Socio Cultural Impacts of Tourism
As much as we all love to travel and explore the world we sometimes forget the impact of our travels.
The “World Commission on Environment and Development” developed a quit precise definition of sustainability: Sustainability is ”meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainable tourism is a well known term and a lot of travelers are aware of it but it often only includes the environmental aspect. What a lot of people and companies do not consider is the social and cultural aspect.
Getting to know a new culture is something many of us strive to experience when traveling. It broadens our horizon and helps us understand customs and traditions. However, we forget about the impact it has on the local community.
When tourism rises and more and more travelers join local events, those once cultural events become a tourism attractions and this leads to a loss of meaning for the locals and the event becomes commodity.
A destination that puts a lot of importance to environmental and socio cultural sustainability is Bhutan. They restricted the number of tourists allowed to visit the country and individual traveling is not permitted. Everyone has to book a “all inclusive tour” from one of the selected tour operators. You will get a tour guide for the time of your stay that will bring you to attractions to selected times in order to avoid that locas feel affected by the tourists. Furthermore the package price includes a royalty fee that supports the country providing its citizens with free education, free healthcare, poverty alleviation and building infrastructure.
We don’t have to be that extreme all the time but what we all should have in mind when traveling is: “Sustainable tourism means tourism which benefits both the tourist and the residents of the destination… where both gain from the opportunity to have new experiences” (Tourisk Inc.)
Here are some simple tips to travel more sustainable
Travel off peak
Respect local events such as services in church
Avoid going to staged pseudo cultural events
Spend your money locally
Choose your animal experience carefully