Tourism has a highly complex impact on cultural values. Tourism activities may lead to inter-generational conflicts through changing aspirations of younger members of communities who may have more contact with, and are more likely to be affected by, the behaviour of tourists. Furthermore, they may affect gender relationships through, for example, offering different employment opportunities to men and women. Traditional practices and events may also be influenced by the tourist preferences. This may lead to erosion of traditional practices, including cultural erosion and disruption of traditional lifestyles. Additionally, tourism development can lead to the loss of access by indigenous and local communities to their land and resources as well as sacred sites, which are integral to the maintenance of traditional knowledge systems and traditional lifestyles.
Only 12 countries account for 75% of all tourists, and two of these (USA and Germany) account for 40% of all tourist arrivals, although they represent less than 10% of the world's population. The problem will considerably increase when incomes rise sufficiently in other areas of the world to permit international travel.
The Caribbean government of St Lucia used US$ 174 million, or 11.5% of its gross national product in 1992, in tourism development. Visitation to the Caribbean by American tourists has fallen since 1990, where environmental problems (harassment from islanders offering sex and drugs, deteriorating appearance of infrastructure and the natural environment) are now regarded as a threat to the tourism industry. Some hoteliers have turned their properties into "all-inclusive resorts" -- walled to exclude the locals and patrolled by security guards.
The number of international tourists to China has increased by five-fold in the period from 1980 to 1990 and shows typical indications of the social impact of tourism. One reported effect has been preferential occupation of scenic locations for tourism facilities and the displacement of farmers to build golf courses. Discos and rock bands are gradually taking over the opera, national dances and folk music, and some traditional arts and handcrafts are losing their original style. Prostitution has become one of the main social problems in Hainan province, one of China's Special Economic Zones, where in 1991, 24 out of 28 restaurants in the capital were serving endangered species on the menu; and drug taking and selling is spreading in Yunnan province.
2. Modern tourism is pleasure-seeking and its exploitative nature in Third World countries is but a reflection of the structures of domination operating at other levels. Tourism of the rich in the lands of the poor also represents a form of exploitation which satisfies the rich person's appetite but does nothing to improve the poor person's situation. Out of tourism is born a "bastard culture" and one parent (the tourist) leaves without accepting any responsibility for the child left behind.