For those of you that have ever gone on vacation, you know how special an experience it can be. And by vacation, we don’t mean visiting your parents for the holidays – vacations shouldn’t trigger migraines. By vacation, we mean the “saving up money for months, taking time off of work way in advance, buying a fanny pack” type of vacation – not a trip, but an honest-to-goodness vacation. Unless you yourself happen to live in a tourist destination, chances are you don’t even think about the other side of the equation when visiting another part of the world, or another part of your own country. If you did, then you might feel a bit guilty for renting, then erratically driving, those scooters you find in beach towns, or taking that slow guided tour through the busy streets of downtown.
Most people either never even consider this, or if they do, they don’t want to think about it, because a vacation is supposed to be stress-free fun, and no one should feel guilty about taking a vacation. But in reality, there is a downside to tourism – the places you’re visiting, no matter how magical they may seem, have residents who live there all year round, and they, the businesses, environment, everything, are all affected by tourism. Today, we’re discussing the negative side of tourism, and how the throngs of tourists can have a detrimental effect on their dream destination. Hopefully, we don’t scare you away from traveling after reading this article, but if it does freak you out a bit, then this course on traveling with confidence, and this article on packing for travel should be enough to get you excited about it again.
Some of the following negative issues associated with the otherwise-enriching experience of tourism and traveling may seem obvious, and others you probably never would have thought of. Either way, try to be aware of them next time you plan a trip somewhere, and try your best to be a conscientious traveler.
Stress on Insufficient Infrastructure
Many times, local governments are unable to prepare for the dramatic influx of people that accompany a destination’s “busy season”, or for a special event, like the ones that revolve around sports, such as the World Cup or the Olympics, or a cultural event, like Carnival or Mardi Gras. Traffic jams and crowded streets full of ambling tourists can bring local life to a grinding halt. Granted, all the planning in the world can’t make already-existent streets any wider, but with major events only getting more and more packed as population increases, without sufficient planning, tourism can put a strain on local facilities and infrastructure, which may prove difficult, and perhaps impossible, for a community to overcome.
Loss of Privacy
There are countless local communities the world over that have felt a loss of not only privacy, but the feeling that their town is no longer theirs. Whether it’s a small medieval city in Italy, or a colonial town in Central America, excessive tourism can can strip the locals of a feeling of privacy. It may be due to the newly-packed restaurants and bars, or the very streets that used to be empty, it’s not unusual to feel as if their humble town has been taken over by outsiders.
Change of Priorities for Government
Because the local governments of smaller towns and cities are easily overwhelmed, especially if they happen to be a popular tourist destination, or are poised to become one, they may start focusing on the potential influx of money brought in by tourists’ dollars, sometimes at the cost of focusing on local issues. This may be especially true if a community is not yet a destination, but has some type of event or landmark it can use to bring in revenue. They may decide to focus attention and resources on this potential cash flow rather than the local population and its issues.
Anyone who’s been to a popular tourist destination knows that they’re going to spend a lot of money, not only due to the volume of purchases, but because tourist destinations tend to jack up the prices of everything: food, hotels, drinks, services, etc. Many tourists don’t think about this, but the locals must also pay they exorbitant prices, which are at their current state directly due to tourism. To learn how to stay on budget when on the road, check out this course on traveling more and spending less to save some bucks.
Local Job Market Affected
In tourist destinations that tend to rely on the weather for their tourist dollars, like places in the Caribbean, or towns with good skiing, a majority of their workforce is tourism-reliant. What this means for them is that many, if not most of these jobs are seasonal, and virtually non-existent in the off-season, and when they are working, these positions tend to be low paying. Hopefully this situation doesn’t describe you, but if it does, or you’re just out of a job right now, no matter where you live, then this course on getting a good job will help you work on your resume, as well as your networking and interviewing skills.
Resources and Land Affected
This issue is related more to destinations that cater to nature-lovers, and whose tourist appeal lies in their physical beauty. These communities tend to be on the smaller side, and feel the magnified effects of the tourism industry more so than other places might. Here, natural resources such as water, energy, food, and even habitat areas, which were possibly already in precarious positions, feel much more strain when a large population is using them, in addition to the locals. Also, the physical land may be at risk of negative affects. Soil erosion, pollution, discharge into water, deforestation, and issues with local species of animals and plants may come about due to the increased activity. If you’re planning a trip to a beautiful destination, in addition to respecting the physical beauty, make sure you document it, as well, and this course on the art of travel photography will show you how to take better photos of the beauty that surrounds you.
When a tourist destination also happens to be sacred, with spiritual and/or religious notions and activities associated with it, there’s a good possibility that these places and ideas can just become entertainment and commodities to some visitors. Associated with the concept of “reconstructed ethnicity”, various rites, rituals, festivals, and places that are seen as spiritually important, may end up taking on an air of entertainment, possibly resulting in changes in local values, as well as lost respect for these things.
Tourists go to a place because it’s different than what they’re used to, which influences some destinations to play up their “unusualness”, but not too much so. While they may attempt to keep their identity for tourists, destinations sometimes don’t want to be too “different”, and must water down and standardize their product, as well as throw in the food and hotel chains that many tourists feel comfortable with.
Hopefully we haven’t scared you away from your next vacation to a tropical paradise, or a small ancient town. All we wanted to do was inform you of some of the potential downfalls of the normally glamorous tourism industry. Rarely do people discuss the other side of this coin, and while these situations may not always be the case, they very well could exist – just be aware of them, and try to be a respectful and conscientious tourist next time you’re on vacation, and make sure you document your travels well, which this course on travel journaling will help you out with.