According tourism is tourism, where tourists pay tour

According to the World
Tourism Organization (2005), sustainable tourism takes care of the current and
future economic, social and environmental aspects of tourism. By doing this, it
takes the tourists, the industry, the environment and the host communities into
consideration. I used to think, that I knew something about sustainable and
responsible tourism, but I never thought of tourism as a very bad thing. Wildlife
tourism, and the problems it brings, was a familiar topic for me, but
voluntourism or slum tourism as harmful ways of tourism, had never occurred to
me. In this assignment, I am going to look closer into these ways of tourism
and learn why they are indeed considered to be more harmful than helpful, and
also how can I contribute to the tourism industry as a student, tourist and a
future tourism professional.

 

According to Annick de
Witt’s worldview test, I identify as the postmodern worldview. People with
postmodern worldview are aware that people have different perspectives, and
they know how to appreciate and respect them. According to de Witt, the
postmodernists value social justice, global environmental concern and care and
they also challenge the means behind the modern status quo. In this assignment,
I reflect my worldview to some important tourism issues.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

 

Slum tourism

 

According
to United Nations (2003,10), slums are “heavily populated urban areas characterized by
substandard housing and squalor”. Koe Koens (2018) from NHTV states, that
tourism in slums has been growing since the late 20th century. Slum
tourism is tourism, where tourists pay tour operators, so they can observe the
life of disadvantaged the townships. It is often thought to be very unethical,
because it doesn’t help the local township communities.  

 

I
used to think that slum tourism was acceptable because I didn’t realise all the
ethical issues that are involved in it. Many people want to visit slums because
they are colourful, authentic, vibrant and ‘reality’ (Koens, 2018).
Tourism hardly ever brings anything negative to the slums. But the problem is,
that it also doesn’t bring anything positive – most of the time. I changed my mind
about slum tourism after I heard the lecture of Ko Koens, who has studied slum
tourism since 1990’s. I used think of it as an unethical money grabbing, but it
turns out that it’s not as bad as I thought.

 

The internet is full of
articles, saying how slum tourism is unethical, poverty porn and nonbeneficial
for the communities. This is very interesting, because many have only positive
experiences from slum tours (CBL session 5.12; Koens 2018). Also, according to
Koens (2018), even though the local residents are apprehensive and skeptical,
they are overall positive.

 

The problem with slum
tourism is to find ethical tour operators. Many tour operators claim to work
with local residents and to give them part of the ticket revenue they are
earning. According to Koens (2018), it is very challenging to find a good
operator who actually works together with the locals and tries to improve
living conditions, because all the tour operators promise these things. As a
tourist, I think it’s important that tourists do their research well and choose
ethical tour operator. Also, the tourism professionals, should work to find
ways to make the ethical tour operators to be more easily identifiable.

 

According to Koens
(2018), slum tourism is seen as a commercial product that is created to please
the tourists. The financial gains are often very unequal, because the revenue
rarely goes to the communities. Slum tourism can though also help the local
economy, if the tour operators work with the local people and local small
businesses. As a tourism professional, the tour operators should work together
with the slum residents and also support the local projects. Slum tourism can
be done ethically if the tourists truly try to understand the slums, respect
the local residents and also further help with creating honest and positive image
of slums.

 

Volunteer tourism – Orphanage tourism

Volunteer tourism, commonly known as voluntourism, is a combination of
volunteering abroad and tourism. It is a way for individuals to assist in a
less fortunate community’s life by helping them. Popular voluntourism jobs are
for example teaching, building schools and providing leisure activities for
children. Voluntourism seems like an ideal way of spending a holiday – both
parties involved gain something good. But does voluntourism have a positive
impact on the host community in reality? (VolunteerToursimViews, 2013)

 

Voluntourism is one of
the most controversial issues there are in the tourism industry, in my opinion.
I have always thought voluntourism as a good thing, why would it harm anyone? I
have always admired people who go to Africa or Asia, or wherever, to help
people to access education, healthcare and other essentials. I have even
considered working as a volunteer myself.

