A well-managed ethno-tourist business can be a rich source of benefits for all. Evaluate this claim from the perspectives of visitors, tribal communities, and tour companies. Consider at least two of the following areas: health, economies, culture, society and politics.
As the tourism industry is becoming more dynamic and competitive, tourism operators are forced to become more innovative and creative to deliver special value proposition to the marketplace. For this, we can witness a lot of new types of tourism emerge in the recent years. One of the famous one is eco-tourism. However, as people and businesses are becoming more socially responsible, there are arguments demanding that tourism should not only protects the environment, but should also deliver benefits to those indigenous people (if they are involve in the tourism process). Such an idea is giving rise to ethnotourism, or also popularly referred to as the community-based eco-tourism (Kontogeorgopoulos, 2005). In this context, it is also argued that well-managed ethnotourism initiatives can bring a lot of benefits to the travelers, tour operators as well as the tribal communities. In this assignment, such a claim will be evaluated.
Firstly, the validity of the claim will be evaluated from the health impacts towards people involved in the ethnotourism activities. Then, the economic impacts of ethnotourism activities will also be considered. Lastly, the cultural impacts will be discussed. By discussing the impacts of ethnotourism activities from these three perspectives, it will enable readers to build up a comprehensive view on the many impacts due to ethnotourism activities in the business environment today.
One of the most serious critiques of ethnotourism activities is that such activities tend to harm the health of the indigenous people, which are largely not being protected from the various diseases brought to them from the outsiders (Akpabio et. al., 2008). This is not hard to understand. Those tribal groups or communities are largely not being vaccinated, and are not immune to the many types of dieses in the modern society.
However, such a situation is largely the negative effects due to negligence from the governmental bodies or the tour operators. To provide sufficient care and medicine to these people are necessary, if a particularly place must be developed as a hot-spot for ethnotourism activities. For example, at least small clinic of hospital can be built, and the necessary precaution to ensure the health of the tribal communities should be in place and carried out.
In fact, it will be argued here that the emergence of ethnotourism related businesses should not bring health issues to the tribal communities. In contrast, with proper planning and efforts, the health level of the tribal communities should be enhanced. For example, through the development of hospitals, the provision of clean water, better food, the delivery of health and hygiene related education to the tribal communities, they can enjoy better health as those modern people are enjoying nowadays.
The economic impacts or benefits of tourism activities are largely documented by many researchers. It is very easy to find evidences that tourism activities able to enhance the economic well being of people involve in the tourism activities, be it the tour operators or the tribal communities. Some literatures related to how tourism activities can bring economic growth to a certain place are available. Among them include: Ivanov & Wenster (2007); Buccellato et. al. (2010); and Wilson (2008). Generally, it is widely acknowledged that tourism activates can bring economic benefits to a society, and that should be the case for the ethnotourism activities.
In this context, the key benefits from ethnotourism activities are that it can increase the income level for the tour operators as well as the tribal communities. When more income is derived from the ethnotourism activities, economic growth in the tourism spot is possible. Besides, as the ethnotourism activities expand, jobs can be created, and the people in the tourism hot spot can be gain certain employment benefits (Wilson, 2008). The tribal communities can choose to adopt an easier way to earn their income, and move up the value chain, and thus, enjoy better living standards. Apart from that, as the ethnotourism activities become more important in certain areas, infrastructure will be built. According to Pacaud, Vollet & Angeon (2007), there are many multipliers effects from the development of infrastructure and facilities to a certain under-developed places. For example, people can get access to water, electricity, necessary health care, educational system, better job prospects, and of course, better living standards. All these are simply something not possible, if the tribal communities are not being discovered and participated in the development of ethnotourism activities. The tribal communities may still be living poorly, hunting for food, and suffer from various health issues, without access to clean water. Economically speaking, the development of ethnotourism activities will enhance the tribal communities well being from many ways.
Apart from that, development of ethnotourism activities will deliver many benefits to the tour operators. By providing ethnotourism related services to the passionate travelers, the tour operators can increase the company revenue, which is so important to the profitability of the firm. Besides, as businesses grow, the company can advance and become more well-known or reputable in the tourism industry. Overall, it cannot be denied that ethnotourism initiatives will definitely positively contributing to the financial and economic well being of the many tour operators.
Although it is widely acknowledged that tourism activities can bring significant economic benefits to the tour operators as well as the tribal communities, researchers are also arguing that there are many negative impacts of ethnotourism in towards other dimensions. In a study conducted by Tsundoda & Mendlinger (2009), the traditional and normal tourism activities bring more benefits from the economic point of view, but less to the non-economical factors. Thus, in the following section, the impacts of ethnotourism initiatives towards the societal and cultural impacts will be discussed.
