The hospitality industry or tourism has remained an essential part of development planning in developing countries. In some cases of stagnant industries and conventional agriculture, tourism acted like a savior creating new inter-sectoral connections and demands. More particularly, the different branches of tourism industry (i. e. catering, accommodation, excursions, food and beverages, tour operating and transport, recreational activities and the entertainment industry, sale and souvenir production) are considered to open immense prospects for employment and income to diverse population groups.
While travel has become the world’s largest industry according to top industry executives, its operations and growth strongly depends on the policies, especially immigration policy, adopted by the governments in its promotion. International Law and the Tourism Industry Whereas international law recognizes nation-states as having sovereignty, other types or levels such as provinces or dependent countries, may have limited authority over certain legal matters but are subordinate to the superior nation-state.
Just as governmental functions affecting tourism are distributed by the type and level of organization, so also are there different levels of authority over governmental matters important to tourism. For instance, in a sovereign nation-state which has subordinate divisions, a decision about which foreign airlines should be allowed to operate into its territory would be made at the national level of government. The level of foreign ownership in general would be a national decision, since no sub-national division of the government would have the authority to determine that policy.
Conversely, in those same countries the nature of the requirements for motor vehicle operating license issued to a foreign tourist would likely be determined by the state or provincial level of government. In a further example, a policy decision to permit the construction of a large hotel on a particular piece of land in a given city may involve primarily local government bodies. The land would require proper zoning classification by local authorities, and construction permits would be issued by local or provincial governments.
For this reason, the appropriate level of government to become involved in a tourism issue will depend on a number of factors, and in some cases several levels of government may become involved. In countries where there are no local or provincial governments, all issues of tourism policy would likely be handled by the national government. Such political systems are usually described as unitary governments. Tourism-Based Issues and Policy Intervention There are numerous tourism-based issues which may require direct action by governments either in a facilitative sense or in a regulatory role.
In illustrating the close connections existing between tourism as a human activity and government, which is also a human activity, for instance, one could think of international travel policies and regulations, including air transport policies and international agreements; customs and immigration policies; currency restrictions and foreign exchange values; travel restriction on citizens because of safety concerns or lack of diplomatic protection; environmental issues arising from tourism development; land use policies; infrastructural pressures or demands from tourism development; crime prevention and law enforcement needs resulting from tourism; taxation policies including taxes or levies unique to tourism; the development of historic sites or major cultural attractions which facilitate tourism; and the preservation of local, regional and national identities and culture where the volume of tourism is high relative to the local population and society. All of these are issues which can be drastically affected by government actions (Jafari 2000). Tourism Industry and Immigration Policies Government policies on such issues can either stimulate or retard the development of both national and international tourism. While national governments join and support international organizations pertinent to tourism, the free movement of persons among countries is facilitated. In the same way, such movement can be restricted, as demonstrated in the prohibition by some countries of travel by its citizens to specific nations.
Strict immigration and customs enforcement or tight currency controls can make certain international tourism difficult. Even government intervention in major labor disputes affecting domestic tourism or international travel can have a significant impact on the tourism industry across national boundaries. The quality and volume of tourism activity in any society is greatly dependent not only upon government tourism policies or the lack of policies, but also upon that government’s relations with tourist generating nations and its own citizens’ tourism proclivities. The above examples exemplify the range of issues on which governments may act to affect the industry.
Since in most polities government is responsible for the overall maintenance of order, what it does in all sectors of society will affect tourism as well. Tourism and Politics Out of the many definitions of politics, Lasswell’s Politics: Who Gets What When and How (1936) concisely focuses attention on who has the power to control the distribution of resources and under what conditions or in what pattern it is dispersed. It concentrates attention on such issues as who those most affected positively or negatively by tourism policy are; whether elites, interest groups and the general public are involved in making decisions; and whether there are monitoring mechanisms to discern the impact of tourism on individuals and groups.
