Tourism in an LEDC

Governments in LEDCs often see tourism as a vital source of income, which can be used for development, but tourism can create problems for host countries.

Tourism in an LEDC: advantages and disadvantages

A beach in Bali, Indonesia

A beach in Bali, Indonesia

Countries rich in physical resources – such as warm climates, beautiful beaches, rare ecosystems, and abundant plant and animal life – are often sought-after holiday destinations by people from MEDCs. Tour operators and developers invest in these locations in the hope that they will become as popular as European resorts.

Places such as Kenya in East Africa, where tourists go on safari, or Bali in Indonesia, visited for its beautiful beaches, all benefit financially from tourism. However, tourism inLEDCs needs to be carefully managed to prevent harm to the environment and disruption to local communities.

The effects of tourism on LEDCs

Advantages Problems

Foreign currency spent by tourists can be invested in improving local education, health and other services.

Profits go to foreign companies, such as tour operators and hotel chains, rather than to the local community.

Jobs for local people are created and people can learn new skills in tourism services.

Foreign companies may bring foreign workers to do the skilled jobs; so local people only do low skilled, poorly paid work.

Construction creates jobs and develops skills for local people.

House prices rise when foreign companies and investors buy property for hotels and holiday homes. This often makes houses too expensive for locals.

Local infrastructure is improved as water and sanitation facilities, roads, buses, taxis and airports are provided for tourists.

Important projects for local communities might be sidelined as infrastructure developments are focused on tourists.

Visitors get an insight into local customs and traditions.

If the aim of activities is to entertain, rather than educate tourists, this may belittle the local people.

Tourists see beautiful landscapes, wildlife and plants. They can also be educated about the dangers to fragile ecosystems in the modern world.

Pollution and disruption to wildlife habitats could occur if tourism isn’t sustainable.

Case study: conservation and management in the Serengeti

A lioness stands in front of a safari jeep

A lioness stands in front of a safari jeep

Tourism brings income to Kenya and gives tourists a greater understanding of the area’s animals and plants. The Serengeti is especially popular for safari holidays, which give tourists a chance to observe the annual migration of the wildebeest and zebra.

Tourism can also have negative impacts on the area. These need to be managed carefully to ensure that the natural environment isn’t damaged for future generations.

Positive impacts of tourism

  • Conservation – tourism has supplied the economic incentive to set up national parks and conservation areas which protect wildlife.
  • Employment – tourism has generated jobs, improving the living standards for local communities.
  • Infrastructure – roads, airports and other facilities have been built.
  • Investment profits from tourism have been invested in education and other programmes for local communities.

Negative impacts of tourism

  • Environmental damage – roads and tracks for safari jeeps can erode grass cover, damaging plants and animals and disturbing local habitats. The removal of trees and other vegetation for the construction of roads can lead to soil erosion.
  • Inequality – often the profits of tourism are reaped by wealthy landowners or the hotel and travel companies in MEDCs.
  • Loss of traditional cultures – the Masai’s way of life and traditional farming methods have been disrupted by the setting up of the Serengeti National Park.
  • Water cycle damage – diverting water for tourists can exploit local water reserves, leaving local people, plants and animals short of water. Tourist hotels sometimes dump waste into rivers.
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