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An Overview of the Impact of Tourism on Host Society

An Overview of the Impact of Tourism on Host Society

Ankita Yadav

Research scholar, Department of Sociology, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221005


Received: 27 February 2024; Revised: 03 March 2024; Accepted: 08 March 2024; Published: 14 April 2024


Since ancient times, India has been a rich country, especially for their culture and holy activity. Travel has existed since the beginning of time when the primitive man set out, often traversing great distances, in search of a game that provided the food and clothing necessary for his survival. Throughout history, people have traveled for purposes of trade, religious conviction, economic gain, war, migration, and other equally compelling motivations. Nowadays tourism has become a global social and cultural phenomenon as people all over the world move from place to place, increasingly beyond the borders of their own countries. Tourism activities have an impact on the host society. According to Aristotle, ‘Human is a social animal by nature, along with Durkheim’s theory ‘The personality of Human beings is connected to their society’s norms and values, so in the process of tourism society gets affected. This paper aims to find out the socio-cultural impact of tourism on the host community and changes in social life through tourism. It is important to know the consequences of tourism on the ground level, and now it becomes a social phenomenon to study from a sociological perspective. This paper is based on secondary data and it presents a short analysis of this topic.

Keywords- Development, Host Community, Impact, Social Life, Tourism.


India is One of the oldest civilizations in the world and a mosaic of multicultural experiences. With a rich heritage and myriad attractions, the country is among the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It covers an area of 32, 87,263 sq. km, extending from the snow-covered Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests of the south. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity there are lots of tourist attractions that attract tourists from all over the world. India is a center of two ancient civilizations of the world called the Indus Valley civilization and the Aryan civilization in the early days. India is a country, where several historical rulers, legendary rulers, and warriors formed a magnificent historical background. Every city or place within the country has a story, which communicates relevant information in terms of its history. The Arthashastra also reveals the significance of the travel infrastructure for the state, the classification of routes, and the types of vehicles. This is a suggestion that there was a well-developed mode of travel in India for the military, the commercial traveler, and the civilian. In the early days, pilgrimage or pilgrim travel assumed major importance. Tourism played an important role in the development of Buddhism and Ravidassian. Nowadays Tourism is one of the few industries that generate a high level of economic output, with minimum investment, and has immense socio-economic development potential. Tourism is a most desirable human activity that can change the socio-cultural, economic, and environmental face of the world. Tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing industries in the world. It has the potential to influence the living patterns of communities. The social and cultural impact of tourism can result in changing patterns of behavior, lifestyle, and the quality of life of the inhabitants or local people. It is one of the most important channels of cultural exchange which breaks down the barriers between people from different parts of the world. There is a deep influence of tourists and tourism on the host community. Tourism is a genuinely powerful and unique force for change in the community. The most profound impact that tourism can have in the personal arenas of the private household, the domestic lives, emotional experiences, deeply held beliefs, and the moral fabric of the group of people who form the community. It is more apparent that social and cultural ideas influence the younger generation who have had direct contact with foreign tourists [1]. Tourism according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), ‘tourism comprises the activities of persons traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business, and other purposes [2]. Tourism is a product of capitalism and globalization and today it is the largest service industry in India.


Design means drawing an outline, planning, or arranging details. It is a process of making decisions before the situation arises in which the decision must be carried out. Research design is planning a strategy for conducting research. According to Henry Manheim research design not only anticipates and specifies the seemingly countless decisions connected with carrying out data collection, processing, and analysis but it presents a logical basis for these decisions.

William Zikmund has described research design as a master plan specifying the methods and procedures for collecting and analyzing the needed information. The design of this research is descriptive in nature. The method of data collection is mainly based on secondary data [3].

Socio-cultural impact on the host community

Tourism is a social activity that is done by the community where touristsare visited. There is a huge no. of industries included in the process of tourism as transportation, hotels, shopkeepers, etc, in short, we can see Durkheim’s ‘division of labour theory. A study byNoronha and De Kedt [1977] is also pointing the division of labour theory he describes tourism as One of the most ubiquitously noted effects of tourism on the division of labour, particularly between the sexes by creating new kinds of employment, tourism draws into the labour force parts of the local population previously outside it Specifically, young women who now find employment [4]. Tourism development could increase the chance for the local community to have better income by selling the handicrafts they create (Ningsih 2018). Today Tourism is the largest service industry in India with a contribution of 6.23 to the national GDP and providing 8.78 of the total employment. The Ministry of Tourism [1967] is the nodal agency for the development and promotion of tourism in India and maintains to ‘Incredible India’ campaign and another plan to increase no. of tourists in India. The main motto behind these plans is economic growth which will help us to remove major problems in our country like unemployment, poverty, hunger, etc but unplanned tourism growth can lead to negative outcomes and harmful influences not only destination environment but also on the social and cultural values of a community. As Jafari (1997) said, “Tourism is the study of a man who is away from his usual habitat, of the industry which responds to his need and of the impacts that both he and the industry have on the host socio cultural, economic and physical environment”.Tourism provides an opportunity to interact with a new culture and environment, in sociological terms, it is called ‘social interaction’. The impact of sociocultural on the host community is difficult to measure [5]. Smith (1980) points out that tourist engages in a form of relationship with locals which is called the host-guest relationship. Sometimes it can be related to the quality of life, norms values society models, infrastructure, health, and environmental damage.[6]The irritation index model of Doxy is a very important work in the field of the impact of tourism on the host community he gave four basic stages the first stage is when people of the host community meet tourists with euphoria. The second stage is when people become habitual and tourism becomes an economic activity or daily activity, he called is apathy stage. The third stage is the irritation stage in which people realize the negative impact of tourism on society and the environment. The fourth and last stage is antagonism in which the negative impact increases gradually and local people develop antagonism toward tourism [7]. although tourism is an important sector in the development of the economy and the industry is directly related to the society and environment.

