Tourism, the advantages, disadvantages and how to improve the practice
Around the world, 44 countries rely on tourism for at least 15% of their workforce and national GDP. Many of these countries are island nations or countries that don’t have a highly developed economy or business sector. As the United Nation’s agency, the World Tourism Organization, states, increased tourism can boost developing countries’ local economies, cultural discussion and job opportunities. However, if developing nations solely depend on the tourism sector and dismiss infrastructure development and other essential services, the disadvantages of tourism can outweigh the advantages.

The Advantages

For developing countries, the advantages of tourism tend to be primarily monetary. A large scale tourism industry prevents larger, more harmful businesses from working off the land. Small tourist companies that reign on the land stops large capitalistic corporations from polluting the air or gentrifying people’s homes.

The tourism industry encompasses many different travel areas, which allows the majority of a country’s population to be employed. These employment places include hotels, car rental agencies, restaurants, tour companies, souvenir shops, and equipment shops, among others.

Profit earned from tourism can be reinvested into the country for better infrastructure, education, funding conservation efforts and creating more responsible ways of touring. Without tourism, many countries would not have the same level of access to education and infrastructure. Moreover, tourism allows hosts and visitors to share cultures and meet diverse groups of people. Through respectful interactions, a broader view of the world from both parties can be achieved. By reinvesting the money earned back into the country, tourism and its attractions can grow, creating a positive cycle for the country.

The Disadvantages

With the way the tourism industry is currently run, the disadvantages of tourism may greatly outweigh the advantages in a country. The first factor to take into consideration is environmental damage. When a country has a high tourist attraction, the number of people occupying a space increases immensely. As a result, the release of carbon monoxide gases can increase due to plane and car use affecting the country’s environment. Many countries with ancient ruins or natural attractions are also in danger of destruction or erosion with significant foot traffic and human interaction. Additionally, flora and fauna can decrease in areas or change their growth and migration patterns when there is an overflow of humans interact. Foot traffic and continuous touching can also slowly degrade the stability of ancient structures.

One of the advantages breached upon the sharing of cultures. While this is a great interaction of beliefs and customs, it can become destructive to a host country’s culture. One of the ways cultures can be disrespected is through the commercialization of countries’ cultures. When tourism booms, large industries swoop in and sell figures of the cultures’ icons or traditional wear, disrespecting the countries’ indigenous beliefs and can be harmful to the people living there. Moreover, poor behavior from tourists who don’t respect the spoken or unspoken codes of conduct held by indigenous peoples also undermines the sacred beliefs held within the country.

Also, for many countries, tourism is a seasonal occurrence. For people that work in the tourism industry, their jobs are only viable for a certain number of months, and after the season has ended, many are left without income. Many of these jobs also lack the benefits that other sector jobs supply. Tourism workers are often left without insurance or pension. Not to mention, foreign businesses tend to overtake the companies present in these countries, forcing small businesses to shut down. As a result, foreign businesses keep the majority of profits from tourism, while local businesses lose their income. This hurts small businesses and local economies.

As previously stated, the profit gained from tourism is often reinvested into the industry. However, with unequal infrastructure development, the tourism industry can inadvertently sustain itself without aiding a country’s other vital sectors. As such, many countries end up developing tourism hot spots while the rest of the country suffers. In these countries, there are visible socioeconomic gaps between the wealthy and the poor. Focusing mainly on the tourism industry and places of mass attraction leaves disadvantaged communities at risk of financial instability. Moreover, countries solely invested in tourism are vulnerable to quick economic falls as its working sectors are unevenly balanced. If a natural disaster, political unrest or unprecedented pandemic were to strike, the country would lose a massive income, causing an economic recession that some countries may significantly struggle to bounce back from.

Ways to Respectfully Travel

The most important step to being a respectful tourist is to be an educated tourist. Understanding and respecting the culture and the people of the country is vital. By not undermining tourism countries’ culture and beliefs, the people living there will be more welcoming to tourists, and cultures can flourish without fear of commercialization.

Being environmentally conscious is also important to the survival of these countries. Respecting a country’s land and structures preserve the countries’ beauty and keep the land clean and prepped for further development. Many countries are more environmentally strained, so reducing pollution or your carbon footprint in a foreign country can help ease the strain.

