Organised tours to remote areas and communities are increasingly popular. Is this a positive or negative development for the local people and environment?
Since many tourist destinations are seemingly overloaded with visitors, some people prefer to go on organised tours to more remote places. This can have both positive and negative effects on the local population and the environment.
The positive effects are those often associated with increased tourism in other places. The local people get job opportunities and can make money from providing food, souvenirs, transport and accommodation for the visitors. This can have the effect of persuading younger people in particular to remain in the locality rather than moving to cities away from where they grew up. Consequently, the local community can avoid dying out as the young leave for the promise of riches elsewhere.
However, there can be negative impacts on the local culture, as people are introduced to the trappings of modern life and commerce. Unscrupulous outsiders may take advantage of the relative innocence of the local people. In addition, there is no guarantee that the tourists will spend much money, with some tour operators providing food and accommodation away from the local settlements, for example, rather than paying locals for such services. Moreover, there is a risk that ethnic minorities in remote areas may become viewed as ‘quaint’ rather than rich cultures in their own right.
Turning to the environmental impacts, these are bound to be negative, almost by definition. The building of facilities and infrastructure can destroy the habitat of wild animals. Moreover, tourism activities would inevitably create pollution and waste, and having more people on an area would put additional pressure on local natural resources.
To summarise, I think that organized tours to remote places can be both beneficial and harmful to the local population and I cannot see how the environment can benefit from it at all.
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