Contemporary Issues in Tourism
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government views tourism as a sustainable industry and one of the major pillars of Hong Kong’s economy (2001). As the Government realizes that tourism (1995) is a vehicle for economic and social development, some proactive policies and contingency planes had been adopted to further strengthen and enhance Hong Kong’s capacity to be a key tourist destination. However, even if Hong Kong has been able to manage the tourism issues and problems well, there are still issues that they should consider so as to sustain the development of their tourism industry. Primarily, the main goal of this paper is to identify the contemporary tourism issues and determine how these issues affect both the community and the industry.
Five to ten years from now, tourism will be envisioned as an aspect in which progress is utmost. Many alternative tourism activities and programs are implied to drive this development. It includes movements of persons for essentially cultural motivations such as study tours, performing arts and cultural tours, travel to festivals, visits to sites and monuments in which all movements of persons satisfy the human need for diversity, tending to raise the cultural level of the individual giving rise to new knowledge, experience and encounters ( 2002).
In contemporary tourism, we have seen a development from mass tourism to alternative tourism, and this trend marks the changes from modern to postmodern age. The issue of mass tourism was criticized for its pessimistic impacts on environment destruction as was evident in the slow but sure change in the late 1970’s to the 1980’s, which saw the manifestation of alternative tourism (1998). However, it also recognized that such economic gains from the commercialization of tourism can directly or indirectly help in supporting the conservation missions of these tourist attractions. (1993) as well as (1995) raised a question which inquires into “ascertaining to whom the past belongs” associating it to the influence the conservation processes of tourist attractions.
Analysis of the Issue
As mentioned above, the contemporary tourism issue that should be given attention is the commoditization aspect and the destruction of environment. Commoditization refers to the social heritages that become or treated as a sanitized package offering and glorified version of cultural artifacts and experiences for public consumption just like a commodity. Tourism has been criticized for presenting the concept of heritage in exploitative manner in which commercial considerations outweigh the historical accuracy and value. In this sense, communization is argued to result to the static portrayal as well as “production of staged authenticity” which is popular in village folk museums, pseudo-festivals, trivialization, and mass-produced handicrafts therefore, highlighting the substitution, reconstruction, replication, reproduction, simulation, invention, and permutation of otherwise authentic artifacts ( 1993; 2000).
According to (1994) and (1983) a culture is said to be commoditized for tourism when the customs, rituals and arts are performed or produced for tourist consumption changing not only the meaning of cultural products but also the human relations between the producer and the purchaser, the history of these relations, and their ethnic identities (, 2000). Moreover, the commoditization of tradition as a tourist product can likewise create and perpetuate misinformation in the form of stereotypes, biased viewpoints, and prejudices since heritage tourism in particular often serves to facilitate the construction and dissemination of “hyper-real images” of the lives, cultures and traditions of host communities. On the part of the tourists, such involvement in the commoditization is inevitable in their quest to getaway from their routine life and to seek and be exposed to extraordinary and alternative environment, behavior and living ( 2002).
Tourism is regarded as the world’s largest industry in the 21st century. In this manner, more and more places especially like in Hong Kong have been able to use their natural resources and also their tourism development and creativity to make their regions or sites become the number tourist sites.
It was mentioned above that there are various issues that should be considered in the tourism industry. These issues may have positive and negative effect in the community and the tourism issues and problems as a whole. Tourism issue, if managed strategically and efficiently, it would likely to provide economic growth for the place.
First, the tourism issues if managed properly and solve efficiently may be able to enhance the employment status of people. Because of the large number of tourists, more individuals are needed for construction purposes to build more accommodations, restaurants and other infrastructure that will enhance the tourism ability of the area. In this manner, when these people are working, they will have a stable income which may help them avail the products and consumer goods in the market place. Hence, more demands are required which will basically permit the enhancement of the economy.
Further, the tremendous growth any trends of tourism in Hong Kong may have a tendency to attract more investors to invest in Hong Kong. To be able to invite tourists, a certain place must be attractive so place would be given the chance to improve more landmarks and other tourist-spots within the area.
Although, tourism issues may post significant advantages for Hong Kong community and tourism industry it also encompasses some disadvantages. One of which is the notion that there are some tourists which may cause pollution and can destroy the natural environment such as noise pollution and visual pollution from different infrastructure built for enhancing the tourism industry. In addition, reengineering of a certain place to build other buildings that will contribute to be one of the central attractions for Hong Kong is costly and that the funds that have been spent may have been better used for other needs of the place or the regions such as educational needs.
In addition, there are some tourists who do not respect traditions, customs and cultures, hence, will result conflict among tourists and residence. Another disadvantage of tourism is it may destroy the natural beauty of a certain place and it may provide the loss of open spaces for future needs. Crowding and congestion are also some pointed disadvantage that Hong Kong may experience due to the rapid growth of tourism.
With the issues and problems faced by the tourism industry, it is but necessary to address tourism issues accordingly. Tourism and the changes in the social, economic and cultural environment call for the necessary measures of proving otherwise the claims made in the previous researches. The challenge that confronts the people in the tourism issues and problems is how to manage their attractions grounded on the standards and ideals of the preservation of the historic context and integrity of promoting particular places and artefacts. This will not only uphold the quality of the services provided by the tourism issues and problems but will likewise serve as an excellent tribute to the history that produced our contemporary society. The conflicts which arise from differing cultural interpretation should be in the realm of constant evaluation and adjustment.
Moreover responsible and educational tourism involves social responsibility, a strong commitment to nature and the integration of local people in any tourist operation or development that meets the needs of present tourists, host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future. It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, and biological diversity and life support systems in which tourism products are operated in harmony with the local environment, community and cultures so that these become the beneficiaries not the victims of tourism development. Resolving immediately the differences that hinder the balance of cultural preservation and economic considerations in the tourism issues and problems should be the number one priority.