Social, Economic and Political Aspects of Tourism – Revealed!

These phases occur in parallel with economic and political change taking place in the country. Different countries of the world are at different stages of economic development and tourist generation.

The countries of the affluent economic core (mainly the continents of Northern Hemisphere) currently generate the vast majority of the world’s international and domestic tourists. Thus tourist generation on a world scale in heavily concentrated in Europe, North America and to a lesser extent, in the Pacific region.

The countries on the economic periphery (essentially the countries of South and South East Asia, Africa and Central and South America) play a relatively small part in generating world international or domestic tourist traffic.

Transport Systems:

How do transport systems evolve, to link tourist generation regions with the attractions tourists wish to visit i.e. their destinations? In general, transport routes and systems evolve, (or are planned) to enable three main types of tourist movements to take place:

(i) a flow of tourists to the coast. (ii) a flow of tourist to and between Urban areas, and (iii) flow of tourists from the towns to the mountains and countryside.

However, on both the national and international scales the overriding influence of the climate imposes a clear directional influence on these: tourists in the Northern Hemisphere tend to travel south, while those in the Southern Hemisphere tend to travel north, towards the warmer and summer climates.

World Geographical Units:

The world can be divided into four functional tourist regions which can be clearly distinguishable in terms of tourist activity (both in overall volume and directional flow) these are:

1. Europe and the Mediterranean basin

2. North America, plus Mexico and the Caribbean.

3. East Asia and the ‘Pacific and

4. South Asia, Middle East, South America. Subsaharan Africa.

The above regions are however, very large and cut across the boundaries of the continents and overlap the division of the world into the economic core and periphery. The world however, can be subdivided into the following manageable geographical units.

1. Europe:

(a) The Iberian Peninsula: Spain and Portugal

(b) The Balkan region: Albania, Greece and former Yugoslavia

(c) Turkey, Cyprus and Malta

(d) The Alps: Austria and Switzerland

(f) Central Europe: France, Italy, Benelux and Germany (g) Eastern Europe and the CIS is) UK and Ireland (h) Northwest Europe: Scandinavia

2. North Africa and Middle East, Subsaharan Africa

3. The Americas

(i) North America

(ii) Mexico and Carribean

(iii) Central and South America

4. Asia and the Pacific Region

(i) A’ strait and NewZealand

(ii) The Pacific Islands

(iii) East Asia

(iv) South East Asia

(i») South Asia The Lucian Subcontinent

Travel geography plays a crucial role in understanding clearly the distribution of tourism throughout the world and is a key element in planning and marketing a destination.

While seeking to describe and explain the spatial patterns of the tourist activity, it gives direction to planners and developers of tourism to utilize scarce resources in the best possible manner.

Welcoming Visitors:

A satisfied tourist is an asset and helps promote a destination in a much more effective way than any tourist promotional campaign or publicity. A friendly and appreciative attitude on the part of the nationals of the host country will make the visitor feel at home and help him enjoy his stay better.

The French government, for instance, regularly mounts a campaign to explain to their citizens the advantage to be gained from a flourishing tourist trade and the value of being courteous and helpful to the visiting tourist.

1. At each of the innumerable tourist places, one encounters friendly guides who answer any questions a tourist might have. Clear directions at roads, macro stations, shopping areas theatres and a host of other places make a visit of a tourist very comfortable and memorable. Many other countries including India have also launched similar campaigns for their citizens.

2. Establishment of Information Bureaus is another important step in the direction of welcoming a visitor. It is very necessary to have information bureaus where the foreign visitor who is unfamiliar with the country or a resort in a country, and who perhaps is not familiar with the language of the country, can readily acquire information about places of interest and the various facilities available there.

3 Trained and competent guides familiar with the tourist’s language are also essential and are a great help to the tourist.