Supporting the small and local businesses found in these countries can help keep local communities employed and support the overall economy.  As local businesses grow, more people will have the opportunity to be employed outside of the tourism sector, and the economy will be able to grow within itself.

By learning the advantages and disadvantages of tourism, and how one can improve the practice of traveling, the tourism industry will be able to change for the better and support the countries that host people from all over the world.

– Marlee Ingram
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in ChileChile is a small, narrow country in South America blessed with magnificent mountains and gorgeous Pacific Ocean views that attract tourists from all over the world. The World Bank estimates that Chile has a higher life expectancy than the United States and classifies it as a high-income country despite its many impoverished regions. Like many other countries, however, Chile has experienced substantial economic distress in the wake of COVID-19 due to the high infection rates. In fact, Chile has one of the highest COVID-19 rates in the world with more than 364,000 confirmed cases as of 5 August 2020 in a population of only 18.7 million. Fortunately, in an effort to quickly recover from the crisis, the National Police formulated an unconventional, yet clever plan to combat COVID-19 in Chile.

Poverty & COVID-19 in Chile

Confirmed cases in Chile have steadily risen since May, beginning in high-income neighborhoods and slowly infiltrating low-income communities where the virus has caused the most damage.  The country has remained under a national state of emergency since mid-March and is now experiencing Phase 4 of the outbreak, which includes “uncontrolled and widespread community transmission,” forced quarantine in some areas and even a nationwide curfew. The Chilean government closed the country’s borders on 18 March 2020 to all tourists, cruise ships and other unnecessary traffic, excluding citizens and permanent residents who must be quarantined for 14 days upon re-entrance.

Tourism prevention has been particularly harmful to Chile’s economy since the country shut down in March. The country was named the 2017 Best Destination for Adventure Tourism in the World with more than 5.6 million people visiting each year, a group that has consistently stimulated the economy by nearly 13% annually. Jorge Rodriguez, Chile’s Minister of Economy, Development and Tourism stresses that tourism “is strategic for the growth of Chile,”  but COVID-19 is decelerating the progress tourism has made in the last decade.

The World Bank identifies Chile as one of Latin America’s “most unequal countries” because there are two socioeconomic extremes: incredibly impoverished or wonderfully wealthy. There is no middle class, forcing socioeconomic status to determine whether a person hopelessly struggles under government dependence or flourishes in their own monetary independence. Because people living in poverty must rely on assistance from the government, poor Chileans are suffering now more than ever as COVID-19 devastates the economy.

Retrievers to the Rescue

Luckily, the Chilean government, in partnership with the Catholic University of Chile, has constructed a strategic recovery plan that relies on retrievers. Chile’s National Police has embarked on a journey to teach K-9s to find COVID-19 in crowds. Three highly trained pups, with experience in drug and bomb detection, are learning to sniff out human odors specifically emitted by prospective patients.  COVID-19 itself does not have an odor, but minor metabolic changes can be detected as well as “volatile organic compounds” according to Fernando Mardones, professor and epidemiologist at the Catholic University of Chile. Those distinct markers enable the K-9s to intelligently track and discover people who are either asymptomatic or just entering the earliest stages of infection. Once a target is located, the “bio-detector dogs” do not scratch or use their killer bites. They simply sit by the COVID-19 carrier for discrete identification that prevents panic.

K-9s to Conquer COVID-19

The program currently remains in pilot stages but should be fully implemented by mid-September where the K-9s will be immediately deployed to high population centers. By the end of the training, one K-9 will be able to search more than 250 people in one hour with more than 95% accuracy. After the K-9s successfully memorize how to detect the virus in humans and remove COVID-19 patients from densely populated areas, confirmed case numbers in Chile should steadily decline. The country will then be able to reopen its ports and borders. Reestablishing its rightful place as one of the world’s most sought after tourism destinations will allow the economy to heal as travelers renew their plans to enjoy Chile’s beautiful scenery and exhilarating adventure sites.

Economic stability boosted by tourism revitalization will ease the concerns of people in poverty because the government will return to adequately assisting low-income regions as it did before COVID-19. Hopefully, extinguishing the virus in Chile will begin to bridge the gap between the country’s seemingly untouchable upper class and its disadvantaged lower class, giving impoverished people a chance to thrive.

