by Ben Heron
is now the world's biggest industry and it is expected to grow
much larger. Tourists are always looking for new places to visit
and the governments of less-developed countries continue to pursue
foreign exchange, investment, employment and economic growth.
On the surface, tourism may seem like a beneficial trade; the
tourists enjoy their holidays and the host countries enjoy "economic
growth", but it is not as simple as that. There are many
knock-on effects, both positive and negative, which largely depend
on the attitudes and approaches taken by those that participate
in and control the industry.
Unfortunately, very few people know much about the negative consequences
of tourism, so the industry has become more geared towards making
short-term profits than ensuring long-term sustainability. This
has created many problems that are especially evident in less
developed countries where large numbers of Western tourists can
put a great strain on the hosts' limited resources and can cause
significant changes to the hosts' culture.
The essential prerequisite for sustainability is "to be
able to meet the needs of the present without compromising the
ability of future generations to meet their own needs". Many
host communities in less developed countries are attempting to
meet the needs of a growing number of Western tourists as well
as their own needs, something that often cannot be done without
jeopardizing the resources of future generations. As a result,
host populations and tourist enterprises are often in danger of
unwittingly destroying the very things that attract tourists in
the first place, not just the hosts' natural environment, but
also their way of life and culture.