4. The various formalities to be completed by the tourist should be reduced to the minimum. The United Nations Conference on Tourism held in Rome in the year 1963 had recommended the gradual elimination of all barriers, restrictions and formalities to facilitate international travel, in fact, some countries have already gone a long way towards abolishing certain formalities for visiting tourists resulting in increased facilitation.

Many countries in Western Europe have abolished the system of visas between themselves and have done away with entry permits for nationals of all countries on a unilateral basis. Apart from certain essential formalities such as health, customs and currency restrictions, it is desirable that formalities should be reduced to the minimum.

Modern tourism has had spectacular growth especially since World War II. From 25.3 million international tourist arrivals in the year 1950 the figure went up to over 380 million in the year 1988. According to the most recent estimates produced by the Secretariat General, World Tourism Organisation, International tourist arrivals in 2000 are expected to total 715 million.

While economic and political conditions may continue to fluctuate throughout the world, there is every reason to believe that more and more people throughout the world will continue to travel.

Tourism has become an irreversible fact in most parts of the world, and the expected upturn in overall economic growth, together with success in stabilizing prices is likely to promote further increases in international tourism demand.

With the expanding right to paid holidays and the irreversible increase in travel for cultural purposes, the number of persons taking to travel is bound to increase. As a result of labour legislation in various countries introducing paid holidays, over 750 million workers and their families have acquired a right to travel.

However, not all of them are able to exercise the right to because of non-availability of sufficient facilities and increasing prices. However, a vast potential exists which needs to be exploited by those responsible for tourism development and growth.

Social Tourism:

In many countries especially in East Europe and CIS, the state plays leading role in promoting tourism for their citizens. In these countries, the government provides relief to their citizens by way of giving them a holiday as a reward.

In fact, in some countries of Eastern Europe there are government policies whereby the State provides a holiday to everyone. In Russia the worker knows in advance when and what type of holidays he is entitled to. In fact, social tourism can be said to be a form of tourism whereby the State renders facilities to its citizens to engage in tourism.

General Concept:

Although there is as yet no agreed definition of social tourism, there has been a considerable study on the subject. Dr. W. Hunziker at the second Congress of Social Tourism held at Vienna and Salzburg in Austria in May 1959, proposed the following definition.

“Social tourism is a type of tourism practised by low income groups, and which is rendered possible and facilitated by entirely separate and therefore easily recognizable services”.

Another recent definition, propounded by M. Andre Poplimont, is as follows: “Social tourism is the type of tourism practised by those who would not be able to meet the cost without social intervention, i.e., without the assistance of an association to which the individual belongs.”

From these definitions of social tourism it is clear that it has certain elements. The first is the idea of limited means. Manual workers are thus included in the scope of social tourism. In addition to manual workers there are also others who cannot save enough to pay for travel and accommodation because their incomes are too low or their commitments too great.

On the whole, however, the majority of such tourists are manual workers. Secondly, social tourism is subsidized. The subsidies may be provided by the states, local authorities, trade unions, employers, clubs or other associations to which the worker belongs. Thirdly, it involves travel outside the normal place of residence, preferably to a different environment.

Concept of Paid Holiday:

The element of limited means is most important. Social tourism as we have seen is concerned specifically with the participation in tourism of people with limited means and with the measures to encourage this participation and to make it possible.

In fact, it may be correct to state that the establishment of annual paid holidays in the west heralded the birth of social tourism. Social tourism as we understand it today, in fact, owes its origin to annual paid holidays.

The concept of annual paid holidays was established during the inter-war years as a reality for a considerable part of the working population. By the year 1939, in UK alone, some eleven million people were covered by the Holidays with Pay Act (1938).

The paid holidays provided both the leisure time and the financial means to profit from it by travel and relaxation. Since paid holidays were introduced, thousands of millions have benefited from them.

Paid holidays now have universal recognition and are established all over the world, and in most countries a minimum duration (one, two or three weeks) is specified either by law or by collective agreements.

