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The Socio-Cultural Impacts of Tourism

The term SOCIETY refers to the group of people who share the common culture in a particular location while the term CULTURE consists of belief, behavior and other characteristics that are common to the member of that particular group or society.


The cultural differences between the tourist and the host is very common as both of them are from two different societies. 

These cultural differences between the tourist and the host may be in terms of the following:

1. Language: Tourist and host may speak different languages. Eg. A tourist from China speaks "mandarin" and a Maldivian host speaks "dhivehi".

2. Behavior: Most of the countries have set norms for socially acceptable behavior in their countries. All the tourists who are visiting these countries are expected to follow these behavioral norms. Any disrespect to these social norms may cause a problem to the visiting tourist.

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Eg. While entering Gurudwara (Place of worship for Sikhs), you are expected to cover your head with scarf. 

Eg. Swimming with bikini in Maldivian inhabited islands is restricted. 

3. Belief: Communities from Asian countries are more orthodox when compared with western countries. People in Asia are inflexible in their beliefs and ideologies; they are unwilling to challenge and question long practiced customs and traditions.

A tourist arriving from a western country may find most of the religious and social practices in Asian countries quite strange.

Eg. Arranged marriages are very common in most of the Asian countries. These marriages are normally arranged by the elders of the family.  The family members usually believe that arranged marriages last for long.

Eg. Some communities in India marry off frogs to appease rain gods. They believe marrying off frogs will bring rains and avoid drought like situation.

What is demonstration effect?

The demonstration effect is the occurrence of indigenous and rural communities and cultures adopting western style and behavior that they have observed in visiting tourists through demonstration and interaction.

In simpler terms:

Demonstration effect refers to the behavior that members of the host population copy from the tourists.

Demonstration effect is main cause of many socio-cultural problems.  Hence it is generally viewed as a negative impact of tourism.

When local people copy tourist behavior, it can lead to the erosion of traditional values and culture. This may lead to the tensions between younger and older generations, orthodox and liberals of the local society.  

Demonstration Effect: Maldives perspective.

Maldives is tropical nation in Indian Ocean with a population of 4,40,000.  However, Maldives attracts more than 1.4 million tourists annually.  With three times more tourists than its population, Maldives offers an excellent opportunity to study the demonstration effect.

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  • Maldivian youth adopted western cloths.  They no longer wear traditional dress. Traditional dresses are confined to specific occasions.
  • Due to more tourist arrivals from Italy and China, Italian pasta and Chinese noodles became part of Maldivian diet.
  • Muslim traditions prohibit consumption of alcohol but use of drugs and consumption of alcohol became a major problem in Maldives.
  • Traditional Maldivian cuisine is being swamped by globalized brands like marrybrown, chikkings, pizzahut, kfc etc.
  • Wedding parties and celebrations are westernized and they are at odds with Maldivian traditions. 
  • Maldives official language is Dhivehi but English is widely spoken across all the sections of Maldivian society.  Due to the influence of tourism more Maldivians use English as medium of communication at work place and at home.

IGCSE (0471) and GCE O Level (7096) Past Paper Questions :
Topic: Demonstration Effect

  1. Oct/Nov-2015-0471/12-Q1(e) 

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