The Context of Global Tourism

Tourism is part and parcel of modern day living. The number of leisure travellers is steadily on the rise. The United Nations World Tourism Organisations (UNWTO) reported a billion tourism and leisure arrivals in different worldwide destinations, and has projected global tourism arrivals exceeding 1.5 billion in a year by 2020.

In developing countries, tourism is promoted extensively as a means of poverty alleviation, and as an agent of economic development. The Asia-Pacific refion, home for around 65% of the world's population, entices tourists from this and other regions with marketing slogans such as Incredible India, Amazing Thailand, Malaysia Truly Asia, Remarkable Indonesia, It's More Fun in the Philippines, and others.

Today, the global tourism industry is listed as one of the four largest industries in the world. The size, extent, and impact of this commercialised industry make it a significant modern phenomenon.

However a closer examination reveals that beneath the well-advertised images of holidays and fun lays a darker reality that is well hidden. Mass commercial tourism driven by profit and pleasure puts immense pressure on the community and environment. Communities in Asia and the Pacific experience major negative impact that is obvious to keen observers. It arises from factors such as:

  • a. Diversion of essential people's resources such as land, water, electricity, and other infrastructure away from the community to golf courses, hotels and resorts, theme parks, airports, and so on, that cater to tourists;

  • b. Displacement of people and loss of livelihood;

  • c. Low wages and reduced working conditions;

  • d. Revenue loss through tax concessions, subsidised land, earnings and profits sent overseas;

  • e. Global warming and climate change effects arising from air travel, cruise shipping, high energy use, destruction of natural resources;

  • f. Environmental and ecological damage, including loss of biodiversity;

  • g. Human rights violations;

  • h. Prostitution and trafficking of women and children;

  • i. Health hazards such as HIV AIDS and other afflictions;

  • j. Threat to cultural identity of local and indigenous people.

Such tourism is unjust and harmful, and itself contributes to third world poverty. Hence, another tourism is needed.