Today it is recognised that in Western Europe the fifth week, even from the standpoint of output may also be regarded as a productive investment. Sweden recently enacted legislation introducing this additional week of paid holidays.

Role of State in Promoting Social Tourism:

A number of countries in the world have special schemes whereby youth, workers and other groups, economically not affluent, are offered concessions and facilities for travel.

In some countries, such as the Russian Federation, workers are enabled to travel as tourists and some countries offer holiday coupons, holiday cheques, and leave of absence vouchers, to their staff. Many firms offer paid excursions, study trips and entertainment facilities to their staff.

For a growing number of enterprises the cost of leisure activities has become an integral part of a wage structure based on the need to supply employees with certain minimum social benefits. Some governments have enacted special legislation on social tourism, directed mainly to:

(i) Holidays for certain groups of workers, especially the young;

(ii) Assistance in creating suitable accommodation facilities;

(iii) Holiday financing; and

(iv) Special incentives.

Most of these benefits, however, are available to the workers in the developed countries. Workers in the developing countries do not enjoy benefits to such an extent such benefits depend on the state of the economy of a particular country.

Although many individuals and groups with whom social tourism is concerned are often identified with manual workers, and social tourism is often identified with workers’ travel, it is neither exclusive to them nor confined to them.

Many manual workers do not have limited means and there are many non-manual employees on the other hand of limited means, particularly where families are concerned. The concept of social tourism, is therefore, largely based on subsidies, special facilities and other measures, sometimes of a cooperative nature, sometimes by state or another third party.

Social tourism in the broadest sense, therefore, involves chiefly the extension of reasonably priced international travel to the widest possible circles.

This can be achieved most effectively through co6peration with organizations which by their nature are already committed to the development of social tourism, such as trade unions, cooperatives, workers’ educational associations and certain types of youth organizations.

The social scientists who forecast the nature of society in the future seem to indicate that all modern countries are progressing towards lifestyles which favour the growth and development of tourism. Increasing number of young people all around the world are participating in tourism.

Those in their teens and twenties tend to be more venturesome and willing to travel to places all over the world. They also use means of travel which, perhaps, the older persons would not favour, such as hitch hiking, staying and eating at youth hostels, or other low-priced accommodation.

Several factors are responsible for the increased interest in tourism, namely the rising standards of living, technological improvements resulting in increased productivity per worker, increase in leisure time with decrease in work-week, and longer vacations.

Changes in the age compositions in the population, the increasing levels of educational attainments, better communication, increased social consciousness of people relating to the welfare and activities of other people throughout the world, and the shrinking of the world by fast jets, have all combined to produce a greater interest in travel.

Domestic travel within all countries has also been increasing and the above mentioned sociological, economic and technological changes likewise favour this type of travel.

The role of travel to increase understanding and appreciation among peoples of the world is very significant. It has a great educational value.

Realizing the tremendous social benefits which accrue due to tourism, government policies in progressive and enlightened nations encourage travel, particularly domestic travel as a means of acquainting the citizens with other parts of their country and creating an appreciation for these.

The importance of tourism was acknowledged formally when the XXI United Nations General Assembly designated 1967 as the ‘International Tourist Year a unanimous resolution recognizing that tourism is a basic and most desirable human activity deserving the praise and encouragement of all people and all governments.

Domestic Tourism:

While discussing the tourism phenomenon, the emphasis was only on international tourism, its meaning, components, elements and significance. However, one of the important elements of tourism is the subject of domestic tourism.

A distinction is drawn between domestic or internal and foreign or international tourism. In domestic tourism, people travel outside their normal domicile to certain other areas within the country as contrasted with travelling outside the boundaries of the> country as in international tourism.

The basic difference between domestic and international tourism is that of jurisdiction of travel. The tourist activity of residents of a country within their own country, which does not cross the boundaries of the country, is thus described as internal or domestic tourism.

