Mass tourism over recent decades has had a profound effect on the countries that have suddenly welcomed increased numbers across their borders. The availability of long haul flights has brought many new countries into the minds of adventurers. There are positive and negative effects of tourism whatever the country, and broadly they fall into three categories:
There is no uniform answer to what tourism might mean but it is worth looking at these three aspects to see what the consequence might be for Cambodia as more people book Cambodia travel packages.
In economic terms, the revenue that tourism can generate are certainly welcome in Cambodia. Tourism creates jobs as well as increasing the number of people looking to spend money on local goods and services. It will lead to pressure on the local infrastructure however, and upgrading that infrastructure comes at a price. Jobs become available in many sectors of tourism; Cambodian travel agents, transport, bureaucracy and guides are just a few examples.
In rural areas, little has changed and there is little reason why it should. Life is still dependent upon a good crop and the ways that villagers ask for and celebrate a good harvest are showing no signs of changing. The family remains all-important with traditions of ancestor worship well ingrained in rural society. Tourism does not suddenly mean great riches for ordinary villagers and they are likely to retain such things as natural remedies that have looked after their forefathers; they come at a fraction of the cost of modern medicine.
Local communities should benefit from better infrastructure and tourists are likely to be attracted by local traditions; in the case of Cambodia that can be everything from festivals, song and dance to local handicrafts. The important thing is that tourists respect the customs and traditions of their holiday destination. Those who take a Cambodia holiday want to enjoy Cambodia as it has always been, not a 21st Century reinvention.
City life has naturally brought about some changes but many who return to their villages for special occasions are more than happy to immerse themselves in local traditions for the period of time they are with their families. Their links to their home villages are unlikely to be broken by their move to the City.
There is no doubt that today’s awareness of the environment and its protection is a positive yet it is important to take care that natural resources are protected and nowhere is damaged by increasing numbers of visitors. There is no real reason why Cambodia’s environment will be harmed by tourists. Those who enjoy travelling in natural places around the world are inevitably committed to their preservation. There is no real demand for more agricultural land and the ‘’wild places’’ should remain so.
Read more: Cambodia culture