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Measurement of Impacts

Measurement of Impacts
In the previous section, we talked about some of the challenges in doing research and understanding the impacts of tourism. In my comments, I focus primarily on environment impacts, but the issues also apply to economic and social cultural impacts. I now want to move on to consider how impacts are actually measured. And there are two main types of study. Firstly, what are called physical impacts, and secondly perceptual impacts. I explain each of these in turn. The study of physical impacts involves scientific measurement of changes in environment. Sometimes the study focuses on specific activities, so we want to know the impacts of skiing, or the impacts of visiting a museum, or the impacts of swimming or boating, or whatever the activity is.
When people talked to me about impacts or asking for advice, they often call about specific activity. They will say when I thinking of opening up a park to off-road vehicles or snow mobiles, what would be the implications for the environment if we do that? The second set of studies concerns the ecosystems. Impacts of tourism on particular types of environment, such as coral reefs or mangroves, or other beaches or other environments which are seen to be as very sensitive to tourism.
Another way of arrange the literature is to consider particular environmental components. Impacts on geology, such as cave or limestone features, or impacts on soils, impacts on vegetation, impacts on vegetation, impacts on wildlife, impacts on air quality, impacts on noise, and so on. That is where much of the literature are also focused, and there are studies which have tried to put together some of this information again from all of these studies, and that is the focus of the books I refer to several sections ago.
So, when people undertake a scientific approach, they come up with scientific measures. So you read about points per million, bio-chemical and oxygen demand, species diversity, and measures like that. What is found is the relationships are nor linear, what I mean by that is small numbers of tourists can result in considerable change, adding more tourists. Yes, may resulting more change, but not the same of amount. So, a lot of change occurs at low level of visits and this is very important because it means that is difficult to rest areas as some people suggest for them to recover, and because the changes occur very rapidly. The backgrounds people have for studying wildlife, soils, vegetation, water and so on are different.
What it means then is there are very few comprehensive studies which consider all of the elements of environmental, little known economic and social and cultural impacts at the same time. at the same time. So, the work is quite fragmented, soils, vegetation or the water quality or wildlife, very very rarely on all these things at the same time. very very rarely on all these things at the same time.
I don’t know the background of the people that are listening to this presentation, but I would guess that more and more students interested in tourism are not well prepared to undertake environmental impact studies. As tourism programs get more and more into business schools, so students take less and less courses outside of tourism on environmental processes or related culture. And so often they are not well prepared to undertake the impacts studies of the type that I’ve been talking about. The second types of study are perceptual studies. What people think about impacts of tourism, how do they perceive it, and the measures are different.
So, for example, the scientific studies may measure water quality in terms of chemicals and points per million Whereas ordinary people often judge water quality on the color of the water, whether smells or not, whether there are things floating in or not. And so, the measures in the perceptual studies are different from those used by scientists. And there are many different stakeholders who have different views on what environment changes are acceptable and what are not, because they are stakeholders. So, their perceptions will be different depending on their backgrounds and preferences.
If you read these kinds of perceptual studies, you find that people often say the results are contradictory. That social economic characteristics of people that are giving their opinions don’t result in the same results in every location. Women think this one location, think something different in another location. That should not be surprising, because the results of perceptual studies are place specific or contingent. It depends on what other options there may be in a place or whether they think changes are important or not. And so, what this means is that we cannot generalize through perception studies from one circumstance to another, from one place to another.
And this is why I must talk to people, to local people about their perceptions of tourism, what they think, what they would like, and do this public participation. Both types of study are needed, both physical and perceptual studies, because they provide different kinds of information. Both types of study are needed for planning and management purposes. Having talked about the complexity of undertaking impacts studies, and the different types of studies in the measurements may be produced, once again trying to generalize over this complex situation. The first is to repeat point I’ve already made, rates of damage and recovery often differ markedly, Damage can occur very quickly with small numbers of people, recovery can take a long time.
And the higher altitudes, further on mountains and the higher latitudes, the closer you get to the north or south poles, then the relate to recovery get slower, slower and slower. And while we may talk about the impacts of different types of tourism, we may be able to go some way in summarizing by considering the impacts of feet and vehicles. In fact, many of the impacts are caused by people walking, tiny feet repeated many many times. And vehicles, this is cars, but also buses, planes, trains and so on.
So, if we consider an activity, such as canoeing on the river, the impact is not so much on the canon itself, but the feet on the cars, on the banks of the river, as people access to the tourism recreation site and try to get their canoes in and out of the water. So, as a short way of looking at the tourism impacts, it’s good to think of the impacts of feet and impacts of cars and other vehicles. From management perspective, I think it’s very useful to think of tourism systems in terms of points, lines and areas. Points, are small places that all tourists must get close to, in order to get the tourism experiences.
So, a waterfall would be an example or a statue, everybody must get very close, this means that the place can easily get congested, crowded, overused. And in fact, as a result, the attraction can be destroyed. Although because people are concentrated, it’s relatively easy to make money out of them, and maybe possible to manage them. Lines or linear systems are pathways, roads, rivers, coastal lines, where the challenge is to ensure that the whole line is not built up. But there are concentrations where tourists would be in large numbers and where money can be made from them, and other areas along the line which are undeveloped.
For example, in Bali, Indonesia, they designate particular roads for people to drive, so they could get good views of the rice fields. Unfortunately, because tourists are in large numbers viewing these roads, people build restaurants and souvenir shops along the roads, and as a result it became difficult to see rice fields along the designated roads. So, in the linear system, we have to break up developments into developed areas and undeveloped areas rather like points, rather like beads on a string. Lastly, there are areas like many parks, protected areas, it’s very difficult to manage people who are dispersed over a very wide area.
So, we have to find ways of concentrating on them, both so they can be managed, and so we can make money from them, such as access points where facilities and interpretation centers may be located. So, the simple areas of points, simple ideas of points, lines and areas, can be used very usefully to manage what tourist do, and hence some of the impacts. As we move on into the next section, we will talk about some of the concepts that underline research management of tourist areas.

We will let you know that there are physical and perceptual studies in the measurements may be produced, and both types of study are needed for planning and management purposes.

Who are the stakeholders in the tourism activities? How do they view the impact of tourism?

We would like to invite you to share some thoughts in the comments section below.

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Tourism Policy and Planning

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