Because the travel takes place within the limits of the boundaries of a country, the various travel formalities which are necessary in international tourism are not observed in domestic tourism. Travel thus is an easy affair.

The barriers of currency exchange, language, passport, visa, health documents, etc. are not to be faced by a domestic tourist. A tourist’s own language serves as a medium of communication. The currency which they use in their everyday transactions continues to be the medium of exchange.

Presently there exists no generally accepted definition of the term ‘domestic tourist’. The domestic tourist is generally regarded as a person travelling for a purpose other than exercising a gainful activity or settling at the place visited.

The XXIII General Assembly of IUOTO held 111 Caracas, Venezuela in October, 1973 recommended that a study should be canned out at the international level with a view to arriving at a standardized definition of domestic tourism. The following definition was put forward by IUOTO in 1974-75. This however was not adopted as an official definition but merely as a basis for discussion.

For statistical purposes, the term ‘domestic tourist’ designates any person who travels within the country where he resides to a place other than his usual place of residence for at least twenty four hours or one night, for a purpose other than exercising a gainful activity and which may be classified under one of the following headings:

(i) Leisure (recreation, holiday, health, study, religion and sport).

(ii) Business, family, mission, meeting.

There is not yet any internationally accepted definition of domestic tourism. However, three elements are tommon to the definition normally in use. These elements are: (i) Place of residence; (it) Geographical setting of travel; and (iii) Duration of travel. With regard to place of residence most countries regard domestic tourism as travel by a country’s residents within that country.

The geographical setting is the national territory. Duration of travel is an important element in a number of definitions. The unit most often mentioned is the night spent at an accommodation establishment.

By analogy with the accepted definition of’ international tourist’, the domestic tourist is one who spends not less than twenty-four hours or makes an overnight stay away from his usual residence.

Two further elements are common to most definitions of domestic tourism. These are as follows: (i) Distance travelled; and (ii) Travel motivation. With regard to distance travelled, some countries specify a minimum distance in their definitions.

The distance may vary between 25 and 100 miles (between 40 and 160 kilometers) approximately. The concept of the travel motivation is considered important by most countries.

The domestic tourist is generally considered as a person travelling for a purpose other than exercising a gainful activity at the place visited. Sometimes, domestic tourism is considered as including holiday or leisure travel only.

Eco Tourism:

Under this concept, tourists are taken to national parks, bird sanctuaries, and wild life sanctuaries, natural habitats of local tribes and backwater areas of a particular region. These tourists enjoy being the lap of nature.

They spend money on such regions/parks; a part of these funds is spent on the upkeep and development of these natural regions/parks. Tourists are allowed to swim, dive into water, use pedal boats, float through kayaks and enjoy the natural environment of jungles. But they are not allowed to pollute waters of rivers and lakes.

They cannot kill wild animals of the sanctuaries visited by them. They are also not permitted to ignite fires in jungles, lest these fires should engulf those jungles. Tourists are informed about the benefits of preserving the fauna and flora of the tourist spot visited.

Forests, swamps, rain forests, rite beds, lakes, hills, natural ponds and various types of bird/animal sanctuaries are visited under this concept. A visit to Kaziranga National Park (tiger sanctuary) is a delight for tourists. It is located in Assam.

Rural Tourism:

In this concept, tourists are taken to such rural areas as are fresh, untouched by materialism and very natural. Rural; tourist spots are the showcases of our centuries-old culture. Many urban dwellers want to get away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

They seek relaxation and lonely environs. They can get both of these in the serene surroundings of a village. So, many of tour operators send such tourists to remote villages. These villages have hovels, chapels and other attractive areas that are sans artificial veneers of urban life, though these may be crude.

Tourists visit these typical places of villages and become rural folk for “a few days, literally. They also visit fields along with villagers (local residents) of those villages that are visited by them. They try to know more about the rural ways of Indian living during their stay in the village.

