How does tourism affect those playing host?


I’m starting work in earnest this week on a documentary series about two aspects of the impact that tourism can have. I want to understand more about how it affects local culture, and also if it alters how people view tourists and more broadly outsiders.

I’m in Cornwall now, and will be in the Caribbean over the New Year. Any thoughts, guests suggestion or experiences you have would be gratefully received. The idea is tied to my childhood…

I grew up in Cornwall (which is where I am now) but I also lived in The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago for periods of time as well. My Dad worked on and off as a fisheries consultant for the FAO, and now and again rather than heading off for a couple of months on his own, he’d take a longer contract and we’d go with him. All three places had growing tourist industries which you couldn’t help but be aware of. And now I want to take some time to explore what real effect that expansion has had on the three places. Not in terms of economics, but rather in terms of how we express ourselves, how we feel about where we come from, and how we feel towards outsiders.

I’ll post in more detail and I’m hoping that this is just the start of our conversations on this.

27 Responses to “How does tourism affect those playing host?”

  1. 1 steve
    August 25, 2009 at 18:29

    My main gripe with tourists is that they tend to be clueless. It’s like they’ve never been on a train before, they don’t know to let people off before they get on, the stand on the left side of the escalators, they don’t make room for people to get off the train, they stop at the end of escalators and congregate, causing a pileup of people, which can cause serious injuries or deaths.

    Sure, I’m sure tourists help the economy of DC, and that outweighs any inconveniences, but they always act like the world revolves around them. Just exercise some common courtesy.

  2. 3 Uzondu Esionye
    August 25, 2009 at 18:58

    Tourism helps in developing any country that play host in many ways. first, one can have the opportunity to showcase his or her country in a positive manner, than it puts money directly in the pocket of those playing host. it actually helps us express ourselves in mannars that can not been seen in other sectors. it also helps keep community clean and healthy.

  3. 4 anu_d
    August 25, 2009 at 19:26

    Tourism can affect the hosts in only one way….for the better.
    Brings prosperity to the local culture…
    How do locals look at tourists……. as cash cows evoking myriad images of $$$$s

  4. 5 Tom K in Mpls
    August 25, 2009 at 19:33

    One thing to look into is the contrast of two main local groups, those that want to keep the little things that made the location appealing beyond the climate, and those that want to maximize visitor flow to maximize income. It is rare these two meet easily.

  5. 6 Rob (UK)
    August 25, 2009 at 20:00

    When my home town hosted a large sports event a few years back, it changed the town forever. For the sake of a fortnight’s celebrating, we now have numerous bars along the highstreet where once there were two or three pubs. Now every weekend is the same – hordes of teenagers wandering drunkenly from door to door until the wee hours. Before this fourteen day influx of tourists we had none of this. For me, at least, playing host wasn’t worth it.

  6. 7 anon
    August 25, 2009 at 20:43

    I am from Zimbabwe and during the time when we had lots of tourists what always struck me was the way in which my country people turned themselves inside out to accommodate what seemed to me to be largely dirty rude cheap skates.

    I think for poor countries, much as tourism does generate income, I think it undermines the people’s sense of worth. They will grovel and smile for that tourist dollar. They will trade their wares for unwashed clothes and bargain themselves down to nothing to sell their goods. People go on about the jobs tourism creates but for most of the country its low paid, long hour service industry jobs. Not that there is anything wrong with service industry jobs but can we benefit a little more than getting jobs as maids and servants or those deeply tragic people who dance at the hotel entrance when bus loads of tourists appear.

    I have been to many countries on holiday and have been received warmly, indifferently, with hostility and even an interrogation once. But it is only in Africa that I have seen this spiritual disfigurement of nations again serving and battering cultural artifacts with such naked desperation that it hurts. And it hurts even more because most of these tourists don’t even see the contorted souls at their feet.

    I am sure there is much money to be made from tourism but who is making that money and at what cost. I am not saying people should not travel but I do think the commercialization of seeing the world and learning about other places and people compounds the indignities endured by poor people that they might eat. For every tourist clammering to ‘camp’ ever closer to the edge of Mosi-oa-Tunya (aka Victoria Falls) there is someone who must carry and set up their luxury tent, then light their fire to warm and feed them and then end the day by sitting up all night to fend off any animals that might pose a threat to the precious lives inside the tents. The only difference between now and when Livingston first came is that the uniforms are better.

    • August 26, 2009 at 19:41

      Mr Mugabe… sorry “Anon”

      Regarding your response to “How does tourism affect those playing host,”
      your opening line of ‘I am from Zimbabwe’ just says it all.
      I bet the millions of people suffering from hunger, nigh on famine in some areas
      of your country would be very grateful to see tourists return and I bet you there would be hundreds of people clammering to carry those tents and light fires
      at Lake Victoria.

      You say that there is much money to be made out of tourism but you ask who is making that money and at what cost?

