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The United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally-accessible tourism is the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). Its membership includes 156 countries. Amongst its responsibilities are:

→ promoting tourism as a driver of economic growth

→ ensuring environmental sustainability

→ encouraging the implementation of the Global Code of Ethics for Tourism (GCET), to minimise the possible negative effects of tourism

→ promoting tourism as an instrument in achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development.

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Table 13.8 shows the growth in international tourism in recent years. The growth is even more dramatic when it is considered that, in 1950, there were just 25 million international tourist arrivals. The biggest provider of outbound tourists in 2012 was China while the largest receiver of inbound tourists was France. As Table 13.8 shows, tourism continues to grow in most regions apart from areas of north Africa and the Middle East which have been affected by conflict. There was a slump in the global recession in 2008 and USA travel fell after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Tourist destinations gain from expenditure by international tourists (on accommodation, food and drink, entertainment, shopping and other services and goods) reached an estimated US$ 1159 billion (€873 billion) in 2013.

International tourism accounts for 29 per cent of the world's exports of services and 6 per cent of overall exports of goods and services. Tourism ranks fifth after fuels, chemicals, food and automotive products, while ranking first in many developing countries.

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→ Growing affluence has meant that people have more disposable income to spend on holidays. This is particularly so in countries with growing economies like China.

→ Linked to this, people have longer holidays and more leisure time. It has become the custom for people in HICs to retire at an earlier age. This group also enjoys better health than in the past. Affluent pensioners are a significant tourist sector - the grey sector.

→ The cost of air travel has reduced with the advent of budget airlines and more fuel-efficient aircraft. This has opened new flight destinations. Charter flights have become a significant part of mass tourism and have become a part of package holidays.

→ The internet has allowed people to research and book a wider range of holidays.

→ Countries have more efficient tourist boards and well developed marketing strategies.

→ Built-attractions such as Disneyland have been developed.

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→ Transnational corporations have become involved in the industry. For example, Tui which is currently one of the world's largest tourist firms and Europe's largest tour operator. It had other industrial interests until the mid1990s when it moved into tourism, purchasing several major travel and transportation firms. In June 2014, the German company announced that it would fully merge with its 55 per cent-owned UK subsidiary TUI Travel, creating a united group with a value of US$ 9.7 billion, and begin trading on the UK stock market. Its brand names include Tui, Thomson, First Choice, Arke, Jetair and Fritidsresor. The company serves 20 million customers each year and has 1800 retail travel shops, 79 tour operators in 18 countries, 12 hotel brands in 28 countries (with 285 hotels in total), 138 aircraft and 10 cruise liners. Tui has been the shirt sponsor of the German Bundesliga football club Hannover 96 (Hannover was the original group headquarters) since the 2002-2003 season. It was shirt sponsor of the English Premiership football club Tottenham Hotspur for three seasons.

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Pollution issues are at the heart of this change of character. Visual pollution is best exemplified by the uncontrolled building of high-rise developments that went on in the Spanish costas in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Even more modest developments change the character of a locality

Although some resorts have noise problems associated with late night entertainment, the main source of noise pollution is the increased road traffic. Litter is an issue for many resort areas and money is often spent cleaning streets and beaches early in the morning.  

Air pollution increases with the volume of road traffic but the more significant aspect is the carbon footprint of the air travel associated with international tourism. A report in 2002 by the World Wildlife Fund estimated that holiday flights in one year from the UK to Cyprus emitted ah 700 000 tonnes of CO2, more than double the amour tourist produced during the stay.

The Travel Foundation identified a number of areas whe resorts could reduce carbon footprints including:

→ anaerobic digestion of waste with methane recovery

→ optimisation of the use of bottled water

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→ further encouragement of use of local food produce.

Tourism can exceed the carrying capacity of the area, i.e. the number of tourists can exceed the number that the local area can cope with. The concept of carrying capacity can apply to:

→ Services: in resort areas with low rainfall, mass tourism places great demand on the water supply. Examples of this include the Canary Islands (Spain) and Las Vegas (USA). In areas where uncontrolled development has gone ahead, sewerage systems and power supplies have been unable to cope. Generally speaking, tourists in high-class hotels will consume disproportionally more of these resources than local people. Roads become choked with traffic.