Many foreigners live in rural areas of UP for month’s altogether. Many of them stay in the makeshift huts near vast fields. In the evening, these tourists enjoy the hospitality of villagers.

The cuisine is typically Indian and in many cases, it may lack some basic elements like cleanliness, cutlery or other such things as are available in a professionally managed hotel. But the taste of this food is divine, according to many foreign tourists visiting India.

Lack of facilities in villages does not dissuade these foreigners from undertaking rural tours and interacting with local villagers. This type of tourism is growing at a fast pace in India. It has not beery observed in other parts of the world. Example: Tourists from the USA may visit the remote villages of UP and stay in those villages for 10-15 days at a stretch.

Agricultural Tourism:

This type tourism activity is conducted for those tourists who are interested in agriculture, farm management and animal husbandry.

These tourists could be students of agriculture, engineering, agriculture sciences, veterinary medicine, farm management, dairy research and other such branches of education as are directly or indirectly related to the field of agriculture.

The idea behind this concept is to educate these professionals in the techniques and concepts related to agriculture. But these are tourists and not students in the real sense of the word. So they would assimilate only the general concepts that are described to them at the tourist spot.

They would also visit farms/fields in rural areas and see how villagers grow crops, add fertilizers to the soil, irrigate their fields and finally, reap their harvests These tourists also live in villages for a few days and mingle with the local rural populace.

Cite related to crop yield, irrigation, agricultural implements and various farm practices are exchanged. These tours are useful in the sense that rural people and students of various sub-streams of agriculture learn new methodologies to improve agricultural production and technologies prevalent in a particular region.

Foreigners also visit rural areas to have a glimpse of the agricultural practices of a region or state. Students and teachers of Haryana Agricultural University (HAU), Hisser may visit the rural areas of Kolhapur to find out why the farmers of that district of Maharashtra are shifting to sericulture and moving away from their traditional occupation, cultivation of sugarcane.

These visitors always enjoy the hospitality of the farmers of Kolhapur and at the same time, learn a lot about sericulture.

Farm Tourism:

It is somewhat similar to agricultural tourism. However, farms are slightly different from other fields. In urban areas, there is a trend of constructing walls around fields and manage those field (which are small pieces of land) on a professional basis.

These farms are beautifully decorated despite the fact that their chief products are fruits, vegetables and orchids.

In fact, the owners of these farms develop these for the purpose of relaxing during the weekends. Their employees grow crops, fruits vegetables and flowers and sell these in open markets. So, owners earn profits while their employees also stand to gain.

This concept slowly became a luxury concept during the early eighties of the last century. In Mehrauli and on Delhi-Gurgaon road, several rich people purchased Fife plots of Land. They converted them into farms. In fact, a few of these farms can be likened to paradise.

Tourist organizations of India interacted with these farm owners and created a new concept. Under this concept, these tourists were taken to these farms and bestowed the best in terms of food, liquor and hospitality.

Within a farm, a liquor bar and club can also be seen at many places. Such facilities attracted tourists who wanted to go away from the urban settings and relax in the lap of nature. Such farms have also mushroomed in the hilly regions of India.

In Europe, these farms are being constructed around old historic castles/forts. Fees of one night’s stay are very high in Europe. The Indian farm rendezvous has only started and rates of one night’s stay are very reasonable in the outskirts of Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Chandigarh and many other cities of northern India.

But farms on the outskirts of Bangalore are one of the costliest prepositions for tourists. The government has not allowed the farmhouses in and around Delhi to be used as commercial spots or tourist destinations.

It has also not allowed hotels or restaurants to use these areas as banquet halls and party spots. However, raspy of these farmhouses are operating under the guise of personal meeting points.

A tourist from the UK may visit a privately owned farm on the Delhi-Gorgon road and stay there for 2-3 days. The travel agency makes such types arrangements for its clients.

Green Tourism:

Under this concept, tourists are not allowed to spread filth and waste material like polythene bags, tires, other bio-non-degradable solids etc. They are encouraged to use eco-friendly products like recycled paper, leaves of tress, wooden chairs and tables and bamboo huts.

