Indigenous people and tourism

Ethical Travel GuideIndigenous peoples frequently suffer greatly due to tourism. Indigenous peoples are self-defined groups of ethnically and culturally distinct peoples, whose language, traditions and social institutions have largely withstood the impacts of colonisation or other incoming groups and cultures to a region. They typically have an intrinsic, spiritual link to their lands.

However, in many countries, indigenous peoples are socially, politically and economically marginalised from mainstream society, which views them as inferior and ‘under-developed’. Their opinions are not sought about tourism development on their ancestral lands. Displacement from or violation of these lands can amount to cultural devastation.

In other instances, tribal villages become showcases for visiting tourists, with little benefits shared with the communities themselves. Cultural dances and artefacts become little more than commodities for tourists, often bought very cheaply and sold by middlemen and even mass produced in factories overseas. All of this can lead to feelings of frustration and resentment amongst local people towards tourists, undermining the positive experience that should come with equitable cultural exchange.

Some areas where cultural conflicts occur: Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Bali, China, Cambodia, Egypt, Honduras, Jordan, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Namibia, Peru, Senegal, India, Tibet, South Africa, Thailand, Zanzibar.


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