Tourism is booming worldwide it makes up a massive part of the global economy. Donald G., Reid's book focuses on tourism in developing and less-developed countries. He examines its social and environmental impact and offers a timely critical analysis of the part it plays in globalization.
Many of the world's poorest countries rely on the tourist trade for the major part of their income. However, all too often, the local communities involved do not reap the benefits of this trade. Developers often exclude local communities from the initial planning and decision-making process, viewing them either as a benign resource to be exploited, or as an impediment.
Reid presents a rigourous critique of corporate-led tourism development and lays out alternatives that would give planning and control to the local communities involved. He argues that only in this way can the vastly differing requirements of each community be addressed, and social and environmental issues can be dealt with properly. The book includes a discussion of macro planning theory, and offers three case studies of locally controlled projects that show clearly how communities developing a tourist trade can benefit from it.
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About the Author
Donald G. Reid is professor and former Director of the School of Rural Planning and Development, Faculty of Environmental Design and Development, University of Guelph, Canada.
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TOURISM AND DEVELOPMENT
Tourism is a dynamic force homogenizing societies and commodifying cultures across the globe. It is promoted as a positive means of economic development for the many countries and communities who have lost their traditional industries, or for those who simply hope to improve their general economic condition. Historically, however, tourism has not been a positive experience for all parties engaged in the development process, or treated all stakeholders in the enterprise equally. While trans-national corporations and entrepreneurs benefit greatly from tourism development, local people often bear the cost of that development without adequate reward. In an attempt to expose these inadequacies and subsequently set out a different course, this book provides a critique of the tourism development process as it has developed historically. This critique is followed by a practical guide to the future development of the industry. It stresses the role of community as the foundation on which tourism development must be constructed if it is to achieve the results proponents suggest are important to society. Tourism is analyzed here from the point of view of holistic development, and the constraints placed on its sustainability by corporate globalization are examined.
After the dramatic attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that 'those responsible will be brought to justice, or justice will be brought to them'. At first blush this may seem to most US citizens like an appropriate response – particularly to those personally affected by the disaster, and their allies across the globe. However, it is recognized by many that this attitude will not deal with the root causes of the problem that provoked the incident in the first place, nor with what has been described as the worldwide rise of terrorism. Some scholars, including McMurtry (1999), argue that these types of event are incubated by what he calls the 'cancer stage of capitalism', and by the rise of trans-national corporate hegemony, leaving a single superpower dominating the world. Democracy is viewed from many parts of the world as skewed in favor of the rich and powerful. In his book Jihad vs McWorld: Terrorism's Challenge to Democracy, Benjamin Barber wrote:
If democracy is to be the instrument by which the world avoids the stark choice between a sterile cultural monism (McWorld) and a raging cultural fundamentalism (Jihad), neither of which services diversity or civic liberty, then America, Britain, and their allies will have to open a crucial second civic and democratic front aimed not against terrorism per se but against the anarchism and social chaos – the economic reductionism and its commercializing homogeneity – that have created the climate of despair and hopelessness that terrorism has so effectively exploited. A second democratic front will be advanced not only in the name of retributive justice and secularist interests, but in the name of distributive justice ...
(Barber, 1995: xiii)
This book is about the achievement of distributive justice through the development of tourism. However, at present tourism is a major force in the organization of 'McWorld', both symbolically and practically. It is a worldwide phenomenon dominated by transnational corporations, which both exports the culture of the West to developing countries, and – perhaps more importantly – drains the developing world of its resources, including capital. Tourism is a product of the hegemony of the West, and demonstrates both the rising difference in the conditions of material subsistence between wealthy and poor nations, and the growing Third World conditions found in many parts of the wealthy nations themselves. It is often the poorest people living in these already underprivileged circumstances who provide labor to the tourism industry across the globe. Employment in tourism provides a meager living to its workers, rarely allowing them to lift themselves beyond conditions of social marginalization and poverty. For distributive justice to be achieved, tourism will have to develop a new approach in both its planning and development processes, producing a project that would look very different to the one prevailing at present.
This book provides a critique of the principles on which tourism is structured at present, and presents an alternative prescription for tourism development, designed to address more directly the goal of distributive justice. The priorities of community planning and control are given greater importance in this new design, as opposed to the prerogatives of the trans-national corporation.
