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Home Our Understanding of 'Ecotourism' The Effects of Mass Tourism and Globalization

The Effects of Mass Tourism and Globalization

The Effects of Mass Tourism and GlobalizationThe words of JaHae Leeja, Lisu Development Worker:The effects of mass tourism and globalization can be seen in many areas of daily life.

In the past villagers would plant rice and small amounts of many food plants for the family to eat. If there was any left over, this could be sold. Now some villagers are turning from self-sufficiency to cash crops such as cabbages having seen wealthy people move into the area and make a lot of money. Villagers place all their trust in the success of the crop. If the crop is bad there is no food for the family to eat. The villagers no longer have time for their family, for community development or to socialize, as they must work harder. The diet of the villagers is not as good as they do not have the variety of food available and must buy everything.

When planting cash crops there is a greater effect on the environment, the soil becomes poor if chemicals are not used, cash crops need higher levels of pesticides, waste more water and erosion can increase. Oversupply is also a problem. Villagers see cash crops as the way to make money easily; they can be sold in the markets or sold to wholesalers. But as more people plant the crop, the supply is greater than the demand and therefore the price goes down. In some cases villagers decide to plant the crop themselves. They can call buyers and let them know that they would like to sell the crop. In other cases, buyers will come to the village and ask the villagers to plant certain crops. In both cases there is high risk for the villagers. The buyers may go to other places before that village, and may therefore not want to buy more. Or the buyer may say a lower price than before. In either case the villagers will have to either sell at the low price or throw the vegetables away. This is a risk everyone takes in planting, however for a group of people who live a subsistent life the difference is very large.In the area where I live, many villages now have electricity. This has made their lives much easier. They don’t need to light the fire for light, women can see to make handicrafts and children can study during the evening. The telephone is expensive but it is good as you can get in touch with people easily and speak with people a long way away. The villages now have good water systems. There are toilets in the village, many houses have a water source and villagers no longer have to carry water a long way. The diet of the villagers has changed. More processed food and food with high fat and sugar contents is eaten. Modernization has occurred quickly, and the villagers want to have all of the modern facilities at once. Once they have electricity, they want a fridge, tv, motorbike, car, stereo and fashionable clothes. This means they need to have a lot of money.
Children get bored in the village and want to be able to afford all of the things they see on television or when people visit the village. They don’t want to work in the fields any more or there may not be enough land for them to work. So the youth seek employment in other places. However, lack of citizenship is a limiting factor in being able to work out of their village.

Travelling is now much easier than in the past. There is roads and regular public transport along main roads. People can now get to hospitals, shops and other facilities that their villages do not have. The roads have opened up the mountain areas. This makes the area more accessible for everyone. However it does have some problems. The mountain area around Chiang Rai is now a main drug trafficking route from Myanmar into Thailand. There are no laws in Myanmar prohibiting the growing of Opium or manufacture of amphetamines.

More people now go to the village. There are mobile markets and other people selling things. In the past there was only a narrow path into the villages. Tourists would hike into the village in small numbers carrying everything that they needed. They would stay with a family for a few days and work and play with the family. Now the roads are bigger. The tourists arrive as large groups in buses and minivans. They walk around the village for 20 minutes, look at the handicrafts but rarely buy anything. The villagers feel like an exhibition. The forest available to the wild animals has been considerably reduced. This has resulted in the loss of some of the large animals and birds such as tigers, bears and hornbills. The quality of the water has decreased. This has been a result of the use of pesticides, increased levels of erosion from logging and non-sustainable agricultural practices. There are now fewer animals such as shellfish, crabs, turtles and fish in the rivers.

In the past food was wrapped in natural packaging such as banana leaves and bamboo. Now villagers use a lot of plastic. It is more convenient and food can be stored longer. However there are no facilities in the villager for rubbish like plastic. It either gets thrown anywhere in the village or there may be an open rubbish site.

There have been many situations where people have come to Thailand and obtained plant species, techniques and ideas that the Hill Tribe people use, and have patented it. This takes away the right of the local people to use it and their wisdom and knowledge. The Hill Tribe people are scared. They have heard of this happening and don’t understand the whole process. They just know that if this happens, in the future they will have to pay money for something that was originally theirs.The World trade organisation does not seem to consider the people at grass roots level. Its main target group is not the community. Much emphasis is placed on developing countries becoming more like developed countries. Instead all countries should be thinking of others, should help develop cooperative skills between all groups so that sustainable development occurs considering the environment and indigenous people.
Now a lot of time and money is spent on infrastructure such as roads, airports, but really should focus on people and relationships and personal and community development. Everyone should have the same opportunities to acquire knowledge and equal rights to freedom of choice. Nature should be the winner. It shouldn’t lose out. People should have common sense in regards to the environment. They should live sustainably with nature.We fear that the community spirit will break down. In the future, possibly within 10 years there will be no Hill Tribes or culture – everyone will have to be the same, we will all be Thai and even that will not be very different from other countries. People will still live in the mountains but it will not be Hill Tribe people, they will just people living in the mountains. Traditional wisdom and knowledge will be lost. I want everyone to be able to live harmoniously together without war. I am interested in the preservation of traditions and culture of indigenous people and conservation of nature and biodiversity. This will help to make a beautiful world.

To read about the effects of mass-tourism and globalization on the lives of Hill Tribe villages, click here.

Last Updated (Tuesday, 20 April 2010 21:18)

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