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Tourism Is Of Major Economic And Social Significance

1051 words - 4 pages

Tourism is of major economic and social significance. More than 720 million tourists spend $480 billion annually in places outside their own country (WTO, 2004). This is one of the largest items in the world’s foreign trade. The significance of tourism has been recognized in both developing and developed countries. This can be seen in the establishment of sophisticated and well resourced government departments of tourism , widespread encouragement and sponsorship of tourism developments, and the proliferation of small business and multinational corporations contributing to and deriving benefits from the tourism industry. In 2005, the tourism sector accounted for 3 % to 10% of the GDP of developing countries. The contribution of tourism to economic growth and development is reflected in the form of exports since it represents 40 percent of all xports of services, making it one of the largest categories of international trade (UNWTO, 2006). There is widespread optimism that tourism might be a powerful and beneficial agent of both economic and social change, some even advocating that it might be a force for world peace. Indeed, tourism has stimulated employment, investment and entrepreneurial activity, modified land use and economic structure, and made a positive contribution to the balance of payments in many countries throughout the world. At the same time, the growth of tourism has prompted perceptive observes to raise many questions concerning the social and environmental desirability of encouraging further expansion. Do the expenditures of tourists benefit the residents of destination areas? Is tourism encouraging prostitution, crime and gambling? Does tourism rejuvenate or erode the traditional arts and crafts of host cultures? Do governments direct their development priorities to satisfy the needs of tourists rather than residents? Are residents financing expensive tourist facilities through their taxes? Is tourism contributing to the destructions of the very resources which initially attracted the tourists?

Stewart (2007) argued that the study of person–environment relationships began in the 1960s and now includes values, beliefs, attitudes, and reflective attitudes concerning territoriality, personal space, crowded and stressful environments, home environments, place attachment, and environmental assessments. He divided the topics into a threefold classification, namely, the adjustment paradigm, opportunity structure paradigm, and sociocultural paradigm. Thus, residents may have to make adjustments to their daily patterns of life as tourists begin to encroach upon what was previously the space occupied by residents alone. Second, tourism creates income and employment opportunities, but equally not all residents would wish to avail themselves of these potential resources. Third, the sociocultural framework within which residents live may become increasingly commoditized to the needs of the tourism industry unless spatial and temporal...

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