Ethno Tourism 7


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Accordingto the International Labor Organization (ILO), ethno-tourism can bedefined as excursions which focus on human activities as opposed tonature. This is a form of tourism that allows the tourist to minglewith local community and have a taste of the culture and lifestyle ofthe local community. Ethno-tourism is also referred to as indigenoustourism. It usually involves the movement of tourists from themainland to the indigenous communities who inhabit remote locations(Bolnick,2003).The tourists usually spend time with the local community in an effortto learn and understand their way of life. Usually, food and drinksare the main source of cultural experiences and is considered to be acrucial component of ethno-tourism. Over the recent years, there hasbeen an increase in tourism and of course ethno-tourism thanks toadvances in technology and the fact that the world in increasingly obecoming a global village. Recent data suggests that ethno-tourism islikely to surge due to increased income and earnings by individualsand also because tourists are increasingly in demand to experienceother cultures and as opposed to just spending some vacation newresorts or hotels. In other words, tourists are more curious and areseeking new experiences.

Whilethere is no doubt that any form of tourism is a major source ofincome for their country there is some concern that ethno-tourismwill lead to cultural loss. This is especially after some indigenouscommunities have changed their way of live after coming into contactwith tourist having visited their communities. This was the case inan remote island on the Indian ocean that is inhabited by the Jarawatribe (Vidal,2009).In this essay, the author will evaluate the economic, health andsocial impacts of ethno-tourism. Ethno-tourism not only earns thelocal communities some income but also their respective countries,the tourists in turn experience the local culture and in some wayshelp the communities have access to vital social amenities as aresult of development. However, there is the likelihood of a loss ofculture not to mention the spread of disease that might wipe outentire communities. Ethno-tourism is a success story and should beencouraged.

Thereis no doubt that indigenous communities benefit the most out ofethno-tourism. This is because the local communities mostly really onold ways of acquiring food such as hunting and gathering as theirmeans of survival and this means that they lack any professionalskills and therefore they cannot generate any income. The advent ofethno-tourism is a life saver for some communities who struggle toearn their meals ethno-tourist usually contribute to the well-beingof the communities and hence their sustenance. According to a studyconducted by ILO, ethno-tourism generates income for the indigenouscommunities by donating in community projects. For example,indigenous communities might enhance their skills by creating artswhich act as souvenirs for the tourists. Tourists eventually buy suchcrafts and other art works which might serve as their memory to theirexcursion and this provides food for the indigenous people who don’tany professional skills such as in the real world and need some formof income in order to sustain their lives (Pabilane,2011).Such art works involves some simple crafts such the making ofornaments and beads which are put together by the indigenous peopleand sold through community-self groups which earn the community someincome. For example, the Maasai community in Kenya benefit from thesale of ornaments made of beads which earn the indigenous communityrevenues after the ornaments are sold to tourists (Vidal,2009).

Culturaldiversity is probably the most crucial aspect of ethno-tourism as itis the essence of having this from of tourism in the first place.Ethno-tourists engage with the indigenous community hands on and getto experience the culture of the visiting community at first hand.Ethno-tourists experience different aspect of the indigenouscommunity such as tasting the indigenous people’s delicacy andparticipating in some of their ceremonies. Both the eco-tourist andthe indigenous community can be able to share their experiences aboutdifferent cultural practices and can be able to learn from eachother. In addition, both ethno-tourists and the indigenous communitycan relate in terms of their history. In other words, ethno-touristscan have first-hand experience on how the early man used to survivebefore the advent of technology. Ethno-tourists can be able tointerrogate questions such as why and how do the indigenous peoplesurvive and can compare and contrast some of the practices conductedat home. The cultural aspect of community helps ethno-touristunderstand their culture and why certain practices or rituals aredone. This experience helps enhance the appreciation and thepreservation for culture. This is because without the existence ofindigenous communities history and cultural practices would not bepreserved. Therefore, ethno-tourism helps ensure that indigenouscommunities are sustained in turn this helps preserve the culture andtraditions of the indigenous people(Verner, 2009).In fact, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and CulturalOrganization (UNESCO) has several initiatives that are geared towardsthe preservation of culture through several of its programs.