-Natalie Clark
Photo: Unsplash

Poverty in Iceland
According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Better Life IndexIceland‘s quality of life is very high. The country also has the highest employment rate of any OECD country. Simultaneously, however, poverty in Iceland affects 6,000 residents.
According to the Iceland Review, as of early 2015, around 9 percent of the population in the small country of Iceland fell into the low-income category. Recently, that number is steadily dropping thanks to a booming tourism industry. In 2011, upwards of 13 percent of the population fell below the poverty line.


Tourism Fights Poverty in Iceland


The 2008 financial crisis took a major toll on Iceland’s economy, leading to homelessness and unemployment. As a result, a Welfare Watch was created the following year in order to help alleviate these conditions.

In addition, the recent popularity of Iceland as a tourist destination has helped bounce the economy back towards its former financial success. The growing tourism industry has also created many new jobs for Icelandic residents. Unemployment rates have fallen and 45 percent of the jobs created within the past five years are related to the tourism industry.

There is no rest for the tourists — rental cars and lodgings are rapidly booked, even during the coldest months of the year, and Airbnb locations are second only to increasingly booked hotels. However, a host told Grapevine that he does not believe that even Airbnbs (in combination with traditional lodging vacancies) can meet the high demand.

The Icelandic bank, Islandsbanki’s projected future tourism rates estimate that in 2016 alone visitors will equal, or surpass, the number of people who live full-time in the island nation. Iceland’s growing fame has been attributed to volcanoes, inexpensive flights and layovers through Icelandair, as well as pop culture references like Game of Thrones.

Although many Icelanders are rejoicing at the tourism industry’s success, others are still wary of the future. The waterfalls and volcanoes of Iceland are major tourist honeypots, but increased crowding to these areas may be dangerous to both the environment and its visitors.

In the future, tourists may be discouraged to visit Iceland if the Icelandic Krona appreciates, causing prices to rise, or if the economy takes another hit.

There is also the fear that Iceland may lose part of its charm and culture as foreigners flock in. This is a trade-off for alleviating poverty in Iceland. Iceland is in need of money and, in the words of Bradley Turner of Grapevine, “The market doesn’t care much for memory, nostalgia, sentimentality, history.”

Poverty in Iceland continues to decline as a result of increasing visitors, but financial security comes at a price. Ironically, the Icelandic landscape and culture may be negatively affected by the country’s newfound popularity.

Carrie Robinson

Photo: Flickr

Ending Poverty Through Tourism in China

China has announced it will work on moving 12 million people out of poverty by developing the country’s tourism industry. On May 19, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang stated that over the next five years, China will make a great attempt towards ending poverty through tourism development. The Premier made this announcement at the inaugural World Conference on Tourism Development in Beijing.

While China is best known for its rich urban cities, many rural areas are still steeped in poverty. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development, approximately 40 percent of China’s poor live in rural areas. China hopes to boost tourism to rural areas so that more money flows through these regions.

By developing their tourism industry, China will also be able to increase the number of jobs available to individuals. According to Xinhua, tourism makes up only 4.9 percent of China’s gross domestic product, yet directly employs 28 million people.

In 2013, the BBC discussed the way in which tourism development is directly linked to poverty alleviation. The article quoted the acting Chief Executive of the Travel Foundation U.K. as saying, “Tourism has been described as the world’s largest transfer of resources from rich to poor.”

However, the Foundation also asserted that it was difficult for these resources to stay within poor areas. While China’s rural and natural areas may attract foreigners, it is crucial that the Chinese government reinvests tourism profits back into these communities.

This strategy of poverty alleviation through tourism is not new: The United Nations’ World Tourism Organization Network created an initiative in 2002 called Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty that aims to support developing countries, improve and grow their tourism industry and bring communities out of poverty.

China’s five-year plan for ending poverty through tourism development comes after the United Nations’ announcement in December that 2017 would be the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. According to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization, in terms of international arrivals, China was already the third most visited country in the world in 2015, a mark they hope only to build on in the future.

Isabella Farr

Photo: Flickr