Economic globalization affects all countries and continents. Corporate globalization has been legitimized by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the supposed triumph of capitalism over socialism. Without a global counter-force, capital enjoys free rein to exploit labor and other resources in all corners of the globe. This exploitation is supported by the mantra of development, supposedly for the benefit of those who are left behind by the economic advances and increased standard of living created in the industrialized world. Tourism is advanced by businesses and governments alike as a development mechanism which can lift people out of poverty and make them equal partners in society. But regardless of how altruistic this claim may sound, it is doubtful whether those who are intended to benefit – at least according to the rhetoric – have gained nearly as much as those promoting tourism through corporate globalization. While no one can condone the carnage of the events of September 11, they must be viewed as a rejection of corporate globalization and the exploitation taking place across the globe, and not simply as the actions of a few deranged individuals, as some would have us believe. As Barber suggests, referring to public attitudes towards these events throughout the developing world, 'their quarrel is not with modernity but with the aggressive neo-liberal ideology that has been prosecuted in its name in pursuit of global market society more conducive to profits for some than to justice for all'. (Barber, 1995: xv)
The tourism sector is tied closely to the globalizing force which pursues profits over justice. In fact, tourism is one of the main products being globalized, while some even argue that it is one of the main forces driving globalization (Brown, 1998; George, 2002). While globalization is made possible by the drive of capitalism to expand and grow, and by the development and pervasiveness of new technologies, tourism is one of the important beneficiaries and vehicles of its expression. New technologies such as the internet and air travel have revolutionized the tourism industry; tourists are now able to travel almost anywhere in the world. Increased leisure time, combined with burgeoning disposable income for some, enables large numbers of people, especially from the developed world, to become dedicated worldwide travelers. The developed countries not only export travelers, but have also cultivated domestic tourism, providing interesting destinations within easy reach. In some cases this allows rural communities to survive after their primary industries have failed, and adds a new cultural dynamic to urban living. But these new conditions transform the social realm, moving life away from the imperatives of the manufacturing and extractive industries which provided the backbone of the industrial economy.
No matter how enticing the promise of tourism development may at first seem, all over the world – and especially in developing countries – tourism is characterized by uneven development, ensuring erratic returns and unequal incomes. This is particularly noticeable at the local level in both developed and less developed countries (LDCs). Local communities often form the front line in terms of service provision, but are last in line when it comes to benefiting from development. Local people are not only excluded from many of the benefits that result from tourism development; they are often neglected in the planning and decision-making process that generates it. The local community is all too often viewed by tourism developers either as a common resource to be exploited, or as an obstacle to be overcome in order to implement development strategies. With the exception of a few enlightened entrepreneurs who understand that it is in their long-term best interest to consider community values, developers almost never do so, unless forced to by the national government in whose jurisdiction their proposed development is targeted. As a result of the explosion of tourism attractions over the last few years, and their highly competitive nature, some entrepreneurs now understand that potential tourism sites are finite, and that the old conception of 'throw-away' tourism destinations no longer provides an appropriate strategy for the industry. 'Sustainability', then, takes on several meanings for the tourism planner: it not only refers to the community and its social and physical environment, but also to the competitiveness and longevity of the tourism enterprise itself. The sustainability of a tourism product must be considered from a holistic perspective, and not just measured in terms of one or only a few indicators.
Individuals living in communities that choose tourism as an economic generator become part of that destination's attraction, whether they want to be or not. What makes a tourism destination attractive in many cases is the unique culture and lifestyle of the people living in the area. In Canada, for example, the practices of many First Nations people or east coast fishers are of interest to visitors from around the world. Their unique way of life has been mythologized over the years, and many visitors are interested in observing it; the cultural practices of traditional societies are often fascinating to the tourist. The traditional life of rural communities is fast being extinguished by urbanization, and often caters to an appetite for the exotic on the part of many city dwellers. But when there are no restrictions on the observation of such societies, unwelcome intrusion often occurs, leaving individuals and communities feeling violated. Some First Nations communities in Canada's far north are viewed by many visitors as artificial constructions, the equivalent of Disney World – put in place simply for the benefit of tourists, rather than as private dwellings and living communities. The line between the observation of a commodity and the invasion of privacy becomes blurred. As a result, visitors have been known to take pictures through the front windows or open doorways of private homes, leaving the owner feeling violated. This negative interaction has been fostered by the dominance of the relationship between the servant and the served, where an emphasis on that between host and guest may have been more beneficial. While at first glance this distinction may appear small, it could in the long term enable some interesting improvements to the tourism system.