Uncontactedtribes or indigenous communities usually inhabit some of the mostremote areas of the earth. For example, the Indians of Brazil live inthe deep forests of the Amazon where there is little or no humancontact (VidalY. , 2012).Ethno-tourism has immensely contributed to community development inremote areas by ensuring that social amenities such as roads lead tosuch remote areas. The building of roads has opened up remote areasand the indigenous people have been now been able to make contactwith the rest of the world. This contact has proved to be beneficialto some communities who now have access to educational and healthfacilities such as the aboriginal community in Australia which hasembraced modern medicine. Such social progress has translated toreduced mortality cases for the indigenous community as they now haveaccess to medicine and other health facilities which could have ledto their demise. In addition, the indigenous community benefits fromemployment opportunities as some of the locals and indigenous peoplebecome tour guides and earn a living this way. Not to mention the nowavailable market the indigenous people have for their products to therest of the world. In the long-run this exchange benefits bothcommunities.

Ethno-tourismdoes not only benefit the indigenous communities and the tourist whoget the first hands on experience but also earns money for thecountry. In fact, in developing countries tourism represents a mainrevenue generator for their national governments as they heavilydepend on tourism. Ethno-tourism being a form of tourism ensures thatdeveloping countries earn money from the tourists and helpgovernments allocate some budget for the preservation of suchcommunities.

Whileit is evident that both the indigenous community and ethno-touristsbenefit from ethno-tourism, the indigenous community might stand tolose their culture. It is possible that some of the members of theindigenous community might become influenced by a new culture as aresult of opening them up to the world. According to Vidal, someindigenous jarawa who inhabit some remote island on the Indian Oceanhave left the forest and have turned to beggars in various parts ofthe country. This was a result of introducing the community of about250 people to the rest of the world. The jarawa people had been atourist attraction for the last 12 years but nowadays some members oftheir community have embraced modern living as some have learnedhindi and stop cars and buses to have their way to the city. This isespecially the case for some of the youths who have gone as far asseeking education. Individuals are always free to make choices andthe indigenous people are not different(Vidal,2009).Just like the ethno-tourists have ventured to the indigenous world,the remote communities can choose to do the same. However, there areminimal chances of indigenous communities transforming theirlifestyle because they have already adapted to their environment.

Thereis also the risk of exposing such communities to diseases.Ethno-tourism can contribute to the spreading of disease from onepart of the world to another. This is could be especially devastatingif the disease is deadly such as the recent re-emergence of Ebola inAfrica that led to the demise of individuals. Movement of people suchas in the case ethno-tourists can pose a serious risk to theexistence of indigenous communities if deadly diseases arecontracted. In fact, it is possible that indigenous communities canbe wiped out as a result of serious disease outbreaks such as Ebolaand that would erase the culture and history of the indigenouspeople. However, measures such as quarantine can help minimize theoccurrence of such an event. In addition, it is not only theindigenous community who are at risk to exposure to illness thereforethe relevant authorities will do their best to manage the situation.

Inconclusion, ethno-tourism has its pros and cons. However, the prosseem to outweigh the cons in this case. The indigenous communitymakes their living from proceeds acquired from tourists as a resultof sharing their culture with them. The national government alsobenefit from foreign exchange and development projects initiatedthrough ethno-tourism. The only draw backs are that the indigenouspeople may change their lifestyle and may be prone to diseases as aresult of being open to the rest of the world.


Bolnick,S 2003, TheEthno-tourism Industry.Retrieved April 18, 2015, from ILO:

Pabilane,F. L 2011, August 26, Ethno-Tourism:Striking a Balance to Attain Genuine Community Development .Retrieved April 18, 2015, from Compilation of Projects:

Verner,D 2009, August, Tourismand Indigenous People.Retrieved April 18, 2015, from World Bank:

Vidal,J 2009, July 25, Arewe here just for your amusement?Retrieved April 18, 2015, from The Guardian:

Vidal,Y 2012, Ethno-ecotoursim:A sustainable development tool to construct governance with the Wayuupeople, in La Guajira, Colombia.Retrieved April 18, 2015, from University of Washington: