Eco-tourism 5 - Money matters
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Date: 12 October, 2002
India - Vegetable Market. Photo: Andre Shine
investment is the Goose that lays the golden egg of infrastructure, jobs and hard
currency - so how much benefit trickles down to the locals?'
In episode five
of her six-part surefish.co.uk series on eco-tourism, Andre Shine urges responsible
travellers to spend their holiday money with the locals wherever possible.
At 6 am, no sooner had I emerged from the Sree Devi Hotel than I heard a rickshaw
driver shout 'where are you going?'. I stood wondering, 'is no hour of day, or
place, sacred?' Once again my personal space had been invaded by what felt like
a nation in the grip of the hospitality, transport and retail.
times, notably in developing nations, the ratio of local tradespeople to tourist
is extreme - competition can be high. But in truth the local economy receives
only the crumbs from the large investor's plate.
Tourism is often seen, by less developed nations, as a panacea for the domestic
economy. Overseas investment is the Goose that lays the golden egg of infrastructure,
jobs and hard currency. So how much benefit trickles down to the locals, whose
lives are often adversely affected by the impact of tourism?
produced by international investors can be as high as 70 or 85% according to Tourism
Concern - a charity campaigning for fair trade and human rights within tourism.
Yet in Nepal only 1.2% of revenue, generated by tourism, remains within some mountain
communities that host trekking parties.
Although research shows that package tourists budget more per day than backpackers,
spending habits differ.
The nature of backpacking has leant itself to penetrating locations with minimal
tourism infrastructure. As a result their daily budget is spent within the local
community - including family run hostels. Backpacker accommodation tends to be
built by local craftspeople, whose supplies are sourced locally. Investment is
more affordable, and therefore more likely to evolve from within the community.
Consumables such as cooking ingredients, and cleaning detergents, are generally
bought from nearby markets.
Conversely, from the construction materials and technical expertise to the branded
drinks stocked behind hotel bars, vast amounts of money leak overseas through
imports. And back into the pockets of the tourist's home nation. Holiday-makers
are often encouraged to spend their budgets within the resort complex, cutting
out local tradespeople.
- Larger resorts require skilled professionals, employed from elsewhere, to manage
the day to day business. Travel reps and tour guides may also be recruited externally.
And transport services are often contracted out to large companies, based outside
- Once again the crumbs are offered to locals. Opportunities may include cleaners,
bar staff, kitchen assistants and laundry staff.,
contrast to package resorts, locally owned hostels tend to be family run. Other
support services used by backpackers, such as local transport, restaurants and
tour guides, will also be supplied by people who live close by.
well as supporting the community, buying locally produced goods and services frees
you from the chains of pre-booking. It also provides the flexibility to make decisions
when you've reached your destination and you've discovered what there is on offer.
This article is part of a series - use these links
to view the other eco-tourism articles