Tourism is often considered a “magic bullet” for local economic development because it has the potential to generate significant revenue and create employment opportunities in a relatively short period of time. But do we have the appropriate gun to use the magic bullet?
The impact of tourism is undeniable. It is instrumental to the creation of jobs across various sectors such as hospitality, transportation, retail, and tourism promotion. In 2019, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), for instance, noted that the Philippine tourism industry led to the creation of 9.5 million jobs in 2019. This declined to 6.49 million because of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns but eventually gained traction due to the easing of health protocols. In 2021, the total contribution of travel and tourism to employment is 7.82 million.
The tourism industry is also a major contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP) which was noted to be at 22.5% in 2019. The figure dived to 4.8% but started to rise to 10.4% in 2021. As of 2021, the contribution of tourism to GDP is US$41 billion.
Tourism is likewise a significant source of foreign exchange earnings for a country. Visitors spend money on transportation, accommodation, food, and souvenirs, which can have a positive impact on the country’s balance of payments. It can also can help diversify a local economy by creating opportunities for small businesses to offer products and services targeted at tourists. This diversification can help a community become less dependent on a single industry or sector, which reduces the risk of economic shocks.
Further, tourism can drive significant investment in infrastructure such as airports, roads, and public spaces. These investments can benefit both tourists and local residents, improving the quality of life and enhancing the attractiveness of the destination.
Lastly, tourism can create an incentive for the preservation of cultural heritage sites and traditions, which can help local communities maintain their identity and sense of place. Hence, the religious and other festivals.
But while tourism does offer many benefits, it is important to note that it can also have negative impacts. These include the following:
- Overtourism: When tourism activities exceed the carrying capacity of a destination, it can lead to overcrowding, traffic congestion, and degradation of natural and cultural resources. Boracay, for instance, was closed for six months starting April 26, 2018 as part of the Philippine government’s efforts to rehabilitate and redevelop the island.
- Environmental degradation: Tourism activities can have negative impacts on the environment such as increased pollution, soil erosion, and land degradation. This can also have negative consequences for local ecosystems and wildlife habitats.
- Cultural commodification: The commercialization of local cultures and traditions for tourism purposes can result in the loss of authenticity, erosion of local traditions, and exploitation of cultural heritage.
- Labor exploitation: The tourism industry is often associated with low-paying jobs and poor working conditions for local workers as well as human rights violations, such as child labor or sex trafficking.
- Displacement of local communities: Tourism development projects often result in the displacement of local communities due to land expropriation, infrastructural development or gentrification of local neighborhoods.
- Increased prices: Tourism can lead to an increase in prices of goods and services in the destination, sometimes beyond the reach of local residents, and can create inflationary pressures on the local economy, often leading to socio-economic inequality.
- Unsustainable development: In the absence of proper planning frameworks, tourism can lead to the development of unsustainable, low-quality facilities that cater primarily to short-term tourist visits, rather than promoting long-term sustainable development.
As bullets do not choose their targets, so is tourism. Therefore, an “appropriate gun” for the “magic bullet” is needed and this is sustainable tourism practices. Sustainable tourism involves promoting responsible tourism development that respects the environment, culture, and local communities, while generating economic and social benefits for all stakeholders, including tourists. It focuses on maintaining and enhancing the quality of life of local communities and preserving natural and cultural resources for future generations.
Sustainable tourism practices can include efforts such as:
- Promoting cultural exchange and education between visitors and local communities.
- Encouraging the use of renewable energy and efficient use of resources.
- Reducing the carbon footprint of tourism activities, including transportation and accommodations.
- Ensuring fair labor practices and respect for workers’ rights in the tourism industry.
- Protecting and respecting local wildlife and flora while ensuring tourists’ safety.
- Implementing responsible waste management and recycling practices in destinations..
- Planning infrastructure development and capacity management to avoid over-tourism.
- Promoting local and environmentally sustainable product purchasing.
By implementing these sustainable practices, destinations can ensure that their tourism activities are less harmful to the environment, local communities and are capable of providing long-term benefits to the destination and its people.
One thought on “Tourism as “Magic Bullet””
Reblogged this on http://www.biklish.com and commented:
When I tried compiling the details of the different festivals in the Bicol Region, I was shocked to note that there are overlapping schedules. Albay’s Magayon Festival, CamSur’s Kaogma Festival, and Catanduanes’ Abaca Festival are all happening in May. Add the town and barangay fiestas on said month. This has positive and negative implications.
The overlap in festival schedules in the Bicol Region can have both positive and negative implications for tourists and the tourism industry in the region.
On the positive side, the overlapping schedules could provide a variety of options. Tourists who are visiting the region can take advantage of multiple festivals and enjoy a variety of cultural experiences. It can also increase tourism by attracting more visitors thereby generating more tourism revenue for the region. Lastly, tourists will also be treated with cultural immersion. With a range of cultural festivals happening at the same time, tourists can immerse into the local culture and traditions.
On the negative side, however, overlapping schedules of festivals may put a strain on the already limited resources of the region such as accommodations, transportation, and food. Second, the festivals will also distract audience. Tourists may have a hard time choosing which festival they want to attend which may lead to a distracted audience, and may prevent them from fully participating in all the festivals. Lastly, overlapping schedules may lessen the uniqueness of each festival as visitors may attend the same sets of activities in different locations.
Given these, and to maximize the positive implications as well as minimize the negative implications of overlapping schedules of festivals, the tourism industry spearheaded by the regional Department of Tourism, should focus on proper tourism planning, marketing, and coordination between different festival organizers. By working together towards the same goal, they can make sure that the festivals meet the interest of the visitors and they can provide an unforgettable experience.