Essay The Cultural Impacts of Tourism on the Host Communities

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Pages: 5

The cultural impacts of tourism on the host communities

The impact that tourism has on the cultural lives of communities is one of the most important issues debated by tourism researchers and academics today. There is an increasingly growing concern that tourism development is leading to destinations losing their cultural identity by catering for the perceived needs of tourists.
Although they take longer to appear, the cultural consequences of tourist activity have the potential to be much more damaging in the long term than environmental or social effects. In many countries, tourists are not sensitive to local customs, traditions and standards. Offence is given without intent, as tourists are short-stay visitors carrying with them
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The ‘demonstration effect’ can become apparent due to the mixing of people from widely different cultures in tourist settings. Another example of this can be seen in western Amazônia’s Juruá Valley, most of whose tribes have had decades of contact with a non-indigenous society, the Ashaninka people of the River Amônia have been so besieged by visitors and journalists that they have resorted to virtually closing their reserve to visitors. The reason for the Ashaninka’s attraction is the photogenic ‘authenticity’ of their material culture; as opposed to neighbouring groups who have abandoned nudity for shorts and T-shirts, they still wear their distinctive kitarentsi robes. Few visitors are aware that these robes themselves represent a ‘foreign’ cultural influence; the Ashaninka copied them from the Incas, whose forest stronghold of Vilcabamba they helped defend against the invading Spanish.
So, as a result of the continuous intrusion from visitors, the tribes have discarded their traditional way of living, and conformed to they way the tourists live by wearing shorts and T-shirts. The host try to follow the values and aspire to the material possessions of their more wealthy visitors. This can lead to change in cultural values on the part of the host community; they want to change their traditional ways and live their lives