 

Often the volunteers do
not have the skills that are needed for the projects. According to The Guardian
(2015), many organisations who organise voluntourism projects are profit
seeking agencies. People who want to volunteer need to pay large amounts of
money to be able to participate. These voluntourism agencies often work so that
they rather meet the voluntourist’s needs rather than the locals’ needs. This
leads to actions, where the volunteer is placed in a work task that would
require skills that the volunteer doesn’t have. For example, new high school graduate,
with no experience or degree in the English language, goes to school to teach
the children English. The same happens with healthcare and construction. The
lack of skills wastes resources and also causes issues. (CBL session 14.11.2017).

 

A large part of the
voluntourists volunteer in orphanages. According to Tourism Concern (2018),
many regard volunteering in orphanages as a “bucket list” thing that “makes a
difference”. This is especially concerning, because even though the numbers of
orphanages are decreasing, the number of orphans is increasing due to the
increasing demand to volunteer for orphanages. In the documentary film
#doinggood (2015), the film makers Loeke de Waal and Steffi Posthumus state,
that volunteering in orphanages is often doing more harm than good, even though
the volunteers’ intensions are good. The filmmakers also state, that the children
get easily attached to the volunteers who cause problems by leaving after a
short time. I believe that many of the jobs of the volunteers should be done by
the locals. The children in orphanages are better off with local professional
employees who can work fulltime rather than volunteers who do short-time
projects often with no skills or qualifications.

 

As a future tourism
professional, I am concerned about the volunteers’ impact on the host
communities. Tomazos and Butler (2008) state, that voluntourism may increase in
the future. So, volunteering responsibly will be an important issue to address
and as a future tourism professional, I think it’s an important one to be
solved. When voluntourism is put into practice as a form of responsible tourism,
it can show truly how tourism can improve social, economic and even
environmental issues. Many of the host communities have unemployed people who
would have the skills to do many of the projects better and more professionally
than the volunteers. It is important that tourism provides jobs, and doesn’t
affect the communities negatively. Like previously mentioned, it would be more
beneficial for the local skilled people to have the jobs, and the volunteers to
support them with their enthusiasm and skills.

 

If voluntourism is looked
at in Anna Pollock’s Iceberg View, voluntourism would be the event, the tip of
the iceberg. People do voluntourism because they want to help others in need. Often,
they don’t have the required skills, which is already previously mentioned. A
reactive way to respond to this, would be to ensure that tour operators stop
sending unqualified volunteers to the projects. People keeping up with
voluntourism, would become a pattern overtime. This would be, because according
to de Waal (2017), self-enhancement is often the core motive for voluntourism. To
react responsively, we should make sure that the voluntourists volunteer for
the right reasons. If they were internally motivated, I believe that they would
also be ready to get some training before their volunteering, if needed. There
are problems even deeper than motivational issues in voluntourism, especially
in the orphanage tourism. Pollock states that systemic structural causes lie
beneath the surface. According to Tourism Concern, many of the orphans who live
in the orphanages, are actually taken away from their families. This way the
voluntourism organisations can ensure that the orphanages have enough children
for the volunteers who want to come and help. A generative way to respond would
be to employ local full-time professionals, so volunteers wouldn’t be needed as
much.

 

Wildlife tourism

 

Wildlife
tourism is non-human based tourism, where the tourists encounter animals either
in their natural habitat or in captivity. Wildlife tourism can be passive
observing or various different active encounter such as feeding, killing and touching
the animals, and these activities can occur on fixed sites, tours, experiences
provided by tourism accommodations or unguided encounters independently
(Higginbottom, 2004).