→ The physical environment: with aspects such as footpath erosion and adverse effects on the ecology of flora and fauna.

→ Local people's perceptions of how many tourists are acceptable. Sometimes the development of tourism has allowed investment to improve the environment. In South Africa the importance of tourism has led to protection of wild animals from poaching and the development of National Parks, reserves and veterinary services.

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The main effect of international tourism is often to be the distortion of culture which occurs. be the adoption of western dress and moral values the English language. On the other hand, some think performances of traditional culture such as costume ang dancing specifically put on for tourists are demeaning. The same is sometimes said about the nature of some hospitality employment such as cleaning, waiter service, etc.

Where local people do not accept the hospitality culture, they develop resentment towards tourists. This occurs in some LICs because of the disparity in wealth between moral values, and tourists and locals or in some tourist areas of HICs like the UK where the locals have disrespectful nicknames for tourists.

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There are various categories of behaviour by tourists which may be found offensive by local people. This might include women uncovering their heads in certain Muslim countries or people wearing scanty bathing costumes on beaches. Drunkenness, drug-taking and their associated bad behaviour have plagued certain tourist resorts on the Mediterranean which cater for this market.

Crime rates often rise as tourism grows. This might be violent crime committed by tourists, associated with alcohol and drugs or robbery committed by local people linked to the great disparity in wealth between tourists and locals. This disparity in wealth leads to prostitution being a feature of some resort areas. On the positive side, tourism can increase the facilities available for local people and help develop language skills.

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In some island states a very high percentage of GDP comes from tourism, such as Palau (72 per cent), Aruba (43 per cent), Seychelles, Cayman Islands, Barbados, Mauritius, Bahamas and Malta. The percentage is also high in other countries such as Lebanon, Croatia, Cambodia and Jordan. At its best, this can lead to a regional multiplier effect. Profits for business leads to increased income from taxes, reinvestment in infrastructure and economic take-off of the area. Jobs are provided for people and new skills are developed. This may involve a change in culture so people see the benefits of entrepreneurship and hospitality.

As in other branches of the economy, ownership may partly be in the hands of TNCs so profits may go abroad and there is the possibility of tax losses. Another economic leakage can be the employment of foreign staff who send home remittances.

In certain types of resort, employment is seasonal so that workers are laid off in the off-season. This is the case in some Mediterranean beach resorts in winter. Some Alpine resorts have two peaks - one in winter for skiing and one in summer for mountaineering and touring holidays. Tourism may drive up the costs of everyday goods, making it difficult for low-paid hospitality workers.

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In many countries low pay and poor conditions of service are issues in the tourism sector, e.g. hotel workers who have to work early morning and evening shifts which are difficult for parents with young families. Where countries or regions become over-dependent on tourism they may be adversely affected by falls in demand due to:

→ Terrorism: there have been many instances where terrorist attacks or fear of attacks has reduced demand, including the attacks in London in July 2005.

→ Natural disasters: these include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods. The Indonesian tsunami of 2004 is one example.

→ Health scares such as the SARS breakout in China in 2003.

→ Exchange rate fluctuations: for example, the high value of the US dollar relative to the euro made Europe a much cheaper destination for US tourists in the summer of 2015.

→ Political instability: in 2014 this adversely affected tourism in Egypt.

→ Change in fashion: traditional locations may decline as others become more fashionable, in the way that UK seaside resorts declined in the 1970s. Cruises grew in fashion after the millennium, for example.

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A graph of Butler’s resort life cycle model (

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1. Exploration - a small number of tourists visit the area. The area is unspoilt and few tourist facilities exist.
2. Involvement - local people start to provide some facilities for tourists. There starts to become a recognised tourist season.
3. Development - the host country starts to develop and advertise the area. The area becomes recognised as a tourist destination.
4. Consolidation - the area continues to attract tourists. The growth in tourist numbers may not be a fast as before. Some tensions develop between the host and the tourists.
5. Stagnation - the facilities for the tourists may decline as they become old and run down. The numbers of tourists may decline too.
6. Decline - if the resort is not rejuvenated (stage 6) then it will go into decline. People lose their jobs related to tourism. The image of the area suffers.
7. Rejuvenation - investment and modernisation may occur which leads to improvements and visitor numbers may increase again.

