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The socio-cultural impacts of conventional tourism described here, are the effects on host communities of direct and indirect relations with tourists and of interaction with the tourism industry. For a variety of reasons, host communities often are the weaker party in interactions with their guests and service providers. The impacts arise when tourism brings about changes in value systems and behaviour, thereby threatening indigenous identity. Furthermore, changes often occur in community structure, family relationships, collective traditional life styles, ceremonies and morality.

 

 

Change of local identity and values

Conventional tourism can cause change or loss of local identity and values and brings about by several closely related influences as explained below:

  • Commercialization of local culture
    Tourism can turn local culture into commodities when religious traditions, local customs and festivals are reduced to conform to tourist expectations and resulting in what has been called "reconstructed ethnicity"
  • Standardization
    Destinations risk standardization in the process of satisfying tourists desires: while landscape, accommodation, food and drinks, etc., must meet the tourists desire for the new and unfamiliar, they must at the same time not be too new or strange because few tourists are actually looking for completely new things
  • Adaptation to tourist demands
    Tourists want souvenirs, arts, crafts, cultural manifestations. In many tourist destinations, craftsmen have responded to the growing demand and have made changes in the design of their products to make them more in line with the new customers tastes. The interest shown by tourists can contribute to the sense of self-worth of the artists and help conserve a cultural tradition. Cultural erosion may occur in the process of commercializing cultural goods

Culture clashes

Because tourism involves movement of people to different geographical locations and establishment of social relations between people who would otherwise not meet, cultural clashes can take place as a result of differences in cultures, ethnic and religious groups, values, lifestyles, languages and levels of prosperity. The attitude of local residents towards tourism development may unfold through the stages of euphoria, where visitors are very welcome, through apathy, irritation and potentially antagonism when anti-tourist attitudes begin to grow among local people.

Cultural clashes may further arise through:

  • Economic inequality - between locals and tourists who are spending more than they usually do at home.
  • Irritation due to tourist behaviour - Tourists often, out of ignorance or carelessness, fail to respect local customs and moral values. As an example, we can see the case of Catalunya. Catalunya has always been a worldwide force in the tourism industry. However, it has promoted a kind of tourism based on sun, fun and drinking. The kind of people that come to the country are only looking for those clichés and do not care about the local values. These are people who, in their own country would never shout in the street, drink alcohol all day or break all shopping windows they would find on their way "home". In Lloret de Mar, in the Costa Brava, the situation is now untenable
    (Patronat de Turisme Costa Brava Girona).
  • Job level friction - due to a lack of professional training, many low-paid tourism-jobs go to local people while higher-paying and more prestigious managerial jobs go to foreigners or "urbanized" nationals.

 

Physical influences causing social stress

The physical influences that increasing tourism has on a destination can cause severe social stress as it impacts the local community.

Socio-cultural disadvantages involve:

  • Cultural deterioration, damage to cultural heritage may arise from vandalism, littering, pilferage and illegal removal of cultural heritage items or by changing the historical landscape that surrounds it
  • Resource use conflicts, such as competition between tourism and local populations for the use of prime resources like water and energy because of scarce supply
  • Conflicts with traditional land-uses may also arise in coastal areas, when the construction of shoreline hotels and tourist faculties cuts off access for the locals to traditional fishing grounds and even recreational use of the areas

Crime

Crime rates typically increase with the growth and urbanization of an area. Growth of mass tourism is often accompanied by increased crime. The presence of a large number of tourists with a lot of money to spend and often carrying valuables such as cameras and jewellery increases the attraction for criminals and brings with it activities like robbery and drug dealing. Although tourism is not the cause of sexual exploitation, it provides easy access to it.

Deteriorating working and employment conditions

Studies show that many jobs in the tourism sector have working and employment conditions that leave much to be desired: long hours, unstable employment, low pay, little training and poor chances for qualification (www.ilo.org). In addition, recent developments in the travel and tourism trade (liberalization, very tough competition) seem to reinforce the trend towards more precarious and flexible employment conditions. Children are sometimes recruited for such jobs, because they are cheap and flexible employees.