The effect tourism has on the environment gets a great deal of attention since scenery is often what draws people to destinations in the first place. But it's also important to recognize how tourism impacts communities and residents. Before towns build hotels, restaurants, gift shops and other attractions to accommodate tourists, they're often farming villages or mining towns -- typical places with typical people. Tourism changes all that. Outside business interests buy up land for commercial and residential developments, eventually pushing farmers, ranchers and small business owners out of a job. New people move in, raising land value and changing the identity of the community. Locals soon find themselves living in a hometown they don't recognize.
Changes in a community's identity can often be drastic. A great example of this is Aspen, Colo., a town whose transformation was so dramatic that "Aspenization" has come to describe any uncontrolled, undesirable development. In the early 1900s, Aspen was a mining town on the verge of extinction. But after World War II, the ski industry took hold and Swiss-chalet-style resorts began popping up everywhere. Today, Aspen would be virtually unrecognizable to those who lived there just 60 or 70 years ago.
Some sections of the Great Wall of China are undergoing similar identity changes. At Badaling, a restored section of wall from the Ming Dynasty is almost completely overshadowed by the Western-style development that threatens to engulf it. There, you can ride toboggans or cable cars before sitting down for lunch at KFC and coffee at Starbucks. The development at both Aspen and Badaling are good examples of how the identity of a place can change as a result of tourism.
The other harmful effect of tourism on a community is that the cost of living can become very high. As a destination becomes increasingly popular, more people want to live there, causing the land value to skyrocket, as was the case in Jackson Hole, Wyo., a former agricultural town at the gateway to Teton National Park. When tourism first began to take hold in the 1960s, small lots were selling for $12,500, a high price for the time. But by 2007, the median home price hit $1 million, and the cheapest condo sold for an incredible $512,500. Many local residents who were priced out of their own community decided to relocate. Workers in the town's restaurants, hotels and ski resorts, many of them earning minimum wage, also found it impossible to live in Jackson Hole. This situation caused resentment between laborers and locals, and the newcomers to the town. Unfortunately, communities everywhere now have to deal with these issues as the tourist industry grows around the world.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- "2009-2010 Operating Budget." City of Gatlinburg. 2009. (June 21, 2010)http://www.ci.gatlinburg.tn.us/BUDGET/FY2010Budget.pdf
- Aspen Historical Society. "A Brief History of Aspen." 2010. (June 23, 2010)http://www.heritageaspen.org/story.html
- Cox, Christopher R. "Monumental Dilemma in Angkor." Travel and Leisure Magazine. December 2004. (June 23, 2010).http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/monumental-dilemma/1
- National Park Service. "Lechuguilla Cave." Carlsbad Caverns National Park website. March 25, 2009. (June 24, 2010)http://www.nps.gov/cave/naturescience/lechuguilla_cave.htm
- National Park Service. "The Future of Winter Use in Yellowstone National Park." Yellowstone National Park website. January 31, 2010. (June 24, 2010)http://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/winteruse.htm
- Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. "U.S. Travel and Tourism Industries: A Year in Review." U.S. Department of Commerce. 2009. (June 21, 2010)http://tinet.ita.doc.gov/pdf/2009-year-in-review.pdf
- Pumphrey, Clinton R. "From Sagebrush to Subdivisions: Visualizing Tourist Development in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 1967-2002." Master's Thesis. Utah State University, 2009.
- Research and Innovative Technology Administration. "Long-Distance Travel." 2001 National Household Travel Survey. 2001. (June 21, 2010)http://www.bts.gov/publications/highlights_of_the_2001_national_household_travel_survey/html/section_03.html
- Rothman, Hal. "'Powder Aplenty for Native and Guest Alike': Steamboat Springs, Corporate Control, and the Changing Meaning of Home." Montana: The Magazine of Western History. Winter 1998. (June 24, 2010)http://www.jstor.org/stable/4520089
- U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. "Tourism Sales by Commodity Group and Tourism Employment by Industry Group: 2005 to 2008." Industry Economic Accounts, Satellite Industry Accounts, Travel and Tourism. 2008. (June 21, 2010)http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/tables/10s1230.pdf
- U.S. Department of Commerce. "2007 Sets All Time International Tourism Record For U.S." March 10, 2008. (June 21, 2010)http://2001-2009.commerce.gov/NewsRoom/PressReleases_FactSheets/PROD01_ 005355
- Watts, Jonathan and Steven Morris. "Only One Third of China's Great Wall Still Stands as Tourists Take Their Toll." The Guardian. January 27, 2004. (June 23, 2010)http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/jan/27/china.arts
- Wrobel, David M. and Patrick T. Long, eds. "Seeing and Being Seen: Tourism in the American West." University of Kansas Press, 2001.
- Yardley, Jim. "Once Neglected, the Great Wall of China May Now Be Overloved." The New York Times. October 26, 2006. (June 23, 2010)http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/26/world/asia/26iht-wall.3674431.html?pagewanted =1&_r=1