A review of the previous literature indicates that a very common argument against the development of ethnotourism activities is that the unique culture, lifestyle and language of the tribal communities may be destroyed or destructed. For example, a research carried out by Agba et. al., (2010) suggested in the interaction process between tribal communities and the tourists or travelers, cultural diffusion is often one-sided, and often favor the incursion of foreign culture. Besides, Sandmeyer (2006) also argued that there are worrying trends that the original cultures of the tribal groups are not preserved, and a lot of traditions are lost after certain period of keeping contact with the outsiders. Apparently, researchers seem do not perceive that the development of ethnotourism activities can be truly beneficial to people involved. At best, it is argued by Akpabio, Eniang & Egwali (2008) that the social impacts of ethnotourism are mixed.
From the above perspective, it is admitted that ethnotourism may affect the culture or behaviors of the tribal communities, no matter how well the ethnotourism initiatives are planned. People will simply learn and adopt new practices. However, it will be argued that the pros from developing ethnotourism activities out-weight the cons. Firstly; the development of ethnotourism activities will reduce the pollution and harmful effects towards the environment if it is well planned. A well design ethnotourism activities will produce least pollution to the environment, and can only replace the traditional tourism activities that will produce more waste that harm the environment. Indeed, ethnotourism activities are considered as a form of green tourism and industry. Secondly, from the tribal communities’ perspectives, the adoption of foreign culture may not be necessary bad for them. For example, they can learn new lifestyle, enjoy better standard of living, having access to better educational system, enjoying the benefits offered by the modern society, and expand their exposure and experiences in the outer world. After all, after the tribal communities interact with the outsiders, they can determine their fate, and give the choice to stay back in the communities, or adopt new values or culture for a different lifestyle. Enabling them to have access to better healthcare and educational system will surely benefit them as they become more integrated with the society.
From the tourists’ perspectives, there are also many benefits to be gained. The many travelers can learn more about the culture of others, to experience the living habits and to gain a sense of appreciation, gratitude from their visit to these areas. By having to keep in touch with different people from different culture, the travelers can also expand their perspectives, and be more tolerant in accepting the different values, assumptions and beliefs of the tribal communities.
In short, there are both pros and cons from developing ethnotourism activities. However, in order to improve, something should be sacrifice. It is very rare and very hard to be able to reap all benefits from both sides. The most common tradeoff perhaps is about the improvement of economic growth and advancement versus the degradation of cultural issues among the tribal communities. Nonetheless, as argued above, if the ethnotourism initiatives are well-planned, many of the drawbacks can be mitigated. After all, the adoption of new culture and modern living lifestyle by the many tribal groups or communities is not necessary something disastrous, negative or bad.
Apart from that, before ending this essay, it is also important to comment that the question if advantages can be derived from ethnotourism activities will be largely dependent on the ability of the tour operators, governmental bodies, travelers and tourist to perform their duties and responsibilities properly. According to Kontogeorgopoulos (2005), Success stories remain rare, as to implement a truly effective and successful ethnotourism activities are difficult. Thus, care should be taken to avoid or mitigate the potential threats towards tribal communities at the best effort basis. Only when the society as a whole work together in a responsible and prudent manner, the many advantages of ethnotourism activities can be equally enjoyed by the various parties involved – tourists, tour operators as well as the tribal communities.
Agba, A. M. O., Ikoh, M. U., Bassey, A. O., & Ushie, E. M. (2010). Tourism industry impact on Efik’s culture, Nigeria. International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, 4(4), 355-365.
Akpabio, I., Eniang, E., & Egwali, E. (2008). Socio-economic potentials and environmental implications of coastal tourism at Adiabo, Cross River State, Nigeria. Environment, Development and Sustainability, 10(3), 249-265.
Buccellato, T., Webber, D., White, S., Ritchie, F., & Begum, S. (2010). The economic impact of tourism across regions and nations of the UK. Economic & Labour Market Review, 4(5), 44-50.
Ivanov, S., & Webster, C. (2007). Measuring the impact of tourism on economic growth. Tourism Economics, 13(3), 1.
Kontogeorgopoulos, N. (2005). Community-Based Ecotourism in Phuket and Ao Phangnga, Thailand: Partial Victories and Bittersweet Remedies. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 13(1), 4-23.
Mitchell, R. E. G. (1998). Community integration in ecotourism: A comparative case study of two communities in Peru. M.Sc. dissertation, University of Guelph (Canada), Canada.
Pacaud, L., Vollet, D., & Angeon, V. (2007). Impact of tourism infrastructure on regional development: the implantation of a Center Parcs resort in northern France. Tourism Economics, 13(3), 2.
Sandmeyer, A. E. (2006). Community-based ecotourism and sustainable community development: Exploring the relationship. M.A. dissertation, Dalhousie University (Canada), Canada.
Tsundoda, T., & Mendlinger, S. (2009). Economic and Social Impact of Tourism on a Small Town: Peterborough New Hampshire. Journal of Service Science and Management, 2(2), 61-70.
Wilson, T. (2008). Economic and Social Impacts of Tourism in Mexico. Latin American Perspectives, 35(3), 37.