Millions of people travel around the world every day, whether for work, vacation, personal leisure or to visit family and friends. In less than a day, you can fly to any corner of the world you please; you can go to sleep on a flight leaving from the U.S. and wake up in Europe or Asia. Advancements in international travel have shrunk the world, making once inaccessible regions open to tourists from all over the globe.
The travel and visitation to other countries, known as tourism, not only allows for personal exploration and adventure, but it also serves as a key factor in maintaining international relations and the international economy. Here are some reasons why tourism can help redefine a country’s image:
1. Tourism campaigns can change the way foreigners perceive a country.
A prime example of this phenomenon is seen in South Africa. In South Africa’s history filled with racially-based conflict and identity challenges, the detrimental period of apartheid has become one of the nation’s most well-known historical markers. The government, largely through the tourism sector, has successfully managed to secure its newfound democratic identity as an interracially knit community of diverse peoples which is equally supportive of all races and ethnicities. Through various video and advertising campaigns, the country created a new label for itself: the rainbow nation. Since then, South Africa’s tourism sector has seen widespread growth, and the country’s efforts to unite its ethnically and culturally diverse population has led to a revamping of the entire economic sector, largely caused by tourism.
2. Tourism boosts the economy.
Tourism is widely used as a tool to ignite economic and internal progress. According to the U.S. Travel Association, the tourism industry generates over two point one trillion dollars in economic output every year. This type of large-scale spending is often the sole savior for countries buried in debt. Additionally, 15 million jobs are supported by travel expenditures (includes eight million directly in the travel industry and seven million in other industries). Think about the wide variety of employment opportunities here: airlines, tour guides, travel consultants, and many more.
3. Tourism creates domestic and foreign appreciation of culture and heritage.
When you visit another country, you gain a sense of appreciation for that country’s existing culture and heritage. Many travelers use tourism solely for this purpose: to learn and appreciate the diverse ways in which other people live their lives. This appreciation, however, goes both ways. When a country creates tourism campaigns and celebrates its own national pride and beauty in order to convince foreigners to visit, this also fosters a sense of citizens’ pride and national identity.
4. Tourism can help a country re-populate.
Tourism Excellence, a business created to help the tourism industry prosper, said, “In many areas tourism has helped to slow or halt the drift to cities, by not only making the local area and its employment opportunities more attractive to young people, but by attracting ‘sea changers and ‘tree changers’ from major population centers.” Increasing an area’s population can transform a place from being a small town to a highly-populated, desirable location to live, which has unending benefits for a country’s image.
All of these points further clarify the importance of the tourism industry to a country. Travel and tourism remain essential components to a country’s economic, cultural, and social success.
– Hanna Darroll
Sources: Tourism Excellence, U.S. Travel Association