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Exploration: Sea bathing became fashionable among the wealthy social classes and the first visitors arrive.

Involvement: The railway to Blackpool was built in 1846, allowing some weekend visitors. In the 1870s workers were given annual holidays for the first time. One of Blackpool's first facilities,the Central Pier, was built in 1868.

Development and consolidation: This occurred between 1900 and 1950 with visitor numbers increasing from about 4 million in 1900 to a peak of 17 million in 1950. Blackpool became a main annual holiday destination for industrial workers from the textile mills, coal mines and steel works of the north of England and Scotland. The wakes weeks developed where each town in Lancashire and Yorkshire took the holiday on a different week in the summer, so that from June to September one town was on holiday each week. In 1907 workers were guaranteed 12 days annual paid holiday. It was also traditional for people from one town to go to a particular resort or resorts, e.g. people from Bradford would go to either Morecambe or Bridlington.

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Stagnation and decline: From 1960 onwards visitor numbers declined. Blackpool's beaches, which were once crowded in summer, were often empty. This was because of the advent of cheap package holidays to the better climate of the Mediterranean resorts. The resort has many rundown areas, derelict buildings and social problems such as unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse and crime. It developed a reputation for rowdy stag and hen parties. Annual visitor numbers slumped to about 11 million in 2000, with visitors staying for much shorter periods.

The final phase: Blackpool is trying to rejuvenate itself in a number of ways. here has been increased investment in the Illuminations - a night-time light display - which helps to extend the tourist season into the autumn months. It continues to have facilities for conferences and hosts annual conferences of political parties. The architecturally renown Grand Theatre hosts a wide variety of productions. Blackpool promotes events and festivals such as the Blackpool Dance Festival and the Punk Rock Rebellion Festival. Blackpool is often described as the gay capital of the North Blackpool investigated developing a casino resort along the lines of Las Vegas or Atlantic City. The plan was highly contentious and the attempt failed. There have been regeneration projects such as that of the South Shore area. Raising the capital for redevelopment is a problem. To assist this some of the facilities have been sold to developers, e.g. the Tower is run by the entertainment group which runs the London Eye which has allowed a programme of repairs costing £10 million. 

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In 2013 Spain had the world's third-largest number of international tourists - 60.7 million, compared to its 45.9 million inhabitants. Although there are tourist attractions in many regions, mass tourism is concentrated in the Mediterranean coastal resorts on the Costa Brava, Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol and on the island of Mallorca.

Exploration and involvement: In the 1960s the economy of the area was based on fishing and farming with few tourists. Accommodation was very limited. Roads were poor and electricity, sewerage and water supplies were not developed. The beaches and villages were quiet and unspoiled.

Development: In the 1970s and 1980s there was a rapid expansion in tourism. There was largely uncontrolled development of high-rise, concrete hotel and apartment blocks. Bars and restaurants developed. There was expansion of employment in construction and hospitality and catering. Flora and fauna became damaged and beaches and seas became less clean.

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Consolidation: By about 1990, carrying capacity had been reached and water supplies, sewerage and electricity systems were fully stretched. Building continued with more upmarket hotels, marinas, golf courses and villas. Noise pollution and crime increased. Many areas became linear developments as the growth points of Torremolinos, Marbella, Fuengirola and Malaga spread along the coast. These developments included hotels, villas, second homes, retirement homes and golf courses.

Stagnation: In 2009 the number of tourists visiting Spain dropped 8.7 per cent from the previous year, although this was due to the international financial crisis and not capacity issues. In 2009 Spain had 52.5 million international tourists and this rose again to the 60.7 million recorded in 2013. Unemployment rose in the tourist areas and the price of property collapsed, leaving many developments incomplete. Older hotels started to look shabby.

