Tourism is one of the world’s biggest and fastest evolving industries. Many people and even some countries depend on tourism to survive for example in places such as Cancun and Bariloche, more than 90% of the local people work on the tourism industry, in positions ranging from guides to cleaning ladies. The tourism industry has changed significantly over the past few decades, and I will analyze the main changes and the factors that led for this to occur. One of the main issues that affected tourism recently is the development in technology.
More specifically two areas of technology affect tourism, transport and communication. The development has been incredible over the past decades. With the revolution that happened with the appearance of internet, the tourism industry had to adapt itself to comply with the requests of the tourists. This led to the increase in the options for a holiday. For example tickets can now be reserved and bought instantaneously online, hotels can be booked easily and even other things such as car rentals can be dealt with instantly without the tourist having to leave his house to plan and arrange his whole trip.
This caused a major decrease in the amount of tourists going on package holidays, and tourists seeking to plan their itinerary individually, to best fit their own needs and preferences. Many traveler agencies went bankrupt and had to close due to this although this doesn’t mean that it is impossible to make profit with these agencies, although some changes have to be done to attract tourists. The internet also allows travelers to know more about the place they are going and to research easily the best places to visit eat and stay, as well as obtaining information regarding climate, driving instructions etc.
This causes what some people call “making the world smaller’ because it is much easier and quicker to communicate and to go to places on the other edge of the world than if was some years ago. Nowadays a trip that once took months can now be done in hours, and even more impressive, it is cheaper. The development in the automobile industry also made cars cheaper, making them more accessible for the people, and the development on the train industry allowed for people to travel nationally more often.
Billions of dollars have also been spent to improve and make new roads and bridges allowing people to easily go to places they would never imagine they could get to before. These advances helped to increase exponentially the number of tourists. An example of this is that in 1950 about 25 million people traveled abroad, by the mid-1990’s this number grew 200%, making a total of 500 million tourists. Just from 1988 to 1997 this number increased by 218 million people.
Another way this affected tourism is in the sense that now people have more choice and flexibility, allowing people to go to almost desert places instead of limiting them to the main capitals. This led to a general change in tourist’s destinations. There has been a reduction of the share of tourists that are attracted by regions in Europe and the Americas. These places are reaching a stage called stabilization on the Butler’s model of the evolution of tourist areas.
A huge expansion in tourism is happening in East Asia and the pacific specially places such as Thailand, New Zealand, Japan and Hong Kong. It is interesting to point out that each of these countries mentioned have a distinct major reason for this increase in tourism. In Thailand besides looking at the cultural background, many people are going there looking for sex tourism. New Zealand besides its beautiful beaches and mountains is known as the world capital for radical sports.
Japan has one of the world’s oldest and most distinguished cultures, and Hong Kong is becoming one of the most important economical capitals in the world, and many people go there on business. Many people are now looking for alternative kinds of tourism, and the two that are increasing the most are ecotourism and cruises. Ecotourism is growing unbelievably fast over the past few years and people are looking for places on the involvement stage on the Butler’s model.
People look for distant places in search for beaches and forests that haven’t been affected by humans. As this kind of tourism continues growing there is a bigger concern with the preservation of these places, so that there the environment isn’t affected by tourism. This has become a challenge to local authorities because in many cases there isn’t much being done to preserve the environment and therefore the tourists might make a large impact on it. Cruises are also one of the tourist’s favorite kinds of holiday.
One of the main reasons for this is that in cruises tourists can visit many different places at once, and only see the best of each place they visit. Besides this the cruises are getting each time bigger and with more luxury. The new cruises are as floating resorts, because they have everything a normal resort has, such as football pitches, swimming pools, casinos, theatres and many other leisure options. Another aspect that affects significantly the tourist destinations is fashion.
Places in fashion develop very quickly and receive a huge amount of tourists, but after some time the location becomes saturated and another place becomes a highly fashionable destinations. By the pleasure periphery model tourist’s destinations become each time further from the origin of the tourists, and this benefits small and local companies, whilst big transnational companies are jeopardized. Politics is also an important factor regarding tourism. Terrorism, trade embargoes and unions affect directly the amount of tourists a place receives.
In the USA the amount of tourists decreased tremendously after the attacks of September 11th. About 20% less tourists visited America after the attacks. Trade embargoes may also reduce the amount of tourist arrivals. Cuba for example had most of its tourists originated from USA before the Cuban revolution in 1959. After that the amount of tourist arrivals decreased almost to zero, and only around 1980 it started to receive tourists again, mostly originated from Canada and Europe.
Even today Americans that visit Cuba have to pay a fine to enter the country. Unions on the contrary increase a lot tourism in the locations. The European Union for example makes it very easy for someone from Europe to travel to another country member of the European Union, because there is no need for a Visa or any document to travel. Another example of this is the union between Canada and USA, in which flights originated from one of them to the other are regarded as national flights.
From the above I can conclude that the patterns of tourism are completely dependent and related to the world, and that any event that happen be it political, fashionable or technological, may affect the tourism industry. Globalization is also closely related to tourism, and the more globalization occurs the easier it is for tourism to grow. Different kinds of tourism are appearing and growing very fast, and ecotourism and cruises will continue growing and attracting more and more tourists, until a new kind of tourism appears and the cycle will start over again.