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 and lifestyles, languages, and levels of prosperity. The result can be an overexploitation of the social carrying capacity (limits of acceptable change in the social system inside or around the destination) and cultural carrying capacity (limits of acceptable change in the culture of the host population) of the local community. 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 growing among local people.
Cultural clashes may further arise through:
- Economic inequality: Many tourists come from societies with different consumption patterns and lifestyles than what is current at the destination. In resorts in destination countries such as Jamaica, Indonesia or Brazil, tourism employees with average yearly salaries of US$ 1,200 to 3,000 spend their working hours in close contact with guests whose yearly income is well over US$ 80,000.
- Irritation due to tourist behaviour: Tourists often, out of ignorance or carelessness, fail to respect local customs and moral values bringing about irritation and stereotyping. Such cultural clashes are typical of strict muslim countries where women are to carefully cover themselves in public. Tourists in these countries often disregard these standards, appearing in revealing shorts, skirts or even bikinis, or sunbathing topless at the beach. Besides creating ill-will, this kind of behaviour can be an incentive for locals not to respect their own traditions and religion anymore, leading to tensions within the local community.
- Job level friction: In developing countries especially, many jobs occupied by local people in the tourist industry are at a lower level, such as housemaids, waiters, gardeners and other practical work, while higher- paying and more prestigious managerial jobs go to foreigners or "urbanised" nationals. In addition, even if nationals and foreigners occupy the same position, foreigners will to be paid more than locals resulting in friction and irritation. This situation seems to arise particularly often in the SCUBA diving industry.
Based on UNEP Production and Consumption Unit Tourism Programme
printed on 2013/05/23 13:48:39