The final phase: Tourism on the costas continued to grow with the emphasis being on more upmarket developments and attracting more affluent visitors. There are attempts to clean up beaches in response to the EU Blue Flag rules.

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The overall growth of international tourism has already be discussed in this chapter. There has also been particular growth in ecotourism, sports tourism, cruises and niche market tourism.

Sports tourism: Increasingly, people are prepared to travel long distances to attend international sporting events. This provides income for the airlines and the hospitality industry in the host nation. For example, it was estimated that the 2012 London Olympic Games generated £10bn for the British economy and that tourists spent £2.1bn in London 2012 during the games. The investment in sporting facilities, transport infrastructure, housing and landscaping associated with these events can also trigger urban regeneration. In the case of the London Olympics, the Stratford area of London's East End was comprehensively redeveloped through the creation of the London 2012 Olympics site. The 2002 Commonwealth Games had a similar effect on the regeneration of the rundown Eastlands area of Manchester.

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Niche market tourism: Specialist tourism catering for specific interest groups is growing. Examples of companies include Ramblers World Wide Holidays, Track and Field Tours and Gullivers Sports Travel (a subsidiary of Tui). All the terms used to describe types of tourism are too numerous to mention. Many of them overlap and the definitions are often vague. Below are some examples:

  • Birth tourism, War tourism, Medical tourism

  • Sex tourism, Destination weddings, Educational tourism

Ecotourism: The growth of ecotourism has arisen out of concerns about the effects of mass tourism on the environment and communities. It has grown rapidly since 1980 and media coverage has made people more confident about visiting remote, exotic locations, often with groups of people from many different countries. It is not always easy to separate ecotourism from other types of tourism but its features include the following.

→ Green tourism, which aims to preserve the environment by managing it sustainably.

→ Some, but not all, ecotourism is related to ecology, such as game parks, nature reserves and coral reefs. This aims to educate people about these features and their conservation.

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→ It has the minimum effect on local communities.

→ It is usually in remote areas with low tourist densities.

→ It may be controlled by people in local areas.

→ Development is planned to fit in with the local environment and there is a balance between development and conservation. Although ecotourism intends to be environmentally friendly, many tourists take long-haul flights to reach the destination, with the associated environmental impacts on carbon footprint and noise at take-off and landing. Also attempting to achieve ecotourists aims may lead to a conflict between conservation and making a profit.

One example of ecotourism is South Africa's magnificent Kruger National Park. This area (the size of a small country) is carefully controlled for wildlife conservation and has accommodation lodges which operate on sustainable systems. The area first came under the protection of the South African government in 1898 and its development did involve the expulsion of some local communities. In 2002 it was linked with the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique to form the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park.

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Cruises: Cruising has become increasingly popular since 1980 with more passengers, ships and profits. Two cruise companies, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and Carnival Corporation & plc, account for about 70 per cent of the market. The average capacity of ships delivered in the 1990s was 1627 passengers but this has increased greatly. Royal Caribbean's 225 000-tonne vessels Allure of the Seas (2010) and Oasis of the Seas (2009) can carry over 6000 passengers. Ships cater for the mass market or the premium market, the latter having lower passenger densities on the vessels, for example luxury ships with a maximum of 500-700 berths. Cruise shipbuilding is dominated by a small number of companies including Norwegian-owned Aker Finnyards, France's Chantiers de l'Atlantique and Italy's Fincantieri. The main destination ports are in the Caribbean islands, Mexico and other Central American countries, the Gulf Coast of USA, the Baltic and Mediterranean. The American and Caribbean ports are prone to hurricanes (New Orleans was out of action for a year from late 2005 following Hurricane Katrina). Many of the cruise ship brands are also becoming increasingly involved in cruise port or terminal ownership.

River cruising is also becoming more popular in Germany and on European rivers as well as on the Yangtse River in China. Cruise ships often sail under foreign flags and are staffed with crews from LICs and lower MICs. This has led to suspicion from some politicians and environmental groups who believe that it is a means for companies to avoid taxes and regulation. Investment is being made by the major companies in waste-disposal and other environmental systems on board the newer ships.

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