They are requested not to pollute the air by burning fuels such as petrol, kerosene, diesel etc. Instead, they are encouraged to use solar panels, electricity and DC-operated equipment that can be charged with the help of sunlight.

Hence, they are motivated to preserve the natural beauty of the tourist spot visited by them. They are told to misuse or degrade it to the minimum possible extent. If there is time, these tourists also plant trees and take part in such activities as promote the well being of the fauna and flora of that tourist spot (or region).

Production of harmful gases like NO,, S02, CQ, CO, is discouraged. Waste products are recycled in hotels, restaurants and bars to the maximum possible extent. Further, some tourist spots are got cleaned by these volunteers (who are tourists); these spots may have become too dirty to visit due to the incessant inflow of tourists.

Mountain climbers, who try to scale Mount Everest, clean the passage to the summit. They remove oxygen cylinders, polythene bags, medicines, packets, water bottles and other pieces of garbage that were thrown by tourists or climbers.

Till date, tonnes of garbage have been collected so far by several hundreds of volunteers and mountaineers.

Note that regular ‘attacks’ on the highest mountain peak of the world are posing a tin cat to the environment of the entire region around it. Such cleaning exercises are being carried out to protect this region from a natural disaster.

Wilderness Tourism:

Under this concept, tourists are taken to remote areas, which are faraway form human settlements. These tourists want to enjoy the loneliness in the environs of such destinations.

Deep gorges, high mountains, remote and hot deserts, wild seas, rain forests, swamps and uninhabited islands are in the wish lists of many tourists of the globe. These tourists want to enjoy the eerie silence of nature at these tourist spots.

They also want to indulge in rock climbing, water rafting, and white water rafting, parasailing and swimming at these spots. Many men and women are adventurous by nature. They want to test the limits of human endurance.

That is the reason why many of them go ahead for bungee jumping despite the fair that it is a risky business. We can keep wilderness tourism and adventure tourism on the same footing.

There is no difference between these two categories of tourism and the guiding philosophy behind these two is-tingles your innate senses and fears to the maximum possible extent. Tourists enjoy the wilderness of Tibet and Ladakh and.

They remain in dry and icy mountains of these regions for many days and then, return to Leh, the capital, city of Ladakh.

Countryside Tourism:

Under this concept, tourists are taken to vast landscapes, green pastures steppes and rural areas. The tourist resort heritage village at Mansard near Delhi is an example of such type of spots. All the facilities-hotel, transport, communication and entertainment are available at this tourist spot.

In rural tourism, however, such facilities are either not available or are available only to a limited extent. Several hotel chains have developed countryside resorts in semi-urban and rural areas of India.

These resorts, offer sauna bath, parks, theme parks, pool, putting greens, bars and other facilities of recreation.

These resorts are normally located at a distance of 30-70 km from a major city or town. Tourists may visit Langkavi Island in south-east Asia and enjoy its environs. They can also visit this island by a cruise ship.

Special Interest Tourism:

Some tourists may be keen to know about the history of the region visited by them. Others may be keen to learn more about the archeological findings of a new (historical) site. Some others may be keen to know about diamond polishing and manufacture of jeweler.

Some tour operators group those people who have the same interest (or tour concept). These tour operators send this group to such places as would fascinate the members of this group. Special interest tourism can prove to be a costly venture, especially if the sites to be visited by tourists are far and few (and located at distant places from one another).

Some tourists, however, do not bother about the costs as their research projects (or curious nature) force them to undertake such special tours. Many travel agencies also couple the dates of seminars/conferences with the tour itineraries of their clients.

These clients attend such conferences/seminars during the morning hours of the day. Later, they visit the city during the second half of the day only or for a few hours. Then, these tourists fly back to their respective countries. Historians may visit temples of Jammu.