Ethno Tourism Benefits Both Visitors
Tourism industry has witnessed a fast development in the recent decades.As a new type of tourism, ethno tourism combines sightseeing and seeking the cultural experience of the tribal communities of the tourist destinations (Cooper, 2005).Since ethno tourism greatly stimulated the economic development of the local communities, people think that ethno tourism benefits both the visitors and the local communities of the destinations.
On the one hand, ethno tourism enhanced the cultural communication between different ethnic groups.
However, it is also worthwhile to note the possible dangers to the environment might be caused by the over-development of ethno tourism (McLaren, 2001). There are many other negative influences upon the local communities in the same time. These may include the pollution to the natural environment, the eroding of the local culture and the risk of infectious diseases. As a result, I maintain both the positive and negative influences of ethno-tourism have to be clarified so as to keep a balance between tourism development and the protection of the local communities.
This essay, based on the analysis of the various influences of ethno tourism in both the industrial development and the change of people’s attitude, examine the benefits of ethno tourism to both the visitors and the local communities of the tourist destinations. In the meanwhile, I also intend to analyze the potential harms brought about by ethno tourism in the local communities. The development of ethno tourism mainly focuses on four major long-term positive influences within the local communities.
These effects include the improvement of the local economy, the communication of different cultural groups, remarkable influence upon the society of the tribal communities and the advance of the local life conditions. With regard to economics, the benefit to the locals is considered to be the major drive force that stimulates the development of ethno tourism. Ethno tourists’ objective in visiting a local place is to seek the experience when enjoying the various types of cultural traditions which are exposed to the whole world and the influence is amplified to the outside (Mitchell, 2009).
This might become an important premise to attract more travellers to the local tribes. As time going on, the local people gradually begin to benefit from the ethno tourism industry. More travellers bring more economic resources that are urgently needed for the local development (Kaplan, 2009a). In addition, ethno tourism attract outside economic resources, which are important for the development of the local economy (Vidal, 2009). The investors come to the tribal communities like a model as teaching them how to operate a business and how to use the resources efficiently.
Therefore, these local communities may be able to manage their economy independently in the future. However, the more short-term investments follow by the more ethno tourisms will cause risks too. Over-development of ethno tourism may cause serious pollution to the local environment (McLaren, D. 2001). More visitors in the meantime may imply the pollution to the air, the water and the soil of the local environment, which used to be clean and tranquil. What is more, cultural communications are obviously resulting from the different cultural backgrounds between the tourists and indigenes.
As the development of ethno tourism, these local cultures began to be known by the outside people (Mitchell, 2009). Gradually, the local culture of the tourist destinations might become influential in the country or even in the whole world (Buckley, 2000). Taking China for example, some of the products in the mountainous areas were not well known by the outside world. However, when more and more travellers coming to these areas, the products made by them that conveying the special colours of the local culture have been accepted by the outside people.
The bamboo ware in South-east China, for instance, can be seen as one typical example. Originally, these bamboo wares were only made for family use of the local people in these areas, however, when more and more tourists coming to the local place, they find these bamboo wares are not only useful in life but are also nicely made. And some of them can even be seen as artistic products that conveying the special culture of the locals. In this way, these bamboo wares are exported to the outside world and gradually become popular (Guo, 2001).
This is a combinative example which are contained the influence of local economy and the culture spreading of the tourist destinations. In the old times when transportation and communication were not as advanced as today, it is difficult for the outside people to know some remote tribal communities. So the excellent craftsmanship of the tribes could not be appreciated by the outside people. But it would not be restrict anymore due to the prosperous development of ethno tourism.
Most of the time, foreigners and tribal people have even interacted respectively through the visit of ethno tourism. Visitors are interested in promoting their special ways of daily lives and thus made the local people understood by the outside world. Apart from what the local people learn about the foreign guests, their communications also help the outside world understand the specialty of the local traditions in a number of ways. In addition, with much more understanding of the locals, people from the outside world might be more tolerant to accept the local culture.
