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Why is tourism seen as an important means of economic development in many less economically developed countries? To what extent are the benefits of tourism for these countries, outweighed by the costs?

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Introduction

Why is tourism seen as an important means of economic development in many less economically developed countries? To what extent are the benefits of tourism for these countries, outweighed by the costs? Tourism is often seen by the leaders of economically less developed countries as one of the best ways to promote economic development. This view is taken due to broadly five benefits tourism brings with it: infrastructure; employment; foreign exchange; investment; and the fostering of connections with the West. The extent to which the benefits outweigh the costs varies markedly from area to area, making generalization difficult. However, it can be seen that in most destinations, whilst there have been a number of problems, on balance, tourism has been a force for good. Tourism often necessitates the building or upgrading of infrastructure, in order to provide basic amenities for tourists. Many LEDCs (less economically developed countries) suffer from a lack of sanitation, electricity, fresh water, and good communications links. However, in order to attract tourists, all these services must be provided. ...read more.

Middle

Not only does it create stable, formal, service jobs in restaurants and hotels, but also large numbers of informal jobs. For example, in countries like Zimbabwe, there are many markets and street vendors, selling merchandise to tourists, and in the National Parks of Kenya, the Maasai perform in front of tourists. All these seemingly minor activities provide a fairly stable wage to many people. Through the provision of both formal and informal jobs, tourism boosts the average purchasing power of ordinary people. With greater disposable income, greater consumption follows, thereby leading to the creation of local companies to cater for this demand. Tourism also creates a stream of investment into an LEDC. In order to cater for tourists, capital is transferred into these countries to pay for the building of hotels, bars, and other facilities. Whilst most of the skilled jobs are taken by foreigners, the provision of raw materials such as cement, is often locally sourced. Furthermore, the construction work itself can often be done by local workers. ...read more.

Conclusion

Socially, tourism can also damage. Many are unhappy at the cultural vandalism of traditional cultures - Hawaii in particular has had its distinct culture reduced by worthless stereotypes. In addition, Western tourists often bring with them cultural differences and insensitivities that offend individuals - Kenya has recently produced a guide advising tourists on dress code. Environmentally, mass tourism can also damage the environment. In National Parks, such as Kenya, animals are often disturbed, and the fragile savannah environment damaged. Tourists create large amounts of pollution / rubbish that in many LEDCs is not dealt with properly. Insensitivity to fragile environment, such as coral reefs, has often damaged ecosystems inseparably. In conclusion, LEDCs place such an emphasis on tourism in their economic development plans, because it is an excellent source of revenue, employment and foreign exchange. Nevertheless, tourism has had many negative effects on LEDCs, bringing with it environmental destruction, exploitation, and cultural imperialism. However, on balance, tourism is beneficial to a country. It helps 'kick-start' economic growth, and if managed properly and carefully, can actually be a force for good environmentally and socially. ...read more.

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