Tourism takes place in the environment, which is made up of both human and natural features. The human environment comprises economic, social and cultural factors and processes. The natural environment is made up of plants and animals in their habitat. It is possible to make a distinction between the human environment and the natural environment and this is particularly useful when discussing the impacts of tourism. However, it is important to note that, in a real setting, the human environment and the natural environment are interwoven and human activity is both affected by and has effects on the natural environment.
The main tourist destinations and generators of the world in terms of visitor numbers and income generation
International travel, prior to the 1960s, was still largely the preserve of a wealthy minority who had the time as well as money to afford long distance sea or air travel. Major changes in the second half of the twentieth century led to the rapid and massive growth of the phenomenon known as modern tourism. For example, these changes contributed to the Pacific Region/South East Asia becoming the fastest growing area for international tourism in the last 30 years. In 1975, South East Asia and the Pacific Region accounted for only 4 per cent of international tourist arrivals, but by 1995 the share of world arrivals had increased to almost 15 per cent (Pearce, 1995) and by 2006 to 20 per cent (WTO, 2007). It should be noted that this change has occurred at a time when tourist numbers were growing globally.
Determination of tourism destination trends and future trends
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Not only have people's motivations and expectations of holidays changed, but geography plays a major part. Where tourism experiences can be obtained is itself subject to variations in demand and, hence, supply. For instance, in the 1970s it was not sufficient just to get a suntan, but where one got it was vital (Prosser, 1994). In the early 1960s, in Britain getting a suntan in Brighton or Blackpool was sufficient, by the early 1970s to achieve the desired status the tan had to be brought back to Britain from Benidorm and by the 1980s it had to have been obtained in Belize. In Australia, Bondi Beach would have been good enough for most sun-seekers in the 1970s, but, by the 1980s, to really enhance one's status it was necessary to get the tan in Bali! However, reference to Bali emphasizes the unpredictability of tourism.
Visitor numbers and receipts of tourism destinations
The increase in the share of international tourist arrivals in the Pacific Region therefore indicates a very significant increase in actual tourists between 1975 and 2006. There were approximately 78 million visitor arrivals in the Pacific Region/South East Asia in 1995 (Pearce, 1995). This compares with approximately 100 million in the combined area of North and South America and 305 million in Europe in 1995 (Pearce, 1995). With approximately 55 per cent of international arrivals Europe remained, in the early part of twenty-first century, the single most important region for international travel arrivals (WTO, 2007). In fact, Europe had five countries in the top ten tourism destinations in 2006. France, Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany, with France and Spain's combined totals accounting for 14 per cent of total international arrivals (WTO, 2007).
Demonstration of creative thinking for tourism
In the last 15 years or so of the twentieth century, changing attitudes also contributed to a re-evaluation of the nature of the tourist experience. Accompanying the growing realization that tourism takes place in finite geographical space, was the notion that it consumes environmental resources (McKercher, 1993). Increasingly, tourists became concerned about the effects their activities were having on the environment (Fennell, 1999). This led to the growth of what some consider as more environment friendly forms of tourism, such as ecotourism (Wearing and Neil, 1999). Additionally, some tourists sought experiences that would give them more contact with the population in the destination region and potentially contribute more to the local economy.
2.1. Cultural, social and physical features of tourist destinations
It has indicated that although tourism impacts tend to be multi-faceted, it is conventional to subdivide them under the following headings: economic, socio-cultural and environmental. It is also conventional to present tourism impacts as either positive or negative. This assignment has indicated that such categorization depends upon the value position of the observer. As impacts tend to be multi-faceted, often having a combination of economic, social and environmental dimensions, it may be not that straightforward to classify impacts at one particular tourism destination under the heading of either solely 'positive' or 'negative'. It is quite likely that there is a combination of impacts of tourism in relation to a destination and some of these impacts may be viewed as positive, while others are seen as negative. All factors discussed there are important in relation to socio-cultural impacts. Clearly, a key influence is 'who is involved' and the 'activities engaged in' will be significant. Of particular importance, in relation to socio-cultural impacts of tourism, is the nature of both visitors and host populations.
2.2. Comparison of the features of top contrasting tourist destinations
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In addition to this data, is the projection that jobs in tourism are likely to increase steadily during the early part of this century, unlike jobs in other economic sectors. These macro-level figures however hide the unbalanced nature of global tourism. One continent alone, South East Asia, was the single most important tourist destination with over half of all international visitor arrivals in the early part of the twenty-first century and most international arrivals of tourists in Asia were visits from the European countries.
2.3. Comparison and contrast between the features of one developing and one leading tourist destination
However, the public sector in many developed countries has what may appear at face value to be contradictory roles. Governments may not only attempt to regulate tourism, but they also have a role in marketing tourism (Mason and Mowforth, 1995; Seaton and Bennett, 1996). Marketing is usually associated with promoting tourism, hence not controlling or regulating it. However, there are examples when marketing is used as a controlling measure. Such an example is that employed by the government agency, English Heritage and the NGO and the National Trust of England. These organizations work together in the marketing and management of two prehistoric sites in England. Stonehenge is the most visited prehistoric stone circle site in the United Kingdom
2.4. Identification of cultural, social and physical features
One of the more significant socio-cultural impacts of tourism is referred to as the 'demonstration' effect. This depends on there being visible differences between tourists and hosts. Such a situation arises in many developing countries. In the demonstration effect, it is theorized, that simply observing to action adopted by an agency, such as a government body. Public policy is, therefore, what governments decide to do or not to do (Dye, 1992). However, it is important to note that planning is not just a process conducted by government. Private sector organizations, (in tourism this would include, for example tour operators and airlines), prepare careful plans and usually have a number of policies through which they operation these plans.