 

Wildlife
tourism is a serious tourism issue, because many people do not realise the
impact it has on the animals. Wildlife tourism is indeed supposed to be wild,
and shouldn’t include any feeding, petting or any other unusual behaviour for
the animals. Simone Eckhadt (2017), the director of Stitching Spots, tells that
people often do not think about the living conditions of the animals or they
are told, that the animals who are involved in wildlife tourism are rescued and
they will be placed back to the nature. The truth unfortunately is that there
is no space for the young lion cubs, for example, and even if they were to be
put back to their natural habitat, they wouldn’t have the skills to survive. People
also do not realise the actions behind elephant riding or lion cub petting.
According to Mak (2017), TUI informs their customers about the shady side of
wildlife tourism in the booking process. I also believe that other tour
operators should provide information about their wildlife tours, and encourage
people to think the consequences the tours have. A better way to do it, of
course would be if tour operators would only work with organisations who are
providing sustainable wildlife tourism.

 

Wildlife
tourism affects negatively the animals involved. They are often treated badly,
and taken away from their mothers at a very early age. The animals live in
captivity and go through cycles. Newsome, Dowling and Moore (2005) state, that
wildlife tourism should be conservation supporting, rather than a way of
entertaining people in detriment of the animals. My friends have been to
sustainable wildlife safaris in Africa, where they were taken to an elephant
orphanage. People had the chance to see how orphanage or ill elephants were
treated, and they also had the chance to adopt an elephant and give the
orphanage monthly donations.  

 

In
my opinion, wildlife tourism can be managed responsibly and sustainably. According
to Responsible Travel (n.d.), responsible wildlife tourism is a lot more than
just observing the animals. Responsible wildlife tourism also educates visitors
about the animals, helps the visitors to understand the animals’ behaviour and
the conservation. I think it’s important for people to see the animals, so they
won’t feel disconnected with them. I used to love zoos and aquaparks but now I
think there are so much better and more informative observation options than
those. According to WWF Project Manager Jaap van Waarde, in Rwanda the locals
give mountain gorilla – tours in the gorillas’ natural habitat. The guides make
sure people don’t go too close and the monkeys see humans only a couple of
hours a day. This is a great example of how wildlife tourism can be well
managed.

 

It
has also been proven that when the wildlife tours take place in the animals’
natural habitat, people are more likely to give donations for the conservation
work for the animals (Lovelock & Lovelock, 2013). This would be a great
opportunity to get the animals out of unnecessary captivity and also give more
information about the conservation work and also raise funds for it.  

 

Conclusion

 

Slum
tourism is seen as unethical way to show tourists the area’s culture and
resident’s living conditions. If it id managed well, it can improve the area’s
economic situation and still be able to show the township’s way of life. For
tourism professionals it is important to make sustainable and responsible tour
operators more easily recognisable and tourists should be encouraged to choose
these tours. Voluntourism faces the same kind of issues than slum tourism. Tourists
are curious to see the way of living of the locals, and want to participate in
their lives by helping without realising all the harm it does. Voluntourists
should have the necessary skills so they can support the local professionals,
rather than take their jobs. Wildlife tourism, as well as the two mentioned
above, are benefitting by entertaining tourists in detriment of others. Wildlife
tourism should be executed by supporting the conservation of the animals,
rather than destroying their habitats and lives.

 

To
round off, it can be said that for all of its issues and solutions, tourism
issues addressed in this essay, are something of a double-edged sword. All of
the issues are found with non-ethical dilemmas and also ethical solutions. It
can be asked ‘is any tourism ethical?’. The answer in my opinion, is no. The
point is, though, to balance the positive and negative impacts of tourism, so
sustainable tourism can be executed. To find the solutions, the industry needs
motivated and educated professionals.

 

Sustainability
for me as a student, tourist and future tourism professional is very important.
With this module, my interest and concern for sustainability has grown
significantly. Therefore, I want to ensure that with my own choices, I can
affect the tourism industry positively. As a tourism student, I see that my
responsibility is to learn as much as possible about these topics. So, in the
future, when I work in the industry I can strive to improve the many difficult
sustainability issues that the tourism industry confronts. By learning about
these problems, I also widen my own world view and know how to make more
sustainable decisions when travelling around the world.