Tourism in Latin America: A Case Study of Sustainable Tourism in Mexico
There are many interesting arguments to justify negative impacts upon the Latin American region of tourism, arguing that it only creates complex social capital chains that only benefit globalization, local government and world trade. According to Robinson (2010) the complex networks of enterprise only serve to contribute to business wealth and not the wealth or health of people living in Mexico. The argument is that such actions like increased tourism impacts the culture and it region’s ability to remain sustainable without the industry. It creates highly complex economic chains that underserve the native population. It should be called Capitalist Tourism. Robinson (2010, p. 133) writes, “Tourism generates mostly low-skill, often menial and low-wage seasonal employment and is dependent on highly elastic and unstable demand over which host countries have very little control.” It creates an unfair disadvantage to the country’s internal systems while on the other hand, many believe this increases opportunities for growth and job creation especially in times of recovery experienced currently. Hitchcock, King and Parnwell (1993) surmise the impact of tourism affects both culture benefits and costs to the public policy as well as the economy. There are many consequences to tourism as an industry and this is happening globally, not just in Latin America as a result of diffused change. Eugenio-Martin and et al. (2004, p. 2) consider this business activity may benefit medium to low-income countries so they can grow into developed nations and tourism facilitates this action as a means of generating interest in culture, ecology and diversity as highlights of travel. They argue that such exposure may have a detriment to culture but it also exposes locals to education, which also increases quality infrastructure for the area as well as increases gross domestic product or GDP.
Still fascination with history, culture, music, food and art attract people to the country of Mexico because it serves to enrich the human experience and create interaction, connection and opportunities to learn. General notions of sustainability suggest how global interests in specific regions also relate to how people maintain culture, socio-economic standards and important resources like the environment and local ecology. Syed (2006) comments sustainability relies upon the actions of people and the connections made across borders regardless of culture and social norms. While this implies a certain element of globalization, it also suggests how cyclical sustainability can become within a service minded industry. The Global Sustainable Tourism Council web site maintains strategy toward influencing patterns of sustainable activities that work toward preserving local ecosystems, history and culture. Here sustainable actions are directly defined by maintaining local environments but also creating a mission for outreach, awareness and knowledge sharing. Sustainability can be defined by activities that preserve and maintain specific standards for these communities and partnerships with businesses that have matching values. Clearly sustainable tourism is needed to maintain the natural state, the resources and culture of Mexico. How does this take place in the middle of globalization and furthermore, the relationship between tourism and globalization cannot be ignored.
Globalization seems to reverse the activities of sustainability. Globalization creates networks and chains of activities that move resources and people from one place to another. These chains actively promote consumption, consumerism and locations defined by a melting pot of diverse people (Syed, 2006). However, there is correlation between the actions of globalization that also directly impact sustainability actually bringing areas of the world like Mexico to the global stage as a place of rich heritage and beautiful environments.
Travel is a great mechanism for enhancement of one’s personal view but it also has a dual impact upon the local region in terms of globalization, government policy and socio-economic change. Many experts see this as a double edged sword and just a result of natural progression because of man’s need to grow and see the world. One could argue this has been taking place for centuries starting with Columbus and globalization is just a product of this exposure and connection with others different from our home country. Interdependence upon these multi-national firms coming in to create business is possibly where the break in the chain results in negative impact. Torres and Momsen (2005, p. 260) describe the duality tourism creates, “In Quintana Roo, rapid growth of the tourism industry has reinforced existing unequal relations of domination and subordination, while also producing new social, political and economic hierarchies manifest in patterns of uneven development.” With that in mind, one has difficulty seeing a positive impact but also can see the vital connection tourism supplies. Further research into sustainable tourism for Mexico suggests correlative relationship between sustainability and global interest in travel that allows the region to spawn economic growth and potential areas of revenue.