employees.
In addition to controlling foreign interests, policymakers should consider such factors as size of resorts, rate of growth, location, and distribution of tourism as well as environmental precautions. These factors affect the benefits and consequences of tourism.
AVERAGE HOTEL REVENUE FOR LUXURY/FIRST CLASS HOTELS, 1977-78
Gross sales revenue
rate Rooms Food Beverage Other
Europe 74 51 25 12 13
Southeast Asia 70 42 31 15 13
South Asia 75 55 26 9 10
Oceania 71 43 32 18 8
South America 78 50 25 17 9
Africa 73 44 28 14 14
Middle East 80 49 31 10 10
Far East 76 43 35 12 10
Source: Pannell, Kerr, Forster and Co., Trends in the Hotel Business. 1978. Cited in UNCTC 1982:51.
Indigenous response to tourism depends on the society in question. Predisposition of indigenous peoples to foreign influences, in this case, tourist affluence, new industries, and a changed physical environment, cannot be predicted easily. But representation of indigenous groups in policy-making organizations can guide the development of tourism to less disruptive ends. While indigenous groups usually have minimal, if any, control over tourism, studies show that to the extent that tourism depends on the participation of a host community it is more stable, successful and profitable than tourism controlled by outsiders. The negative effects of unmonitored tourism may include overcrowding in tourist areas, rapid urbanization, labor shortages in non-tourism sectors, prostitution and hostility toward tourists' affluence, resulting in thievery.
Conflict between locals and tourists could be subdued with minimal sensitivity from tourists, yet, to "get their money's worth," tourists feel entitled to wear swimsuits in public, make love on the beach, and demand servility, all of which encourages local hostility.
Despite whatever protective regulations go into effect, tourism remains a statement of fundamental inequality, whereby the "haves" can travel halfway around the world for pleasure while the "have nots" struggle for subsistence beneath their noses. Indigenous people are not oblivious to this paradox.
The question of who controls tourism cues a more fundamental issue: minorities' rights to self-determination.
While governments must begin to regulate tourism they must also, to guarantee its benefits to the country, heed the opinions of the local groups that tourism affects most directly. This can be done by incorporating indigenous representation into national and regional administrative and decision-making bodies.
By doing this and by encouraging more truthful publicity and educational programs, fuller and more genuine communication can be instituted between tourists and locals. Film strips, documentary brochures, and historical presentations could all be an entertaining and informative aspect of the touristic experience. These could be initiated by airlines, hotels, and tour operators as well as local institutions or the host community. Likewise, hotel training schools can encourage understanding, creativity, and communication skills rather than rote service and technical skills.
Tourism can support and reaffirm cultural identities or it can degrade and parody differences, promote illusions, and intensify cross-cultural conflict. The choice is in the hands of the decision-makers.
* Gross export earnings do not take into account the import requirements of the tourist sector or the profits that are syphoned off to non-resident owners, either public or private. In Bermuda, Jamaica and Kenya, for example, UNCTC reports that from 21 to 34% of gross earnings are used for imports or payments abroad. In Fiji, payments for imports alone use 50% of the earnings from tourism.
Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.