Social-cultural Impact of tourism on the host community-

Clarke 1981, Greenwood 1972, and Jordan 1980 analyze that many researchers have noted the impact that tourism has on the rhythm of social life. Tourism is a highly seasonal activity that drastically affects agricultural communities and traditional ways of life.

Migration- Tourism produces new ways to earn livelihood and because of employment people migrate from one to another place, which is a major cause of migration in society.  Here it is important to point out the study of Noronha 1977 De Kadt 1979 Cohen 1983:  Tourism creates new employment opportunities in the host area and hence influences migration patterns in two principal directions it helps the community retain members who would otherwise migrate away, particularly unemployed or underemployed youths in economically marginal areas such as islands or mountains but it also attracts outsiders who are searching for work or economic opportunity and who often come from other branches of the economy, particularly agriculture. Thus, in mature tourist areas, tourism spurs urbanization.[8]

Maintenance of Infrastructure– Tourism plays an important role in maintaining and preserving the traditions and infrastructure of the host society.  when tourists visit any place, it creates additional development and maintenance of the place such as museums, roads, water systems, public toilets, parks, gardens, etc. According to Grzinic and Saftic (2012), some actions can relate a tourist to infrastructure as the Development of new accommodation capacities, upgrading existing accommodation capacity, development of the necessary infrastructure, development of transportation system, destination safety, and cleanliness. The tourism sector is a major contributor to the nation’s development and is spearheaded by the government’s efforts in investing heavily towards providing sufficient and well-functioning public tourism infrastructure. There are many programs organized by the Indian government as the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, PRASHAD Scheme, etc. Swadesh darshan scheme is introduced by govt. to develop 15 themed routes in India at different regional and national scales. It will help by adding crowd management at popular sites. PRASHAD scheme was introduced to define and establish sacred visitor sites it focuses on the concept of high tourism return and sustainability to improve the experience of religious tourism. There is the central agency for Assistance to tourism infrastructure projects- Central Financial Assistance (CFA) is provided by Central agencies like ASI, Port Trust, ITDC, etc for the development of tourism infrastructure.

Increasing Religious Activity– Religious tourism is a type of tourism, and it is, the oldest form of tourism (Rogerson, 2019; Rinschede, 1992). Tourism increases religious activity people can travel easily and perform a religious activity at any holy place or temple. MacCannell [1973] focuses on the deeper structural significance of modern tourism and identifies it with pilgrimages in traditional societies. Graburn’s (1977) paper, identifying tourism as a form of the “sacred journey,” brings the study of tourism even closer to that of the pilgrimage. As religious touristsvisit to perform any religious activity, they buy holy things like- flowers garlands, etc local shopkeepers and footpath vendors profit from it.

Cultural change and commodification of Culture– Tourism is a strong medium for cultural transformation and it can initiate irreversible change in the culture of host communities (Robinson,1998). Frequent contact between societies is one of the major reasons for cultural transformation. In this cultural transformation, tourism is viewed as an agent of cultural change (Pearce1995). Commodification refers to the use of cultural traditions and artifacts to sell and profit from the local economy. With the rise of tourism, authors argue that commodification is inevitable [9]. It helps the creation of businesses and jobs for local craftsmen, who can sell their goods to tourists, along with this positive impact, tourism is a cause of new diseases, such as “drugs, crime, pollution, prostitution, and a decline in social stability”.

Demonstration impact-Tourist inflow in a particular area gives the result of social influences from tourists on the host community. The demonstration effect argues that local inhabitants copy the behavioral patterns of tourists. Sometimes it is good for locals to improve their behavior and maintain a good status in society but somewhere they are losing their trueness and going through an artificial lifestyle. Moore (1995) defines the demonstration effect consists the host population’s emulation of behavior consumption practices of tourists who visit them.

Acculturation of another culture- Acculturation is a process in which an individual adopts, acquires, and adjusts to a new cultural environment because of being placed into a new culture, or when another culture is brought to you.[10] This is the situation when locals try to adopt any culture. Locals not only interact with tourists they also interact with their culture. In the process of tourism,the host society is affected by acculturation. The negative aspect of acculturation is losing the identity of the community, which is precious and the center of attraction for tourists.

