Tourism and Globalisation
- 21 Nov 2023
As per the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), tourism stands out as one of the rapidly expanding sectors, making a substantial contribution of over 10% to the worldwide Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (UNWTO 2017; Mikayilov et al. 2019). The number of international tourists, which was 25 million in 1950, saw a substantial increase, reaching 166 million by 1970, and ultimately surging to 1.442 billion in 2018. Projections indicate that this figure is expected to further climb to 1.8 billion by 2030.
Since 1980, World Tourism Day has been observed on the 27th of September annually. This date commemorates the acceptance of the Organisation's Statutes in 1970, which laid the foundation for the establishment of UNWTO five years later. In 2023, UNWTO emphasises the importance of increased and more precise investments that benefit both individuals and the environment, contributing to overall prosperity.
Tourism and globalisation are interconnected phenomena that have evolved significantly in recent decades. Globalisation refers to the increasing interconnectedness and interdependence of countries and cultures due to advances in technology, communication, transportation, and trade. Tourism, on the other hand, involves the movement of people from one place to another for leisure, recreation, business, or other purposes. While globalisation has facilitated the growth of the tourism industry, tourism, in turn, has contributed to the spread of globalisation by connecting people, cultures, and economies across the globe. However, it's important to manage the impacts of tourism responsibly, considering both the economic benefits and potential negative consequences for local cultures, environments, and communities.
Impact of Tourism on Globalisation
- Cultural Exchange and Integration: Tourism encourages the exchange of cultures, traditions, and ideas, fostering global cultural integration. As people from around the world travel and interact, they share cultural practices, languages, and cuisines, promoting cross-cultural understanding.
- Globalisation of Supply Chains and Trade: The tourism industry relies on a global network of suppliers and service providers, enhancing the globalisation of supply chains and trade. Hotels source goods internationally, airlines operate globally, and tour operators collaborate worldwide.
- Economic Benefits: Tourism is a significant global industry that spurs economic growth, job creation, and infrastructure development, such as airports and hotels. This economic interdependence fosters globalisation by promoting trade and investment.
- Environmental and Social Impacts: Tourism has both positive and negative environmental and social effects. It can promote sustainable tourism and awareness of environmental and cultural preservation on a global scale. However, it can also lead to over-tourism, environmental degradation, and cultural commodification, necessitating international cooperation and solutions.
- Cultural Homogenisation: While some argue that tourism spreads Western ideals through media, like music, fashion, movies, and food, potentially homogenising cultures, it's not the sole means of disseminating these values.
Sustainable Tourism in a Globalised World
It is a critical concept and practice that aims to promote responsible and environmentally friendly travel while considering the interconnectedness of the world's economies and cultures. It seeks to minimise the negative impacts of tourism on the environment, local communities, and culture while maximising the benefits for all stakeholders involved. Here are some key aspects of sustainable tourism in a globalised world:
- Environmental Conservation e.g., Reducing Carbon Footprint, and Protecting Natural Resources
- Cultural Respect, Preservation and Supporting Local Economies
- Community Involvement and Empowerment through Community-Based Tourism
- Preservation and Conservation of Heritage Sites
- Smart Destination Management Using Technology and Innovation
- Raising Awareness among travellers about the importance of responsible tourism
- Enforcing Environmental and Cultural Protection Laws and Promoting Sustainable Practices through incentives and policies
Tourism as Soft Power: Culture, Attraction, and Influence
Tourism can wield significant soft power by leveraging culture, aesthetics, and history to attract and influence other nations. Soft power fosters global engagement and belonging, promoting social inclusion, well-being, and cultural heritage. India, for instance, employs yoga as a diplomatic tool to enhance its soft power projection, bolstering its international standing. The government revitalises cultural heritage preservation and fosters Indian cultural diplomacy, recognising the economic value of the cultural sector. This approach enhances the nation's global reputation, showcasing the role of tourism in wielding soft power.
Digitalisation and Tourism Marketing
How to create a trustworthy brand has changed as a result of social media. The days of hoardings and brochures are finished for the tourism sector. Obtaining social shares, favourable user evaluations and customer happiness on social media is essential for business success. The way people research a trip before taking it is one way that social media has an impact on tourism. People are now encouraged to talk about their travels. Digital marketing organisations are proving to be quite beneficial by offering current campaigns to promote the most recent services. The tourism industry is gaining a lot from social media marketing, including increased brand recognition. By targeted advertising and natural exposure, social media platforms give businesses the ability to connect with a broad audience and increase brand recognition.