3.1. Evaluation of the appeal of a current leading tourist destination
Some of the more beneficial impacts of tourism on society include the following: the creation of employment; the revitalization of poor or non-industrialized regions; the rebirth of local arts and crafts and traditional cultural activities; the revival of social and cultural life of the local population; the renewal of local architectural traditions; and the promotion of the need to conserve areas of outstanding beauty which have aesthetic and cultural value (Mason, 1995). In developing countries in particular, tourism can encourage greater social mobility through changes in employment from traditional agriculture to service industries and may result in higher wages and better job prospects.
3.2. The effect of the characteristics of a tourist destination
It is clear that the resources for tourism, particularly the natural and semi-natural environmental features, but also man-made components of the environment that have become attractions, are actually finite. This has led to calls to make these resources in particular, but also the field of tourism generally, more sustainable. With reference to specific destinations, a complete halt to tourism development may be considered desirable by some members of the community, and in a number of cases this may be a majority view, but it is unlikely that tourism growth will be stopped..
3.3. Evaluation and justification for the current leading and developing tourist destinations
The fact that tourism impacts are multi-faceted contributes to them being difficult to plan for and manage. There are a number of different organizations, groups and individuals that have an important role to play in tourism planning and management. These key players, in the form of tourists, host community members, industry members, government representatives, and to a lesser extent the media and voluntary organizations, are involved in the day-to-day problems of tourism. In most democratic countries, at least, these individuals, groups and organizations are in a position to play an active part in tourism planning and management.
4.1. The issues that affect the popularity of tourist destinations
The future of tourism in Bali is far from clear after the terrorist bombings at Kuta in October 2002 and the second bombings in almost the same area in October 2005. Bali has become heavily dependent on tourism and what happens after these events may indicate whether the island, in the longer term has become economically over-dependent on tourism.
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Similar issues to those of Bali in its early stages of tourism development can be found in the Himalayan country, Nepal. As in Bali, tourism was relatively unimportant until the second half of the twentieth century, but more recently has come to be very significant to the economy of Nepal. Nepal, the fourth poorest country in the world, is a landlocked Himalayan kingdom relying on access to imports via India. Throughout the period of European global exploration, dating from about 1400 until as recently as the 1950s, Nepal was almost inaccessible and hence it holds attractions for significant numbers of potential tourists. Tourism began in the early 1960s but took off in the 1970s.
4.2. The potential for responsible tourism to enhance the host community at worldwide tourist destinations
International visitors generally demand easy access to facilities, and these need to be of a relatively high standard, particularly toilets and washing facilities. International visitors also demand good signage, clear notice boards, good maps and sufficiently well-serviced campsites. International visitor numbers are likely to increase significantly in the next 10-15 years, while domestic visitors will remain almost constant. Hence the pressure will be to improve and increase facilities for the international visitor, but this is likely to be opposed by domestic visitors.
4.3. Methods to control issues affecting popularity of tourist destination
Visitor management has been used by a number of different agencies and organizations, at different scales and in a variety of locations. In some countries, it has become a major tool in an attempting to control visitor flows. In the United Kingdom, for example, a government task force produced a tourism report that had visitor management as a key strategy. This report, maintaining the Balance, from the UK Ministry of Environment/Department of Employment and published in 1991, focused on the relationship between the environment and the visitor and suggested that there are three main ways of managing visitors. These are as follows:
controlling the number of visitors either by limiting numbers to match capacity, or spreading the number throughout the year, rather than having them concentrated in time in a focused 'tourist season';
modifying visitor behavior;
Adapting the resource in ways to enable it to cope with the volume of visitors, and hence become less damaged.
In relation to the first of these three methods, that of controlling the numbers of visitors, the report suggested that the initial task is to determine the carrying capacity.
4.4. Managing and organizing activities to enhance potential for responsible tourism
Managing visitors is one of the important ways of managing the impacts of tourism, particularly impacts on the environment, but in addition managing socio-cultural and economic impacts. Visitor management has been viewed in the past 25 years or so as a significant way to attempt to reduce the negative impacts of tourism. Often, this has been through attempts to divert tourists from areas with large volumes of tourists, the so-called 'honey pots'. Another approach has been to minimize the negative impacts at popular site by 'hardening' (e.g. resurfacing paths and footpaths), or by schemes such as 'park and ride' which keep cars out of the immediate environment of a popular attraction.
Impacts in terms of visitor numbers were geographically patchy, as Southeast Asia and urban areas appear to have been far less affected during the summer of 2001 than rural areas, and may even have benefited from the restrictions on access to rural areas. The government made reassuring promises that it would not close down the countryside and therefore negatively affect leisure and tourism pursuits.