Tourism at the Age of Globalization essay

We live in the age of globalization. The growth of interaction between nations and countries and creating of one economical space gives more and more reasons to talk about the growing temps of globalization. Nowadays it is a phenomenon nobody can escape. Globalization influences all parts of our social, cultural and political life. Tourism has become one of the first objects influenced by it.

Generally, under globalization we understand economic integration and liberalization, deregulation of trade, development of macroeconomics, changes in the understanding of functions and role of state and integration of globalization of information systems (Watson, 2002). It has so many shades of meaning and is used in so many fields that it becomes sometimes difficult to give its direct interpretation. All factors mentioned above can have both ”“ positive and negative influences on different states.

Those who support extremely negative view on globalization state that it leads to inequality, poverty and increased threat to the environment. Those who support opposing view and see globalization from the optimistic perspective name positive effects, such as rapid development and reformation of stagnant areas, increase of environmental awareness and new opportunities for integration in problem solving.

Nowadays all the developed and developing countries try to gain more space and open their own markets on the world arena one of the easiest ways to do it is to develop tourism. It goes without saying that the United States is the leading country on the world market and it produces a lot of American goods which are of great advantage on the international market. Economic growth of the USA greatly depends on its exports because exports make one-quarter of the economy. “From 1970 to 2000, our exports have grown over 10 percent per year ”” reaching $1.1 trillion in 2000 ”” that’s a doubling of U.S. exports about every 7 years” (Wolf, 2002, p.115).

Approximately 12 million American jobs are connected with export and depend on it and people who work in this sphere get wages 13 to 19 percent higher than those who work in the national sphere (Wolf, 2002, p.115).

Nowadays tourism is characterized as one the sectors of the economy, which has the fastest rates of growing.

Developing countries do their best to attract thousands of tourists in order to attract foreign investments. Tourism being a part of the globalization process goes out of the governmental control of the particular countries and the government has to take some measures in order to control this phenomenon.

The experience of recent years shows that tourism is moving in the “western” direction, not taking into account peculiarities of this or that country. The main principle of globalization “Think Globally, Act Locally” is not interpreted in a proper way. Tourism in most countries has become a financial background for the official agencies and their main and only purpose is to get profit and get more and more money. Travel agencies do not worry much about environmental issues and local communities’ rights.

Such international organizations and agencies, as the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), United Nations agencies and others, are promoting tourism as a global industry and developing countries think that it can really bring profit. Nevertheless, “unequal trading relationships, dependence on foreign interests,  and the division of labour have relegated poor countries in the South to becoming tourism recipients and affluent countries in the North to the position of tourism  generators, with the latter enjoying the freedom from having to pay the price for the meanwhile well-known negative impacts in destinations” (Watson, 2002, p.115).

Being a global phenomenon, tourism has a great influence on major world destinations. What is strange, in some countries it has brought a lot of harm to the local economy and has destroyed traditions and customs, which have mixed with other cultures, while in others countries tourism bring a lot profit and help to protect areas with environmental problems (Coccossis, 1996). This phenomenon can be explained by the governmental policy.

Hall (1998) emphasized that tourism implementation in any country must be followed by the particular strategies, which should take into consideration global and local requirements, and have guiding framework. “This is necessary as it is often too late to reverse or redirect unwanted development once it has become established in a destination and these destinations will always suffer from environmental and social problems that are both detrimental to tourists and residents” (Gunn, 1994, p. 28).

Different governments use different planning approaches to make the tourism sector more profitable but at the same time to reserve environment, culture and local communities. The main goal of the planning approach is to meet the demands of the changing international infrastructure and the increase of visitors. Due to the rapid process of globalization we can define out a number of approaches towards the tourism sphere.

The first approach presumes the building of new hotels, improving the state of roads and promoting tourism. This planning approach is greatly criticized because it takes into account aspects, which are directly connected with tourism industry, not caring about impacts on the destination (Getz, 1986).

