Over the years, there has been a longstanding debate about whether or not the unintended consequences of tourism in developing countries could be detrimental to locals in a developing community. On the other side of the argument, some tourists argue that tourism contributes to a flourishing economy and increases diversity.
One important aspect that contributes to a more positive outlook on tourism is the attitude of both tourists and locals regarding foreign travel. Leaders of countries with successful tourism industries tend to emphasize certain ground rules to encourage the community to view the tourists as a source of wealth creation, not of charity. This attitude contributes to a more healthy relationship between tourists and locals and fosters more respectful interactions instead of a transactional relationship.
In Rwanda, the majority of the country’s revenue comes from wealthy safari tours and other tourism cooperatives. The natives have welcomed tourism as a large contributor to their economy and a necessary part of life.
The life of Mukasinadere, a member of a weaving cooperative in Rwanda, has been completely changed by the tours. Working as a weaver and selling baskets to tourists, she is now able to pay for her family’s basic needs. As a result of these cooperatives, the economy in Rwanda is flourishing, food is abundant and mortality rates have decreased substantially.
Aside from financial improvements, tourism also has positive effects on infrastructure development. Tourism encourages local customs, artwork and festivals which contribute to a better cultural understanding for both tourists and locals.
Facilities in areas with high tourist traffic are often much more high-quality, not to mention more sanitary, than local facilities which increases the quality of life and health for locals. Environmental tourism encourages wildlife and nature preservation in addition to providing funding for these causes that might not have received allocations otherwise.
While tourism in developing countries is a controversial and often stigmatized topic of discussion, it is important to remember the positives that tourism affords for the local community and aspects of cultural acceptance.
– Sarah Coiro