Tourism is the worlds largest and fastest growing industry. In recent years there have been increases in international tourism for the purpose of experiencing another culture. There is a wide-spread opinion that the economic impact of tourism is always positive while the social and environmental impact is always negative. Indeed, increasing incomes to regions due to tourists are easy to see as well as numerous host-tourist conflicts and destruction of the environment and local cultures. However, tourism can have both positive and negative outcomes for residents in communities when sharing and preserving their culture and nature could be seen as conflicting goals. (Besculides, Lee, McCormick, 2002:303) In this paper I will consider impacts of tourism with reference to the Lofoten Islands. This is a popular tourist destination in Northern Norway. The area is unique because of its nature and variety of sea activities, e.g. fishing, boat trips, sailing etc. It is also known in Norway as a traditional fishing community, where the fishing industry dominates the economy and the social life of the local people. Today those resources which used to be source of living for the local community have become very attractive for tourists. It is a challenge to get most profits of the situation and avoid possible conflicts.
2. Economic impacts of tourism
According to recent statistics, tourism provides 10 percent of the worlds income and employs almost one tenth of the worlds workforce (www.investigate.html). By the year 2010 these numbers will double. All considered, tourisms actual and potential economic impact is astounding. Many people emphasise positive aspects of tourism as a source of foreign exchange, a way to balance foreign trade, an “industry without chimney” in short, manna from heaven.(L.van den Berghe, source unknown) But there are also negative sides of tourisms economic boom for local communities:
Economic impacts to the local community depend on how much of the incomes generated by tourists go to the host communities. In most all-inclusive package tours more than 80 percent of travellers fees go to the airlines, hotels and other international companies, not to local businessmen and workers (www.ecotourism.org).
Large hotel chain restaurants often import food to satisfy foreign visitors and rarely employ local staff for senior management positions, preventing local farmers and workers from reaping the benefit of their presence.
Resorts and hotels often over-consume natural resources like water and power, forcing utility prices up and causing blackouts and water shortages for locals.
Many tourists never leave the hotel grounds or cruise ship, reducing the possibility of tourist income for local businesses. “Rug sack tourists” have little effect on host communities as they consume very little during the trip.
Faced with limited economic prospects, locals lose the incentive to preserve and conserve their natural and cultural resources.
Sometimes the costs connected with tourism overcome the incomes that tourists generate. For example, in all-inclusive packages, as I have said, most of the expenditures go to the airlines, hotel chains and touroperators, while the local communities have to work with pollution and destruction in their region caused by tourists. As a result, it costs a lot for the local communities to preserve the nature and the cultural monuments in the region while a good deal of incomes flow out of the host-region.
With reference to the Lofoten Islands the question is how the fishing society can get the most of the tourism industry, and whether the local people can get positive economic effects out of the developing tourism in their region.
Here is a figure showing relationship between tourism and local community based on economic impacts.
How much income does tourism give to the local community?
How much resource does tourism use in the area?
A lot of
A lot of
Fig.1 “ A general model of the local communities opinion about tourism” Rønningen 1996
Kilde: Kulturturisme. Lofoten som reiselivsattraksjon. Hovedfag.PDF, www.nhh.no/geo/prosjekt/kbl/r200rapport.pdf
The figure shows 4 types of economic impacts of tourism, based on the coming incomes and the use of resources. No community would want tourism that uses a lot of resources in the area but leaves little money to the local population. Such tourism can be called undesirable. Communities can put up with tourism that gives tem a lot of incomes but also uses a lot of resources. It is the so-called acceptable tourism. In case when the use of resources is little and the incomes to the region are also little, the effect of tourism is almost not seen. This is the so-called “invisible” tourism. So the economic impact will be considered as positive even if the resources are used to great extent, in case if tourism gives large incomes to the local people as a result. Hovland (source unknown) divided economic impacts of tourism into direct and indirect. Direct effects are most visible and easy to measure. These are contacts between a visitor and local actors, such as the tourist industry, other industries, municipality and other local actors. Indirect effects of tourism appear when local businesses, population, municipalities and other actors are influenced by tourism through other actors. I shall now discuss these relations between tourism and fishery industry on the Lofoten Islands. As I have emphasised Lofoten is an international destination with coast life culture as a primary tourism resource. From1960 there have been problems in fishing industry and the number of employees has decreased. So increasing development of tourism compensates decreasing development of fishery industry. If we take direct impacts of tourism, they are following here: people have a possibility to get jobs in tourism industry and tourists spend lots of money in local-owned restaurants, hotels, museums. Tourism industry uses some resources that are not used by fishermen today. Old fishing houses-rorbuer- may have disappeared from the local landscapes if they were not used today as hotels. Here are some numbers to show the development of tourism in the region. In 1964 there were just 200 beds in local hotels and guesthouses and 150 beds in rorbuer in the whole Lofoten. In 1997 there were about 1360 beds just in Vågan district. The total amount of overnight stays in Lofoten has increased from 25000 in 1965 to 230000 in 1997. (Puijk 1996, SSB 1997) As we can see there is a flow of incomes to the region and this is a direct economic impact of tourism.
Still there are negative economic impacts of tourism as well caused by common resources for tourism and fishery industries on the Lofoten islands. Thats why in spite of co-existing side by side these two industries compete with each other. Many fishermen in Lofoten think that tourists prevent successful development of the fishing industry as before. First of all, the problem is common area. The number of quays in the fishing villages is limited. And what was used by fishing boats is now to be shared with tourists. Fishermen are afraid that tourism organisations will take over a lot of fishing bays, buildings, even boats. Here is an opinion of a local fisherman written in a local newspaper “Lofotposten” (9/2-98) “Svolvær bay is reserved for guestboats. There is almost no harbour left for local people to place their boats or build a warehouse.” This effect can be considered as indirect. Tourism organisations in Lofoten trying to get more benefits from tourists, interfere into the fishing industry and force them some changes.
The same concerns the fish itself. Many tourists come to Lofoten to fish. And at this moment there are no fishing quotes for tourists. So what happens is that “people come, fish freely and actively, make fish filets, freeze them, take them with them to Europe without any permission that are required from the local fishermen. Tourists can in fact take with them up to 200 kg fish in the fridge, sell it later, come back and fish again.” (www.nhh.no/geo/prosjekt) Thus, tourists decrease the fishermens incomes in a direct way. So we see how the tourism can ehave direct negative effects on the fishing industry, decreasing their resources. Although tourists leave money in the region as well, this effect becomes less visible because the local people see first of all decrease of their main incomes.
Here is another example of indirect economic impact. Tourism organisations often want to change the traditional way of fishing by the local fishermen so that coming tourists would consider their work to be more esthetical. For example, fishing wastes have always been thrown back into the sea. Now suddenly there are tourists to think about, and they find the fishing wastes smell bad. Thats why some tourist organisations ask the fishermen to install dump systems in order to clean the harbours. This brings extra costs for the community.
The tourism industry on the Lofoten Islands makes use of the resources to a great extent. The incomes the local community gets are big enough but they come partly at the cost of fishing incomes. There is a certain lack of regulations about the use of common resources. Obviously, to escape conflicts the tourism i