The second approach is usually called the land use approach. This approach was also aimed on getting profit. Same as the first one it does not care about negative consequences of tourism or tries to hide them. The project surveyed economic and physical resources of the country leaving project on environment without attention (baud-Bovy, 1982; Murphy, 1985).

The global conservation movement in the 60s of the 20th century resulted in a new planning approach ”“ the environmental one. It happened because negative impact of tourism had been already seen and countries’ governments started to worry about further consequences. “During this period attention moved away from a narrow economic and physical planning focus and began to address environmental concerns” (Krippendorf, 1982, p. 145).

The community approach also came to the realisation that tourism is destructive for the country’s environment and culture without special social projects and guidelines. It made an accent on the development in the community. (Hall, 1998).

Concerns about environmental issues have pushed governments of the countries to the new implementation of a new approach to tourist sphere. The sustainable approach means to “meet the goals of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED, 1986, p.43). World Commission on Environment and Development recognized this approach only in 1987 and it is usually treated as the only possible approach which is aimed to overcome ecological difficulties and problems. Tourism is based on the people’s heritage and natural resources and that is why the sustainable approach proposes ways to reserve these resources without destruction of nature (Cooper, 1995, p. 98). The appearance of this approach can be explained by two factors: tourism has become a multiple industry, which attracts people from different spheres, and so it requires long and strategic planning. “The achievement of sustainable development objectives hinges on the adoption of a participatory model, involving the meaningful engagement of the community, along with industry stakeholders and relevant government agencies, which in turn will lead to agreement on planning directions and goals” (Faulkner, 2003, p. 154).

These factors make governmental authorities take into account local communities’ interests because they can directly influence tourist sector. The next step of tourism is the usage of the strategic planning. Strategy can be applied for tourist sector and then it will require such basic objectives: maximum profit in social, economic and environmental spheres; advanced profit for tourists from different countries and reservation of tourism resources (Hall, 2000). “Under the

sustainable, strategic approach, tourism planning is proactive, adopts a long-term planning horizon, is responsive to community needs, and perceives planning and implementation as part of a single process that is ongoing” (Hall, 2000, p. 112).

The sustainable approach to tourism is being adapted by governments almost in all countries where tourism wants to meet international requirements. On the other hand, a lot of scientists (Simpson, 2001; Hall, 2000) point out that this approach is not applied according to its theoretical basement. Of course, tourism destinations are adopting sustainable approach but not in its initial form. It depends on destination managers, planners and operators who choose the direction for the destination they are responsible for.

Being one of the most competitive industries in the world, tourist is very sensitive to the changes in the world political and economical scene. That is the reason it reacts to the globalization so fast. The debate on tourism principles and aims is a controversial issue because it presents the confrontation of interests of very influential figures.

Transitional corporation has become one of the distinctive feature of modern tourism recently. These transitional corporations (TNCs) create much pressure on the government all over the world during the recent years. These corporations are very likely to benefit from the General Agreement of Trade and Services. This agreement should be implemented under the initiative of the World Trade Organization. These agreements will cancel restrictions on the foreign ownership in the tourism sector. These actions will abolish almost all restrictions, which protect individual countries. As soon as these changes will be implemented, foreign tourist companies will have same rights as the local ones. In addition, they will be able to move people and equipment though the borders and open branch offices worldwide. They will also get an ability to make international payments without any restrictions. Positive side of such changes will be the increase of profits from the tourism industry.

