Tourism in the Third World:
Who benefits? Who pays?

1. Physical Environment (both 'natural' and 'man-made').


  • Conservation of natural resources, preservation of beauty spots, forests and mountain scenery.
  • Conservation of wild animals, for example East African and Southern African game parks (80,000 sq miles preserved).
  • Conservation and restoration of monuments and sites.
  • Setting up of administrative and planning controls for the environment.
  • Providing an 'economic argument' for the preservation of the environment.
  • Transformation of old buildings to new uses, such as warehouses and cellars into restaurants, etc.
  • Environmental appreciation and pride.


  • Large numbers of tourists can destroy the ,unspoilt' feel that attracts visitors.
  • Ugly hotels can ruin landscape ('architectural pollution').
  • Animals killed for souvenirs.
  • Damage to flora.
  • Pollution from sewage, rubbish, aircraft noise and the such like.
  • Influx of tourists can disturb fragile ecosystems, for instance wood for hot showers, sand-dunes for concrete.
  • Crowding/congestion.
  • Resource depletion. Game parks use grazing land (and hence stimulate 'poacher problems').

2) Economy


Provides employment. 'Direct' in hotels, transport, crafts and so on; 'indirect' in construction and service industries; 'induced' as locals re-spend income and generate jobs.

  • Earns foreign exchange: earnings not as subject to the same instabilities as the commodity markets.
  • Attracts foreign investment - hotels and so on; some investment for infrastructure.
  • Stimulates regional development away from cities (for example the Kenyan coast) including infrastructural development.
  • Increases host government income from direct taxes, sales taxes, customs duties, and so on.
  • Encouraging income to be acquired from variety of sources rather than just one.


  • Work is mostly seasonal, low paid, unskilled, insecure.
  • a large proportion of profits are repatriated by foreign operators, for example only 33% of money spent in Bali stays on the island.
  • Food and equipment to service tourists are often imported, such as lifts, buses, whisky.
  • Tourism is usually concentrated in particular areas, so regional differences in wealth may increase.
  • Farmers or people involved in fishing may be displaced to make way for tourist complexes and become dependent on tourism for employment.
  • Tourism forces up prices of food and land for local people.
  • Pressure on scarce resources, so locals face shortages, for example water for WCs, swimming pools and hotel lawns.
  • Resources diverted from other productive areas, such as farming, which may benefit the whole population.
  • Women in tourist employment outnumber men by three to one: this creates social effects?
  • Finance from game parks and the such like goes largely to central government, not to the locals most affected.. Social and cultural effects

3. Social and Cultural effects


Widens people's interests in world affairs and gives a new understanding of foreigners and their cultures (this is especially the case with non institutionalised, that is non-"mass" tourism).

  • Stimulates some upward social mobility.
  • Changes in the employment patterns of women.
  • In architecture some reflection of indigenous styles, such as Kenyan game lodges.
  • Revival of traditional arts and crafts.
  • Exploration of new media in arts, such as silver among the Navajo Indians, soapstone with the Inuit and acrylic with Aboriginals; this could lead to the establishment of art schools.
  • Development of arts to reflect contemporary life.
  • Restoration of sites and monuments.


  • Souvenirs often produced by poorly paid workers.
  • Traditional arts and culture altered to suit tourists' tastes.
  • Young people adopt the behaviour and values of tourists and under-value their own culture for example drugs, casual sex, alcohol.
  • Children sometimes drop out of school to sell souvenirs or act as guides.
  • Poor women exploited by the trade in sex, for example the United Nations estimates about 700,000 prostitutes in Thailand.
  • Tourists often stay in their own ghettos, so little opportunity for meaningful contact.
  • Insensitive visitors impose their values of dress and behaviour, such as nude bathing.
  • Low paid staff often resent their servile role to rich foreigners.
  • Visitors do not respect privacy, for example photography.
  • Visitors often judge other cultures from their own viewpoint and confirm their prejudices, such as stereotypical notions like 'exotic' and ,primitive'.
  • Transformation of once natural hospitality into commercial transactions.
  • Different wages, for example in hotels, creates social tensions. 

Programme Ideas

1. Tourism in the Third World-. Who benefits? Who pays?

2. Tourism brochures: Fact or fiction?

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