Cases for instance are special events like the Olympics and World Fairs that may have some obvious benefits for those who participate and attend and for the businesses that they patronize, and in terms of prestige for the hosting nation and city. Nevertheless, there are also those who bear the costs of tourism. There are evictions, increased taxes, security measures, traffic, crowding and crime. All create winners and losers. Within the same political unit, there may also be a great variation in who benefits along lines of class, race and gender. Hospitality Industry (The U. S. Case) Tourism industry in the U. S. has been consistent and successful.
From 1986 to 1995, domestic and international tourism increased by 40 percent and 72 percent, respectively. The country is the first international choice destination and top average earner. The power of this industry comes from its job creation, export promotion and return on investment to help shape tourism policy worldwide. Ethnic cultures are evident in the cities and some regions of the country. The regions of the United States have become known for their unique forms of culture and cultural attractions. Due to immigration policies, large numbers of individuals with similar ethnic backgrounds tended to settle in distinct communities, and develop tourism attractions and events.
The United States has become one of the preeminent destinations in the world due to its size, differing perspectives and diversity of attractions and culture. Because of this success and the economic impact it provides, it is important to understand the various aspects of tourism policy development in this country, and the difficulty in adequately representing all of the interested parties. Regional Tourism (South East Asia) According to Ghimire (2001), national tourism has become more important in terms of the total number of tourists and its contribution to national economy than international tourism. Apparently, it has been recognized that tourism is a vital element in regional economic development and cooperation.
However, most of the efforts have been instead put into the development of international tourism. While regional tourists are evidently the largest tourist groups in most South East Asian countries, development in regional tourism has yet to receive significant attention. Nevertheless, regional tourism development gains gradual consideration after seeing that many South East Asian tourists prefer to take holidays in their own countries or region. A significant part of the strategy developed in enhancing regional tourism is the steady removal of visa restrictions under immigration policy along with improvising transport links and the provision of easier currency exchange.
Despite national political instabilities and the establishment of authoritarian regimes, like Myanmar, there has been a continual growth in economic links among South East Asian countries. However, the economic competition among these countries and the concern on rapid immigration from poorer neighboring countries has a tendency to hold back development in regional travel and tourism. Moreover, countries like Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam are considered poorer countries compared to the relatively better-off Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand that marked a significant difference in standards of living. Due to this situation, it has created inequality among South East Asians in their capacity for leisure travel.
Tourism Industry in South America Hospitality industry in South America has been adopting active policy towards tourism. This is driven through the dynamic tourism policy of Brazil and Argentina that gains recognition by the Mercosur (common market comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Chile being an associated member) in its economic potential of regional tourism. The same as with the South East Asian countries, immigration policy plays a key role in facilitating regional tourism through easing border restrictions. As quoted in Dorsey (1991), complicated or difficult immigration procedures can diminish the competitive value of a destination.
In South America, regional tourism is an entrenched phenomenon with the reduction of frontier formalities under immigration control producing positive results in terms of increasing number of tourists in the region. Similar to the South East Asian situation, restrictions in visa and custom still remain difficult particularly for tourists from poorer countries as an apparent result of standards of living differences. Conclusion In revitalizing and diversifying the regional economic foundation, tourism industry is frequently seen as an exceptional means of generating new employment and income opportunities for local communities and strengthening people-to-people contacts.
Immigration policy is an inevitable consideration in the progress of regional tourism apparently seen in South East Asian and South American situations.
Dorsey, J. (1991 April 22). Council Urges Governments to Adopt Tourism Growth Policies. (World Travel and Tourism Council). Travel Weekly. Ghimire, K. B. ed. (2001). The Native Tourist: Tourism Development Within Developing Countries. London: Earthscan. —, (2001 June 1). Regional Tourism and South-South Economic Cooperation. The Geographical Journal. Jafari, J. ed. (2000). Encyclopedia of Tourism. London: Routledge. Lasswell, H. D. (1936b/1958). Politics: Who gets what, when, how. New York: Meridian.