From the first sight globalization brings much profit to the economy of the countries, bringing stable and big income. Negative consequences are not so vivid but they can bring a lot of harm to the economy and environment of the states. Asian region, which makes one of the tourist centres in the world, also expresses worries about the impact of globalization on the individual countries. Cancellation of the limitations one the privatization in some Asian countries have caused serious worries of the authorities and ordinary people. Imtiaz Muqbil, a tourist analyst from Bangkok states that: “The independence of thousands of small and medium size enterprises, including hotels and tour operators, is at risk. This is because most local enterprises will hardly be able to compete with foreign companies” (Merg, 2006 p. 109). After careful analyses of all pro and contra, Muqbil and some other analysts came to the conclusion that even economical profit, which developing countries get from the tourist industry and globalization, is doubtful. As Imtiaz Muqbil states: “The radical restructuring of travel and tourism”¦ could strike at the heart of national economies.  It is already a well-established fact that in some developing countries, more than two-thirds of the revenue from international tourism never reaches the local economy because of the high foreign exchange leakages” (Gunn, 1994, p. 13). New policies of free trade and investment make the situation even worse and local governments have even less opportunities to influence the situation. Foreign companies possess unlimited financial opportunities and lack of limitations makes their influence stronger and stronger. All these facts prove that so loudly advertised wealth, progress and other positive effects of globalization and liberalization for the developing countries should be put under question.

A research, made by the UN Conference on Trade and Development assumes that Asia-Pacific countries should spend more time studying all possible consequence of the opening their markets. The authors of the document advised them to make more rigid demands in response to the demand to open their markets (Hall, 1994, p. 98).

Despite these recommendations are up to date and very useful Asian countries are not very likely to follow them.

Economic crises and poor financial situation of the local tourist companies make it almost impossible for them to ask for better conditions of negotiations. There is an opinion that it became the development of tourism in Asia, which greatly contributed to the great crises Asian countries face now. “In Asia, social and environmental activists argue that the inflationary tourism policies in the context of globalisation have greatly contributed to the present economic crisis.” (Cooper, 1995, p. 195)

In addition to harm to the economy of the developing countries globalization has also negative impact on the political power of these countries. Critics of the globalization state that growing temps of globalization will finally lead to the erosion of the governmental power. “Opponents argue that local and national institutions will no longer be able to properly fulfil their responsibilities such as providing social services, preserving the environment, and implementing sustainable development programmes” (Merg, 2006, p. 110).

Damage to ecology and environment is another serious problem caused by the development of globalization in tourist industry. Different international agreements, which prolong globalization, show little if any concern regarding the environmental issues. The WTO has proposed to implement so called “environmental standards” and eco-labels”. These standards have not been implemented yet. There is a problem with such an approach. Those countries, which will not be able to correspond to high environmental standards, will not be able to compete inside the tourist industry. There is another approach to the issue. Big companies try to prove that environmental issues should be left of the consideration of each separate country. It is evident that under such conditions developing countries will experience big environmental problems. Both approaches have counterparts and there is no one definite approach towards environmental issues yet.

Recently the UN Assembly has implemented a resolution on “Sustainable Tourism”. The main point of the resolution underlines the importance of the development of tourism. This resolution underlines that ”For sustainable patterns of consumption and production in the tourism sector, it is essential to strengthen national policy development and enhance capacity in the areas of physical planning, impact assessment, and the use of economic and regulatory instruments, as well as in the areas of information, education and marketing” (Merg , 2006 p.111). Same resolution calls all interested parties to join their forces in the development of successful and profitable for everybody tourism programmes. The resolution on “Sustainable Tourism” shapes out further perspective of the development of tourism industry. It stresses on the necessity of the democratic regulation of this industry. Such an approach contradicts to real actions of the UN, which are characterized by strong lobbying of globalization and tendency of industrial and economical regulation.

To sum up, today we can not definitely state the tourism sphere in the era of globalization is controlled by the governmental authorities. Globalization is a controversial phenomenon and it has its positive and negative consequences on different spheres and tourism in particular. On the one hand it gives great perspectives for the development of the international tourism, but on the other hand it can lead to serious environmental problems especially in the developing countries because making an accent on the financial profit they are not able to overcome ecological problems. In addition globalisation of tourism weakens governments of the developing states. Mega corporations start influencing state economy and even politics in the states where globalization of tourism went out of control.

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