      I have one answer Sir, (or Madam)…just open your eyes and look a little bit closer to home.

  7. 9 Jennifer
    August 25, 2009 at 21:12

    I think tourism can be a good thing for those who are playing host. The reason is because not only does it bring in $ from spending by tourists but it also allows people to connect with people from other areas. So; you get exposed to others’ culture and they get exposed to yours! I’ve met people from other states and I can tell their accents; their personalities; and I know which ones are real hotheads! 😉

    I am a little afraid of escalators. They could suck you in when the steps vanish never to be seen again.

    Show some hospitality! 🙂

  8. August 25, 2009 at 21:55

    Visitors become Tourists giving income in Tourism area.The growth of pub due to sports event bringing fan cannot be called Tourism.Drunken Girls and boys and drinking Driving is curse of drinking culture.Crossing Border as tourist is good for economy.Imagine those business small Tourism Stall Holders sitting without tourists.Hotels motels guest homes BB units had been purchased hoping to make a living give employments develop tourism resorts roads have been sabotaged in most instance.Those less fortunate poor countries had been
    told to develop tourism as a basis for income.For them playing host was important while others still dreaming to bring tourists despite inequality and few Tourists around these days.

  9. 11 Dennis Junior
    August 26, 2009 at 11:58

    First off; Tourism does have a positive and a negative side….But, at least people are encourage to experience different cultures….

    And, the hosts (countries) should be afraid of having differences….

    =Dennis Junior=

  10. 12 Ros Atkins
    August 26, 2009 at 12:25

    Hi all. thanks for your comments. i’m interested by your idea Jennifer that tourism means the hosts get to meet people they otherwise wouldn’t. but do you think there is genuine interaction? in my experience locals serve tourists but dont’ necessaily socialise as equals. certainly i’ve not seen that happen in tobago. and when i was growing up in cornwall, i can’t remember ever hanging out with teenagers from up country. that said tourism has driven the creation of more places to hang out (like beach bars etc) and maybe there is more cross-over now.

  11. August 26, 2009 at 13:42

    Hi Laurence

    Would you be so kind as to pass this to your guest _Rosz _ Rozz ?
    Just come to the debate on the show a bit late..


    Hi – listening with interest :

    I came to Cornwall in 1991 and stayed with a bunch of Surfers in Porthtowan ( who became Surfers Against Sewage ) who no doubt you’ve heard of.
    I returned in 1993 as the First Artist in Residence at the Tate St Ives, ( art+development etc)

    I moved to Cornwall in 1994 –

    A few years ago I published a major book which has in it one essay ‘ particularly about art/tourism etc’ I think you would find it interesting.
    My work was just fetaured on BBC this spring, in the Guardian and on various media outlets.

    I am currently showing my work at the National Maritime Museum in the USA ( mariners musuem )

    Do feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss. Would be great to be in the documentary.

    Much of my work by its nature relates to ‘development, tourism’

    best wishes





  12. 14 patti in cape coral
    August 26, 2009 at 13:56

    I think there is a love hate relationship going on for hosts of tourists. Undeniably, tourism brings in much-needed money, but hosts don’t generally like feeling “invaded” by outsiders. I think most hosts would prefer for tourist to just stay home and send the checks. Me personally, I don’t much care one way or another.

  13. 15 gary
    August 26, 2009 at 14:01

    If an individual travels to learn and treats all people respectfully, tourism is positive for both host and guest. Drunken or abusive folks are shame to their nation, whether they travel or not.

  14. 16 M Rule
    August 26, 2009 at 14:23

    Tourism in Cornwall – it comes from living in a beautiful part of the Country. As a local, I don’t go to the ‘tourist towns’ – St Ives or Newquay, or even beaches in the Summer. So although paying my taxes to the local council, I do not benefit from these in the Summer. Traffic is frustrating, I try to stick to the back roads (if they’re not too narrow). Another problem we have, the really quaint villages are dead in the Winter, which leaves a big problem for the small local businesses – truth is locals can’t affford to live there anyway. 2nd homes in the County do need to be monitored some how, to ensure that villages are not left empty. I believe they have a similar problem in Wales.
    I do think that like some parts of Europe a small tourism tax should be applied, to pay for extra resources like NHS – hospitals, police, fire service, cleaning up of beaches, beach rescues etc. I know that some people are against this, but why not, tourism puts a huge strain on the already strained services. Why not improve our services!!!!