Economic Impact of tourism on the host community-

Job creation-Tourism is one of the labour incentive industries it creates jobs for skilled and nonskilled laborers. The study of Noronha and De Kedt (1977) finds that one of the most ubiquitously noted effects of tourism is its impact on the division of labour, particularly between the sexes by creating new kinds of employment, tourism draws into the labour force parts of the local population previously outside it Specifically, young women who now find employment. The World Travel and TourismCouncil report of 2019 highlights that India has the strongest growth in the no. of job creation (6.36 million), followed by China and the Philippines in 2020 the tourism sector created 31.8 million jobs which was 7.3% of the total employment in the country. The tourism sector is expected to account for about 53 million jobs by 2029.[11]

Contribution to GDP- itcontributes 6.23% to the national GDP of India. According to the World Travel and TourismCouncil report of 2019 economic impact of India’s travel tourism GDP contribution grew by 4.9% which is the third highest after China and the Philippines. In 2020 travel and tourism industry contributed to the GDP of US$ 121.9 billion, which is expected to reach US$ 512 billion by 2028. The industry’s direct contribution to the GDP is expected to record an annual growth rate of 10.35% between 2019-2028.[11]

The increasing lifestyle of locals- One of the most important impacts of tourism is on the rhythm of social life. It gives many options for livelihood for skilled and nonskilled laborers. Through employment options, locals can get into any business and get a job for their livelihood. In the peak season sometimes, they get more profit and it can increase the lifestyle of locals.  Sometimes lifestyle of tourists can push locals to maintain their dressing style, living style, and different languages.

A good income source- People can earn from local specific famous products or any special art or crafts which is part and parcel throughout generations. It will help locals to provide suitable and profitable income sources. Along with it, locals can provide any new kind of service like adventure, light shows, traditional folk-dance shows, or any other kind of attractive activity that can entertain and provide good memories for tourists on their trip. India is famous for religious places so there is more possibility to start a small business with less investment.

Environmental Impact – The impact of tourism on the environment is one of the most important impacts. Although tourism is an important sector in the development of the economy the industry is directly related to the environment [12] Environmental impact could create better views in some areas but there is a negative impact on the environment which includes pollution damages the environment, problems in the maintenance of hygiene, and sanitation and the availability of water.[13] Tourism development can reduce the negative impacts on the environment It could be minimized by implementing education and training programs and monitoring their implementation for residents and visitors as well.[14]

Improve management and planning- various tourist places demand management and planned ways of growth like historical places, adventure spots, etc. Central Govt. local govt. private sector and businessmen play a role in management and planning. Govt. make policies or strategies to plan a smooth and planned tourism system and each sector follows and plays its role in the function of the system they grow and learn how to improve more and more in the business of tourism and get more profit for govt. as well as locals.

Pollution- tourism plays a major role in increasement of pollution in many ways. There is a carrying capacity for every tourist place and in the peak season uncontrolled tourism growth can lead to many environmental impacts but pollution is one of the main impacts of uncontrolled growth. Pollution can affect air and water quality, soil, wildlife, vegetation, and many more parts of the ecosystem. It can create pressure on basic local needs like energy, food, and other raw materials. Increasing tourists in specific spots will increase demand for accommodation to fulfill the need for more hotels and resorts will develop by cutting down forests and trees is directly leads to the loss of habitat of animals. There are many broad impacts of tourism on the environment that can be a severe problem for the ecosystem.


People from all over the world move towards India for Ayurveda, meditation, yoga, and to experience the rich culture and art of the country. That is why the tourism industry become a major tool of development it has the potential to generate foreign exchange, income, employment, and growth of local business in India. Emmanuel de Kadt (1979) outlined in his work that tourism in any region affects the people of that region socially, culturally, and economically and he also discussed how the benefit of tourism is distributed [15].

This paper is a short analysis. As we know every coin has two aspects, and there are both positive and negative impacts of tourism on the social life of the locals. Travel and tourism create 10.7 percent of the total available jobs and many more positive results. Moreover, it is a low-cost start-up industry because of the resources required for it, such as the sea, beaches, hills, scenic beauty, culture, food, etc. It is one of the major tools for developing countries with minimum investment and high profit in business. Tourism can also contribute to the proper implementation of development projects in any area or developed economically as well as maintain the infrastructure of the host community. According to Habermas ‘science and technology cannot diagnose the problems we have to innovate some new ideas for them. The government should implement plans not only for an increment of the tourism industry but also to take care of the negative consequences on local life. The activity of tourism creates major impacts and unplanned tourism growth can lead to negative outcomes and harmful influences not only destination environment but also on the social and cultural values of locals, we cannot prevent these but need to plan and manage to minimize the negative impact and accentuate the positive impact of tourism.


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