These inequities and intrusions are a consequence of commercialism and capitalism being taken to an extreme. McMurtry (1999) has gone as far as to refer to this stage of capitalism as constituting a cancer on the global social system. He argues, quite rightly, that the fundamental laws of the life code of value, which should provide the basis for social development, including universal health care, clean air and potable water, have been abandoned in favor of maximizing profit at all cost. In interpreting McMurtry, Sumner (2002: 147) suggests that 'two master principles of value-gain underlie the long economic war expressed by history. While these codes of value have often been confused, the future of civil and planetary life-organization depends on their distinction, especially given the present period of unregulated globalization'. For McMurtry (1998: 298), life means 'organic movement, sentience and feeling, and thought'. Means of life refers to 'what enables life to be preserved or to extend its vital range of these three planes of being alive'. This includes such entities as clean water, food and shelter in addition to affective interaction, environmental space and accessible learning conditions. I would also want to identify leisure as a human domain which belongs in the life code of value definition.
Contrasted with the life code of value is money code of value where 'money is the beginning and end of the sequence because money, not life' (Sumner 2002: 148), is the 'regulating objective of thought and action' (McMurtry, 1998: 299). Thus, money, according to Sumner, 'is not used for life, but life is used for money. From this code of value, it follows that more money is always better by definition', regardless of what happens to life circumstances in the process. (Summer, 2002: 148)
McMurtry (1999: 17) argues that scholars and social commentators must be open to examining the 'value structure' which has produced such a cancer, and not content themselves with lesser issues. As he puts it:
This is why I have chosen the term 'value programme' as a designator. A value system becomes a programme when its assumed structure of worth rules out all thought of alternative to it as 'nonsense'.
When the Hindu does not think of a reality beyond caste dharma, and when the marketer cannot value beyond market price, we see examples of value programmes at work. A social value program is a jealous God. Consciousness and decision, preference and rejection are imprisoned within it. Whatever is against it is repelled as alien, evil, abnormal. The modalities of role and individuation, personal gratification and avoidance, become elaborations and differentiations of the programme internalized as the self. Lived alternative to the role-master is taboo. In the adolescence of the species, all members of the group see as the group sees. All experience as the group does. All affirm and repudiate as the group does. There is no reality beyond it save the Other.
(McMurtry, 1999: 21)
Tourism is now a major force in the 'cancer stage of capitalism', which, according to McMurtry (1999), now exists throughout society. It is the fastest-growing foreign income earner worldwide, producing huge profits for such companies as Thomas Cook, Club Med, Carnival, Four Seasons, Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, and Canadian Pacific Hotels & Resorts, to name only a few (see Table 2.2 for a detailed financial analysis of these trans-national tourism corporations). As a consequence of its power, tourism must be analyzed in light of the value program that supports its growth and development. Because of its sheer size and power, an examination of tourism must also involve a critique of capitalism, and of the globalizing forces it has created, and which allow it to continue to grow unchecked worldwide.
As a result of the enormous pressure for increasing profits, and for the generation of national revenue to pay down foreign held debt, governments and the businesses that manage tourism destinations focus on the goal of profit maximization at the expense of the environment and social welfare. This exclusive focus on profit commodifies the host culture and devalues the potential interaction between the visitor and the local citizen. From social and environmental points of view, this is evidence of the poor planning and management of tourism destinations. The creation of sustainable tourism destinations requires a shift away from this commercial emphasis towards a locally and regionally based development strategy. This shift would entrust decision-making to those with the most to lose from unsustainable practices, and would necessitate the consideration of a multiplicity of factors in addition to the economic. Moreover, tourism in this context would redefine the experience of leisure from purely casual activity to serious leisure (Stebbins, 1997). This shift in perspective gives social and environmental development an importance at least equal to that of profit and economic growth. To accomplish this shift in attitude – and hence the creation of sustainable tourism – holistic planning is necessary; this in turn requires that environmental and social issues around the development of the host site provide the paramount organizing concept in the development process. No longer can social and environmental development be treated as an automatic outcome of business development, as the 'trickle down theory' beloved of orthodox economists would have us believe. Social and environmental development must be viewed as the concerns of a tourism project, not simply left to chance or viewed only as potential byproducts. If a particular development is not socially and environmentally positive for the region and community in which it occurs – regardless of the benefits it may offer to the trans-national corporation or national government concerned – then at the very least it needs to be reconsidered.
Excerpted from "Tourism, Globalization and Development"
Copyright © 2003 Donald G. Reid.
Excerpted by permission of Pluto Press.
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Table of Contents
1. Globalization And The Political Economy of Tourism Development
2. Tourism As A Function Of Development Studies
3. Concepts Of Tourism
4. Planning And Development Theory And Its Relation To Tourism Development
5. The Normative View Of Tourism Of Planning
6. Case Studies In Tourism Planning
7. The Integration Of Tourism In General Development