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Negative social and cultural impacts

The negative socio-cultural effects of tourism can vary widely depending on the location, the culture, and how tourism is managed.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0 Images © Getty Images

Like the positive socio-cultural impacts, the negative socio-cultural effects of tourism can vary widely depending on the location, the culture, and how tourism is managed.

For example, without proper investment in infrastructure, both overcrowding and poor sanitation may become a problem for tourists and locals alike, though the local population is likely to be affected more in the long term. As tourists bring new money to an area, crime rates may also increase, with tourists being targeted as ‘easy money’.

Locals may also develop a negative view of tourists, especially with large influxes of visitors, or if local values are not respected by tourists and popular visitor areas are not kept clean.

Aspects reflecting major concerns, specifically in the relationships between tourism and culture include commodification, staged authenticity and standardisation:

  • Staged authenticity: This term refers to ‘pseudo-events’ which have nothing to do with the local culture, let alone its authenticity. They are ‘artificial’ and create a pseudo culture which does not truly represent the real culture of destination communities.
  • Standardisation: The tourists’ search for familiarity within their tourism environment lead to a loss of cultural diversity e.g. McDonald’s, which represents American culture outside America.
  • Commodification: This takes place when tourism demand mutates and sometimes destroys the meaning of cultural performances and events. Tourists are likely to have different time-frames and expectations from local residents and this may result in religious rituals and traditional ethnic customs and rites being changed to suit the needs and wishes of tourists (Fletcher et al, 2018).

Your task

Conduct a short investigation to find out how staged authenticity can directly correlate to the commodification of a destination culture. Post your findings in the comments.


Fletcher, J., Fyall, A., Gilbert, D. & Wanhill, S. (2018). Tourism: Principles and practice (6th ed). Pearson.

Sharpley, R. (2008). Tourism, tourists and society (4th ed). Elm Publications.

Sharpley, R. & Telfer, D. J. (2014). Tourism and development: Concepts and issues. Channel View Publications.

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0 Images © Getty Images
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