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The social benefits of tourism

Maldives, Palma, Beach, Sand, The Coast
Definition of tourism
One of the most used definitions for tourism is the one by the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO defines tourism as “…the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited.”

Another definition by Mathieson and Wall, 1982, is also worth nothing. They wrote in 1982 that tourism is “The temporary movement of people to destinations outside their normal places of work and residence, the activities undertaken during their stay in those destinations, and the facilities created to cater to their needs.”

From the above, one can define tourism as the non-permanent movement of a person from his or her place of abode to another place for purposes not limited to business, leisure and pleasure but not receiving any monetary compensation for it. It includes staying in places provided by others for free or paid for and using facilities created for the benefit of making life easy during their stay.

Cultural understanding
One of the social benefits of tourism is the understanding it engenders between tourists and hosts. It is understandable that there are differences between the cultures of various countries. Even within countries, there are differences between the cultures of one part of the country and another part of the same country. As tourists and hosts interact, they are able to understand each other culturally. Understanding the cultural norms of host countries forms the bedrock in the flourishing of the tourism industry.
 San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge
Job creation
Another social benefit of tourism is that it allows for the creation of additional jobs in the host country. The tourism sector is undoubtedly a very labour intensive sector. Any increase in visitation must necessarily correspond to the number of people needed to cater for the needs of the visitors. More hands mean more jobs are created.

Increase in employment
After jobs are created, the positions created must be filled by qualified people. In addition to the creation of jobs therefore, it must be added that people get employed, so another social benefit of tourism is that there is increase in the number of people who get employed.

Alleviation of poverty
Another positive social benefit of tourism is that it helps to alleviate poverty. When jobs are created and such jobs are taken up, people earn money and are able to put food on the table for their families. Parents and guardians are able to put their wards through school and are also able to pay other bills. Poverty generally is reduced, to a certain extent, where tourism flourishes.

Preservation of local culture
Tourism is socially beneficial because it helps to preserve the indigenous culture of the local people. This is so because as visitors throng in to watch annual festivals and appreciate it, the locals take a closer look at their culture and view it as a cultural heritage. They are encouraged to develop their own cultural identity and sell its attraction to the world.

International co-operation
Also, tourism is socially beneficial to a country because it helps to promote cooperation among nations. International cooperation is usually handled by the International Cooperation Division or any analogous division within the Ministry of Tourism in a particular country. The division mentioned earlier holds consultations with other international organizations such as the United Nations World Tourism Organization, organizes cultural exchanges with other countries and sends representatives to international events and conferences. All these activities help to promote international cooperation among nations.

1. a. Define tourism.
    b. What are the social benefits of tourism?
2. In what six ways does tourism benefit your country?
3. Highlight six importance of tourism to a nation.

The economic benefits of tourism

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