  15. 17 carole lenihan
    August 26, 2009 at 14:36

    Hi Rod
    Im enjoying listening to you on BBC Cornwall.
    I know what you mean about the difference between places like Nassau in the Bahamas ( I lived and worked there in the late sixties/early seventies at the Sheraton Hotel and have always been involved in Tourism in one way or another both in England and there.
    You are right about the gifts there – what was there in the sixties is still there now
    (straw market etc.,)
    I was living in Cornwall with my Father (opposite St Michaels Mount)when I was 15 and kept returning as I loved the people and beauty.
    I have now returned on my own and am busy making a Cornish Doorstop
    which involves it being dressed in Cornish Tarten (with a Cornish Piskie Belt ) and carrying a basket of Cornish Pasties(with recipe).
    I hope to move to St Ives and try and market them???????
    What do you think

    Carole Lenihan

  16. 18 Jennifer
    August 26, 2009 at 15:47


    For college, I moved to a town that had a much more diverse population than where I live. There were people from everywhere in the world there; all integrated and became productive. Work, school, shopping, etc. In a way not like other “tourists” who just visit for a short time but most did go home after they graduated.

  17. August 26, 2009 at 16:49

    Tourism is profitable as most of you’ve mentioned. However, I am afraid that some locals wishes to keep there culture unchanged. But tourism actually help modify the culture of the locals. Another thing I would like to throw light on is the increase of waste against the environment due to the influx of tourist. If and only if wast is manage and it is done in the way the local environment is sustained, bravo…

  18. August 26, 2009 at 17:00


    When handled with restraint can be wonderful. When there is respect for each other on both sides.
    Sadly it is not so. Usually the hosts are ready to sell everything including their own mothers. While the guest behave as if they own the place, just because they pay for the facilities.

  19. August 26, 2009 at 17:50

    I listened to you on Radio Cornwall – a good debate. Originally from Hampshire, I came for a weeks holiday 20 years ago and decided to stay. I commercially fished out of Mousehole in a small punt and also on various larger vessels out of Newlyn. I’m now an established painter and have had two galleries of my own in the past. I’m now selling from my own studio.
    You said you were going to St Ives for the art. My experiences in all aspects might really be of interest to you and I would willingly impart my views!

    August 26, 2009 at 18:12

    Tourism is okay because it is all about interaction between the human species.
    Tourists have often been our ambassadors to the outside world and the need to have them has helped some areas of the country to have less natural destruction and enhanced wildlife protection.

    Okay there are areas which are earmarked as tourism areas and everything there tend to be expensive to exclude the citizens but it is okay. It is not their fault. If I may have problems with tourists, they may not be any different from that lot of my countrymen/women who work in this sector whose socialization is shaped by the work environment to differ from mine. There are times i may differ with the guests as well as the hosts. Anyhow, its not my ken and I am not disturbed by it.

  21. August 26, 2009 at 20:52

    Couch surfing is perhaps changing the way (some perhaps younger) tourists visit a new country. For me, couch surfing offers the possibility to actually meet a native of where I am traveling, someone who knows the city well and will divulge some secrets! I think this fills in the emptiness or detached feeling I often get when traveling. The connection from my guide book to the city are the people who live there! Without that, I feel a bit lost and confused, but it is hard to meet people if you aren’t that outgoing or it is a totally new culture. So couch surfing offers you easy access to a local! I like being shown unknown areas of a city, being told what is special to those that live there and especially trying good food that I may not have found on my own. It is definitely all about the people and there can be a connection if you make one!

  22. 24 T
    August 26, 2009 at 23:40

    Tourism is two-sided. The locals do their best to bring people in and give them an enjoyable experience. But, many tourists don’t return the favor. Cuba brings in lots of tourists. But many tend to be loud and drunk most of the time. And the hotel staff have to grin and take it. Is that worth it?

  23. 25 patti in cape coral
    August 27, 2009 at 20:13

    I recently spoke to a Cuban immigrant whose wife is still in Cuba. He told me that there are tourist hotels where he could stay when he visits because he is a tourist, but his wife, being a native, is not allowed to stay with him at the same hotel! So yes, I would say Cuba goes out of their way to bring in lots of tourists, at the expense of their own people!

  24. August 31, 2009 at 13:51

    My experience of places designated by commerce as tourist hotspots is that the local people are irritated by the labelling. Most of these places depend on the tourist industry to survive and that may well be the source of the irritation. Most towns and cities globally have more than one industry to ensure their survival. Is it beyond the scope of national and local governments to encourage a multiplicity of enterprises to operate in such places and give the local peoples options instead of them being stuck in a rut of mono-dependence? The answer is no and that leads to boring lives.

  25. 27 vijay Pillai
    August 31, 2009 at 21:51

    As a pioneer is sustainable development more than a decade before it was coined in 1987 with the publication,our common future, learn about sustainable tourism and use this as a criteria if the locals benefit than simply tourists have agood time and let the locals pick up the envrironmental degradation caused to clastal areas and generally ,how the local insitutions educate their population to the need for better interation and preparedbess for tourism as a viable industry on a longer term basis in a three diamentional vectors such as economy,environmental (ecological , physical and pollution abatement),and social develeopment,which form the core aim of sustainable development.

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