Here’s a 13-year-old’s take on the question, “Tourism: Yay or nay?”

The following essay was submitted by Janice Jung, 13, as part of a high school course teaching students about global issues and sustainability. We’re pleased to see this topic on the curriculum, these things really weren’t taught enough in our day! Over to you Janice…

Everyone likes a good holiday, whether it’s simply going to the beach or flying halfway across the world. The wealthier people are able to have a nice time having fun in fascinating and beautiful countries while the poorer people put the money the richer people spend in their wallets; it seems fair enough.

However this is not the case sometimes, because as the amount of tourist arrivals rapidly rises, things can start to go very wrong. From disruption of culture to the wrecking of the environment, tourism isn’t always as happy and helpful as we thought it was.

Personally, I think the negative impacts outweigh the positive ones in terms of tourism; this is however only my opinion and I will be explaining both sides to the argument in this article.


Tourism is basically the operation of vacations and visits to places of interest. Billions of people go to other countries as tourists every year. There has been a huge increase of international tourist arrivals globally since 1950 up until now. The amount of tourists that arrive in Europe and America has always been high and because of this the increase of tourist arrivals from 1950 to 2006 in Europe and America -around 400 million and 550 million respectively – is quite low compared to the extremely high numbers of South Asia, Middle East and Africa.

The increase of international tourist arrivals in South Asia, the Middle East and Africa is almost twice that of Europe, a staggering 846 million. It is predicted that in a couple of years’ time that number will gradually rise to 1 billion, and that number will continue to grow until it reaches 1.6 billion in the year 2018.Why is it that people are suddenly all attracted to travelling to South Asia, the Middle East and Africa? This is because Asia and Africa are new and captivating lands for many people in the world and as a lot more people are visiting these two continents, so many are starting to realize that it is safe to travel there and also that they are so beautiful and exotic.

People who live in developed countries, me being one of them, only get wealthier and wealthier. This enables us not only to be able to go on vacations and travel more often, but also to spend a lot of money on souvenirs, food and tourist attractions whilst enjoying a break. Although there are some of negatives sides of this that I was previously mentioned, there are some good points as well.

There are lots of positive impacts of tourism. The main positive point is that tourism is such a great way for poor countries to earn a lot of money. Tourism creates jobs for the people living in the country through both direct and indirect employment. People can be directly employed by a tourism industry or can indirectly through different means such as retail or transportation or hotels. Services that tourists demand and leisure activities that come out of tourism also benefit the locals that live there. Particular types of tourism such as nature or ecotourism helps to promote and raise awareness of the nature and wildlife that we need to protect. Some of the money made from these types of tourism goes to help animal preserves and other natural parks. However, there are a few negative impacts of tourism too.

For tourism to be successful there needs to be basic services and transportation available, such as hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants, roads and cabs. If a country or city doesn’t already have all of these, they will need to be built in order for the tourism to work and benefit them properly. The cost of building all of these basic necessities falls on the government; this can result to higher taxes so that the government can afford all of it. Additionally, many jobs created by tourism are poorly paid and low skilled. Interacting with foreigners can lead to the wearing out of local tradition and culture. Tourism also impacts the environment negatively. Tourism is a threat to a country’s natural resources such as coral reefs, forests, oceans and beaches. Lots of pollution is created by transportation, and with so many more people in the country, there are huge increases in sewage and noise pollution.

A very good example that shows both the negative and the positive influences of tourism is a small island off the coast of Tanzania called Zanzibar. We’ll look at the positive impacts first. Stone Town is a culturally and architecturally significant town in Zanzibar. It was designated as a World Heritage Site and this has given it protection from any changes or development that would have been made because of tourism. The only changes that can be made to Stone Town are those to help conserve and protect it. This World Heritage Site status will also promote the beauty of culture and history to the tourists that come to visit the Stone Town in Zanzibar. These are examples of positive environmental impacts of tourism.

There are a few positive social impacts too. A new ferry terminal was built at Zanzibar in order to cater for the demands of tourism. This not only helps the tourists but also the locals. Approximately 1000 locals and tourists use the ferry every day and it just makes getting around a lot easier. Another factor that was developed for the tourists was internet access. Again, this not only benefitted the tourist but the locals too. Everyone has easy access to cyber cafes where they are free to browse the websites and use the internet. The third and last type of impact is a positive economic impact. As I mentioned before, tourism creates many jobs for the locals in the country and exactly that happened in Zanzibar. Many job spaces were open at hotels in Nungwi. Also, poor countries such as Zanzibar rely on tourism to get them the money the need. Zanzibar receives US$220 million a year just from tourism. A hotel in Zanzibar named ‘Zanzibar Serena Hotel’ used the money they got from the tourists to improve their hotel building located in Stone Town. This is good and important because often money earned through tourism isn’t used for the country itself.  Sometimes it’s paid to international companies, which is not helpful at all to the local area. However, there are also lots of bad points of tourism.

There are many negative impacts. Zanzibar has a wonderful coral reef; however these coral reefs, especially the one near Nungwi to the north of the island, are getting wrecked and destroyed by tourists who think they can just break and crack pieces off of the reef to bring home. This happens a lot because the tourists don’t respect the country they are visiting and the environment. Due to the large amount of people that come to visit during the holidays and whether it is sewage waste, carbon emissions or even simply litter, lots of waste is created. As there is so much sewage waste the country needs to deal with, all of it is sent straight into the ocean. This is not only unhygienic for the people who walk and splash around on the beach, but can also be harmful to the marine life under the sea. Tourists are also a problem to fishermen. Many hotels, like the ones in Uroa, fenced off the beach so that only certain people can access it. This means that the fishermen are not able to fish. There are parts of the beach where it is not fenced up, but those areas have no fish nearby because all the tourists have scared them off.

Another negative impact of tourism is that some locals may get offended by the tourists’ lack of respect towards them and their culture. Zanzibar is a Muslim country and that means the locals must cover their shoulders, especially when they are stepping into a religious building. However some tourists don’t realize this and don’t put any effort into respecting Zanzibar’s religion and the culture and traditions they follow (this impact comes under the category of social negatives impacts). There are a few economic negative impacts too. The tourists are from wealthy countries, and thus they will be carrying around quite a bit of money when they are going around touring new places. The tourists are obviously much richer than the locals that live in the area. In Zanzibar, this led to muggings and local people stealing from the tourists on the east coast near Uroa and Matemwe.

The last negative economic impact is that the jobs made from tourism are menial, low skilled, boring and very poorly paid. They are also very unstable because tourists only come during the holidays so there are periods where there are hardly any tourists. No tourists mean that no one gets paid.

In conclusion, there are positive and negative impacts of tourism,  social, environmental and economic. Tourism is a great source of income for a poor country; it can promote different nature campaigns and can also create lots of services that both the tourists and the locals can use together. But on the other hand, tourism can encourage stealing and the jobs that it creates are very low quality and low paying jobs.It leaves a massive impact on the environment by destroying the nature and wildlife, such as the rainforests, coral reefs, jungles and many more. Tourism can also take away some locals’ rights while also insulting the local culture and religion. In other words, I believe that tourism is a negative force.

Author: 13-year old Janice Jung, a student from King George V School in Hong Kong.


We share Janice’s concerns about the impact of tourism, if you’d like to read more about what we’re doing about it, have a gander at our sustainability page


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