I live in a sea-side town – Weymouth in Dorset. At the moment it takes me 30 minutes to get to work rather than the normal 5. There is no doubt that a huge number of local residents get extremely fed up with having so many people invading their home town but, at the same time,
the sensible ones realise that it is a necessary evil in order for the town to survive.
Think of the traditional package holiday to Spain, and you have the worst possible example of tourism. Brits can enjoy an English breakfast, and survive in a British enclave in Spain with no exposure to the local culture. On the other hand, people who join such holidays may
not be looking for a cultural experience, but may simply enjoy the atmosphere in a decent climate. Who can blame them for that?
Can you imagine the world without tourism? Knowledge of other countries would be accessed mainly through the unreal world of books, radios, television and the Internet. Without physical interaction, it would be difficult to achieve world peace and promote understanding
of environmental issues, security threats and poverty. Tourism is a way in which people from different countries can understand cultures, religions, and recognise existing problems.
While mass tourism does not have any really negative effects on developed countries, it can have a harmful effect on underdeveloped areas of the world. In those communities, some local people may be employed in the tourism industry, but most will be exploited and paid
a substandard wage. When I travel I go out of my way not to buy package holidays. I know then that the money I spend goes to the people themselves and not to the few that run the resort. Try it, your vacation will then be a real and honest experience.
Tourism creates a lot of local jobs, inputs foreign cash and encourages development in places where maybe all they have is natural beauty and history to sell. It is true that uncontrolled development can cause environmental and social problems, but please leave that to the locals
to worry about. There is something patronising in the attitude that we should not go to visit remote parts of the world and bring them our money in order to protect them.
Yes, tourism does change the culture, not always for the better, but not always for the worse either. There are those that say that Barbados has been spoiled by becoming more commercial. However, the quality of life of the average Barbadian has improved through the
direct and indirect benefits of tourism. No, it’s not the same beautiful island it was 20 or 30 years ago, but the standard of living is higher for the average guy in the street.
Tourism is the natural expression of our wanderlust. It is this heroic pioneering spirit in us that took us to the moon and back. How dreary we would be if we never ventured away from home. Humanity was created to associate in love and harmony. Tourism is an excellent way
of facilitating that process.
(adapted from Mass Tourism, BBC News Talking Point, August 2001)