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Positive and negative impacts of tourism

Positive and negative impacts of tourism

This article aims to explore some of the positive and negative impacts of tourism on the economy, infrastructure, culture, and environment of a country. Tourism is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. Mostly developed nations used to benefit from tourism in the past; however, developing nations are now-a-days becoming popular destinations as well. Tourism creates employment opportunities for local people and contributes to the GDP of a country. However, mass tourism (when large numbers of tourists go to one place) has both positive and negative impacts on the country.

Positive and negative impacts of tourism on economy

Tourism can have several positive and negative impacts on the economy of a country. For instance, it creates employment opportunities that benefit local people. According to the 2017 Economic Impact Report by the World Travel & Tourism Council, cited in Farr (2018), 1 out of 10 jobs worldwide is created by tourism. However, many jobs in the tourism industry have been criticised as they are usually seasonal and poorly paid. Many people engaged in this industry find themselves unemployed during the off-peak seasons.

There is no doubt that tourism generates money for a country. However, what is the percentage of a tourist’s holiday expenditure that contributes to the local economy? The answer is shocking, as according to the UNEP, for every $100 spent by a tourist on a holiday in a developing nation, only $5 stays in the host community. 95% of a tourist spending goes out of the country to overseas companies that are owners of hotels, restaurants, piers, and other facilities in the destination.

Global sporting events such as the Olympics, World Cup Football, World Cup Cricket, and others can benefit a destination by attracting the attention of global visitors. Large numbers of spectators visit the destination and inject substantial amount of money into the local economy. However, mega events often disrupt the day to day lives of local people.

Positive and negative impacts of tourism on culture

Both tourists and locals can benefit from each other culturally. Their mutual interactions offer opportunities for better understanding and removing any misconceptions and prejudices as in the words of the famous American writer, and humourist Mark Twain ‘Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…’ However, there is also a risk that both tourists and locals may hurt each other feelings due to a lack of understanding.

Positive and negative impacts of tourism on infrastructure

Through private and public initiatives, a destination may see a lot of infrastructural development. New roads, houses, hotels, restaurants, and other facilities are developed to cater for the needs of the visitors. However, mass tourism is often a cause of overcrowding and traffic jams that disrupt the lives of local people. Many attractions and the infrastructure of the destination may also suffer wear and tear due to heavy tourist presence and movements. Similarly, many local may be pushed out of towns or houses so hotels, highways or other industrial buildings can be built to support rampant tourism development.

Positive and negative impacts of tourism on environment

A host destination can spend money generated from tourism on protecting natural attractions. However, mass tourism has often been blamed for bringing damages to the natural environment in the forms of air pollution, noise pollution, footpath erosion, littering, and others (BBC, 2019). Likewise, unplanned construction of tourist facilities such as hotels, cafes, restaurants, etc. in a destination without appropriate provision for safe disposal of sewage, can damage the environment severely.

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Last update: 23 August 2019

References/Further reading:

BBC (2019) Tourism, available at: (accessed 22 August 2019)

Farr, L. (2018) Positive & Negative Effects of Tourism, available at: (accessed 20 August 2019)

Photo credit: Pixabay

Author: M Rahman

M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.

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