Online tourism promotion in the context of globalisation offers numerous advantages, including wider reach and cost-effectiveness. However, it also presents challenges related to access, competition, and cultural sensitivity. Tourism businesses must carefully navigate these advantages and disadvantages to create effective online promotion strategies in a globalised world.
Tourism Policies and International Relations
Tourism policies and international relations are closely intertwined. The way countries approach tourism, including their visa policies, marketing strategies, and crisis management, can significantly impact their diplomatic relationships with other nations. When managed effectively, tourism can be a force for promoting mutual understanding, economic cooperation, and peaceful international relations. Government political decisions directly affect how tourism develops. The advancement of tourism diplomacy and its application can result in tourist arrivals, employment opportunities, and economic prosperity due to increased national income, and ultimately the establishment of a secure and peaceful society. On the other hand, the confluence of linear and transversal forces has led governments to see the tourism phenomenon as an effective instrument for influence in international relations and to employ diplomacy as a potent tactic for growing the tourism sector. The basic goal of diplomacy is to promote connections with other nations while defending the country's interests in those relationships.
Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare
Medical tourism is a fascinating idea that recently took shape and is changing how people view healthcare. People are now flying to various nations for medical procedures, surgeries, and treatments. Medical tourism has a significant and varied impact on the worldwide healthcare sector. It can transform the way healthcare is delivered, received, and experienced globally. In 2022, the Indian medical tourism market is expected to be worth US$ 7,417 million, and by 2032, it is anticipated to reach US$ 42,237.47 million. The estimate predicts that demand will increase from 2022 to 2032 at a respectable CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 19%. This practice illustrates how people's perspectives on healthcare have changed from seeing it as a localised problem to seeing it as a worldwide opportunity. Medical travel has many benefits, but there are drawbacks as well. It is crucial to address the difficulties and moral issues that come along with this trend. The secret to a balanced and sustainable healthcare future will be figuring out how to take advantage of medical tourism's good effects while fostering fair access to healthcare for everyone.
Tourism and Environmental Impacts
There are considerable adverse impacts of tourism on the ecosystem. They include issues with waste and pollution, as well as the depletion of local natural resources. Overconsumption of natural resources due to tourism is a common problem in areas where there are already limited resources. Tourism has a substantial influence on the way local land is utilised, leading to consequences such as soil erosion, heightened pollution, the depletion of natural ecosystems, and added pressure on endangered wildlife. The very environmental assets that tourism relies on may ultimately be harmed by these effects. Overusing water is a common problem in tourism. For example, a typical golf course in a tropical nation uses the same amount of water as 60,000 rural residents. Additionally, it consumes 1500 kilograms of chemical pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers annually. More than 5% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions are related to tourism, 90% of which are caused by transportation. The estimated increase in CO2 emissions from tourism from 2016 to 2030 is 25% from 1,597 million tonnes to 1,998 million tonnes.
Tourism Security and Global Concerns
Tourism security is a critical aspect of the travel industry, and it has become even more significant in recent years due to global concerns related to safety and security. Travellers and the tourism industry as a whole face various challenges and global concerns in this regard. Among the most frequent risks to safe and secure tourism include crime, conflicts, social and political chaos, environmental hazards, and the spread of contagious diseases. Any security-related incidents have damaged their reputation and may result in fewer visitors. Ensuring the safety of travellers is essential for the well-being of the tourism industry and the enjoyment of those exploring the world. Safety and security issues are crucial in the tourism industry, and any attractions that neglect these responsibilities risk losing out on strong visitor competition. Performing regular evaluations and obtaining stakeholder perceptions is one technique for ensuring that safety and security are provided adequately. Adequate planning, preparedness, and cooperation among stakeholders are keys to addressing these concerns and promoting safe and sustainable tourism.
Undoubtedly, tourism is a powerful force in the process of globalisation. It promotes cross-cultural interactions, drives economic growth, enhances technological innovation, and influences global perceptions. However, it also presents challenges related to sustainability, cultural preservation, and the equitable distribution of benefits. Managing these impacts is essential for harnessing the positive aspects of tourism while minimising its negative consequences on global society and the environment.