Tourism and Economic Development in the Third World

Tourism and Economic Development in the Third World

Tourism, just like any other sector in a country, has the potential to boost economic development (Sinclair, 1998). It does not only create employment, but also contributes to formation of foreign relationships by the country. The tourism sector contributes to new working places in many ways, for instance, by increasing hotel infrastructure and increasing the need in travel drivers. However, this sector in developing countries is still passive, because most tourism activities in the third world are controlled by large international players in the sector. Thus, many developing countries have to develop under the control of international players. As a result, they cannot expand economically and will never develop if its progress entirely depends on multi-national tourism entities for business.

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Since the beginning of colonization of the third world countries, the colonizers wanted to change these areas according to their expectations. It means that they were in control of everything, leaving the colonized countries without the right for choice. During the early colonial times, the local populations were unable to pursue their own routes economically, because of the imposed restrictions. Similarly, the development of tourism sector in third world states was negatively affected by the western countries, which controlled almost everything about the tourism industry worldwide. Consequently, they dictated, where tourists could go, the rates and the facilities, which should be preferred by them, and the changes to be implemented by developing countries. It seriously limited the ability of the developing world to utilize its resources and features for the attraction of tourists’ attention. Therefore, it is the purpose of this paper to bring out the main reasons for the fact that tourism industries in developing countries have not been exploited fully. The paper will discuss control over tourists, tourist facilities, and means of transport among other factors that control the third world players in the tourism industry.

Factors Hindering Tourism and Economic Development

The tourism industry is a very viable route of economic development. However, obstacles created by the powerful individuals tend to lower its growth capability in the developing countries (Britton, 1982). There are several means, by which the developed world limits the tourism industry in these areas.

Political Influence

One of the obstacles is political influence, which negatively affects the growth and development of tourism sector in many ways. Firstly, the political class in the third world countries is influenced by their counterparts or interested parties from the western states (Marcus, 1981). These partners may volunteer to finance the third world politicians to influence their decisions. As a result, governments in third world countries make policies that favor of the developed world at the expense of local economic development (Marcus, 1981). It affects the growth and development of tourism sector in the third world states. Moreover, it leads to reduction in general rate of economic development, making these states unable to progress on their own.

Poor Contact with Tourists

The majority of tourists come from developed countries (Britton, 1982). Therefore, that developing countries have no contact with the tourists, hence they rely on developed states machinery to get the customers. Consequently, the latter regulate, through their direct contacts with tourists, where they would go or the kind of information about the destination. By the fact that tourism depends on massive advertisement, developing countries cannot market themselves outside the country without facing stiff competition from internationally established tourist corporations (Britton, 1982). This contributes to slow development of local tourism industries in the third world countries.

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Capital Constraints

Capital restraints, which are common for developing countries, also contribute to slow growth of the sector (Britton, 1982). The international tourism sector is massively controlled by large, financially stable companies. Therefore, they dictate policies on tourism, which should be passed. Moreover, these corporations dictate the kind of facilities that every country needs to have to accommodate international tourists, including highly rated hotels, airports, roads, and other facilities. In addition, large international companies own air crafts and ships that are used to carry tourists worldwide (Britton, 1982). Having such resources, the corporations get an advantage over the developing countries. Besides, by regulating the majority of the sector, these international companies dictate the number of tourists that visit the certain destination (Britton, 1982). As a result of massive control over traveler flow by the international entities, the developing countries have little influence on how their industry develops.

Civil Safety and Terrorism

Today, developing countries face the issue of political instability and threats of terrorism, which greatly limits the growth of the tourism sector (Bhattarai, Conway, & Shrestha, 2005). For instance, Nepal and Kenya were rising economically through tourism sectors, but internal conflicts and terror activities have significantly reduced this development. It is a common practice for the Western countries to issue travel advisories to its citizens not to visit certain countries. The fact that most tourists come from the developed world leaves these third world states with low or no visitors, hence hampering the tourism sectors and its contribution to the economy of the state (Bhattarai et al., 2005). Moreover, after terror attacks in the United States in 2001, it became difficult for people from this country to visit states suspected for being responsible of the issue (Bhattarai et al., 2005). The preceding could be argued, as one of the major reasons, why tourism industries in the third world states have been on a downward trend. For example, the flow of the US tourists to Nepal has significantly declined by over 60% because of political upheavals (Bhattarai et al., 2005). The same happened with tourists from the United Kingdom and Japan, who declined by over 40% and 60% respectively. Therefore, it would be hard for the third world tourism sector to develop, if it cannot get rid from the dependence on tourists from international communities. Furthermore, inability to develop local tourism by the governments of developing countries means that this sector will always be under the control of international forces.

Security plays the critical role in determining, whether the country’s tourism sector would be profitable and of positive impact on the economy (Bhattarai et al., 2005). As such, political instability will always detract the attention of tourists to the region. Consequently, the third world countries that cannot guarantee safety for the tourists, and are likely to experience serious decline in their number. A case scenario of such issue was Nepal (Bhattarai et al., 2005), whose assurances of tourist safety under civil wars still contributed to reduction in the development of industry and economy.

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Cultural and Environmental Concerns

There is a serious problem of threat to environment and local culture by the tourists. Most developing countries are facing the problem of conservative culture, which restricts the tourist activities (Varley, 1978). For instance, in Muslim countries, women are not allowed to dress in a certain way.  In addition, relationships between men and women are also considered private, while they are rather open in the western states. It may result in serious social and cultural conflicts between tourists and the local populations. On the other hand, there are environmental concerns that come with tourism. Some cultures are not environmentally conscious, hence tourists may seriously pollute the environment, if left unchecked (Varley, 1978). An uncontrolled flow of tourists to certain ecological areas would end up polluting the sites, hence leading to the requirement to regulate tourist activities in the area. Consequently, these cultural and environmental restrictions would interfere with the growth of tourism industry and its contribution to the economy.


Tourism is a very lucrative sector that has the possibilities of developing the economy of a country. It creates jobs, contributes to improvement in infrastructure, and development of other social amenities, hence increasing the level of economic development of a country. However, this sector is restricted in its development in the third world countries because of many factors. Among them are political influences from the Western countries, which affect the local governments. In addition, the significant capital is required to set up facilities, which would meet the global standards, and thus, international tourist companies are at an advantage over local tourism industries. Furthermore, the ability of international companies to influence both policies on tourism and the flow of tourists, puts the developing countries into a critical position, where they cannot control their local sector. Political instability and terrorism also affect the development of tourism in the third world countries as tourists’ safety cannot be guaranteed. Lastly, cultural differences and environmental concerns posed by tourism makes it hard for tourism industries in conservative third world countries to develop. Therefore, it is evident that developing countries should move from overdependence on international tourist companies to develop their local industry in order to achieve development of the economy and tourism industry.

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