Does tourism bring more damage than economic benefits?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 May, 2010, 12:00am

Matthew Murchie, 15, St Joseph's College

There's no doubt that tourism brings economic progress. However, it causes so much damage to the culture and environment of a place that the benefits far outweigh the financial gains.

Many places are tourist attractions because of their rich and diverse culture. These traditions have been developed over hundreds of years. But tourism has become such a big business that some of these traditions have been destroyed.

Take Buddhist monasteries, for example. They are no longer quiet and peaceful places as hundreds of tourists flock to the temples daily, taking pictures and chatting loudly. This sort of damage cannot be reversed, regardless of the benefits brought by tourism. There are only a few places on earth where the environment has not been polluted by humans. By transforming beautiful shorelines into crowded beach resorts or building hotels and roads in snowy mountains, we are destroying the natural beauty that once made these places attractive.

Tourism may bring in a lot of money but that won't help a place repair the damage caused to its culture and environment.

Ronald Ling Pak-ki, 20, University of Hong Kong

Tourism is one of the most important industries that supports a country's economic development. Hong Kong relies heavily on the tourism industry which provides jobs for locals and brings in much-needed revenue to the government.

Yet some people say tourism leads to cultural conflicts and environmental damage. I don't agree. I think pollution is mainly caused by locals, and Hong Kong being a multicultural city, we should learn to appreciate foreign cultures.

Today, we can travel to nearly every destination in the world at a reasonable price. This has made tourism an important economic pillar because visitors are prepared to spend lots of money for relaxation, shopping and entertainment. Tourism can also lead to improved living standards and better facilities for locals.

For example, Hong Kong would not be what it is today if not for the city's huge popularity as a tourist destination. I believe the way forward is to promote sustainable tourism. Tourists should be encouraged not to pollute the environment and appreciate the local culture.

The revenue from tourism could be used to reduce pollution and boost development.