Cultural exchange and communication between different travellers and tribes are consequently enhanced by ethno tourism. Although visitors broaden their mind because of a better cultural communication as well as indigenes, the local culture of the tourist destinations might be seriously eroded in the long-term since the culture coming from the outside world (Wilkerson, et al. , 2003). For example, in some of the South-Western provinces of China, there is a trend of losing some precious local cultures due to the acceptance of the outside culture.
Youngsters are no longer willing to live in the local place and they gradually protest against the traditional way of life because they contend that it is unfashionable to obey the tradition which has been passing down to them by generations. Consequently, the valuable indigenous culture may be extinct. The influence of the society resulted in ethno tourism to the local communities is also as remarkable as culture. The reason can be understood as similar to that of the economic development stimulated by ethno tourism in the destinations.
The mechanism can be understood as a chain reaction, which is a series of changes brought about by the ethno tourism (Cooper, 2005). The first process of this change is the opening of the tourism resources to the outside world. The second stage is to attract as many tourists as possible to contribute to the local economic development. In the final step, a whole system of the local industry based on the ethno tourism can be set up. In this way, there would be a profound change of the local society (Wurzburger, 2009).
Nevertheless, this change is not owing to the destruction of the natural and cultural resources of the destinations. On the contrary, ethno tourism encourages the preservation of the sustained ability of the local communities to attract ethno tourisms as many as possible. Again, the development of ethno tourism is conducted according to the preservation of the local tourism resources (Wilkerson, et al. , 2003). Accordingly, the special culture of the tourist destinations is expected to be well preserved rather than be destroyed.
At the same time, the local government aims the local communities by issuing political support of preserving the natural and cultural resources of ethno tourism. For this reason, the sustained ability of the tourism travelling in the local communities can guarantee that the local communities constantly attain advantages. With the accumulation of wealth since the development of ethno tourism, the local tribes are needed to build the infrastructures as soon as possible what are essential to improve the life conditions of the indigenous communities.
Tourism can be a useful source of income (Vidal, 2009). For instance, with the money they earned, the indigenous communities can build up roads, hospitals or other basic facilities for the locals. In my view, health service is the most important part of the local tribes’ improved living conditions and it is exactly built up by the income of the tourism industry. In other word, it can be said that it is based on the economic development stimulated by the ethno tourism so that the public health facilities can be improved.
Also, ethno tourism, aiming at preserving the local natural environment, does not bring about any significant negative influence on the local ecosystem (Wurzburger, 2009). This is very important to preserve the health conditions of the local communities because ethno tourism stands against environmental destruction and industrial pollution (Buckley, 2000). Hence, the profits made from ethno tourism, needless to say, are played a major role in the local healthy industry.
Despite the tribal citizens will gain some benefits for their living standards because of the progress of the infrastructures, the health of the locals might also be negatively influenced by the development of ethno tourism. According to the research result of some investigations, in some tourist destinations, about 30-50% of the locals die from diseases introduced from the outside world by the travellers (Kaplan, 2009b). The foreigners may bring new diseases to the tourist destinations and the indigenes may die of lacking in immunity.
To sum up, as a new concept of the tourism industry, ethno tourism mainly benefits the local communities as well as the travellers whilst it has been paid numerous attentions to in the past few years, such as protecting environment and learning to manage business. Especially, with the advocating of environmental preservation and natural protection, ethno tourism has been considered to be one of the major trends of the development of world tourism. However, people should keep an eye on that the over-development of ethno tourism which might be a long-term dangerous roblem to the ruin of some aspects of the tribes people’s life while the destruction of the natural environment is the most serious issue. How to keep a balance between protecting the cultural environment of the local communities and the development of the local society and economy in particular is an urgent task of both the local indigenes and the foreign visitors. Otherwise, no one can acquire any advantage from ethno tourism because the destroying ethnic environment is unable to attract tourist and no more bring any profits then.