Tourism Development in Tunisia Essay
Much of the findings are based on my own observations on the impacts of tourism as I travelled around Tunisia. The three principle aspects of sustainability are social, economic and environment impacts which I used as my three elemates for measuring sustainability. Beach tourism has been present in Tunisia since the 1960’s where as saharan tourism although was started during the 1980’s it is still very much developing and aiming to gain its own indepence from beach tourism in Tunisia.
Beach tourism is a success for Tunisia in terms of economic benefits, the traditional Tunisian culture has faded in the coastal regions, there is also a strong reliance on the tourism industry making the region very vulnerable and enviromentally the lack of freshwater and wastewater manage do not appear to be something the coastal region is tackling despite how much water is used in this type of tourism.
Saharan tourism on the other hand does not appear to be receive that much economically from tourism compared to beach tourism, however the social impacts of tourism seem to less the and the environmental issues in Tunisia seems to be something that the interior regions are working towards solving. To conclude this report finds that saharan tourism is neither more sustainable nor less sustainable than beach tourism because both have negative aspects and positive aspects that need to more balance. 2. 1 Objective The purpose of this report is to; I.
Explore and discuss the impact of tourism development between the coastal and interior region of Tunisia. II. Identify whether Saharan Tourism is more sustainable than Beach Tourism in Tunisia. 3. 1 Methodology & Sources of Data When comparing the impact of tourism development between the coastal region and the interior region of Tunisia an in field study was done. Much of this investigation is based on my observations in the field as a learning diary was conducted giving a detailed day to day description of places visited across Tunisia and my thoughts on the experience.
However I along with my group members did conducted a number of activities on the places visited and in some destinations we got the opportunity to carry out various questionnaires on local Tunisians and tourists to find out their thoughts on tourism in Tunisia. In order to conduct a full comparative analysis between the interior and coastal regions the destinations of Hammamet, Sfax Douz and Tozeur which were visited during the trip to Tunisia have been chosen as the regions I intend to focus this investigation on. I. Critique of Methods Used
The fact that the research for this investigation was conducted in the field meant that I was able to get a first hand look at the impacts and ultimately gather some primary data. However, the in field study did have many flaws, which made it difficult and unethical to compare the interior region of Tunisia with the coastal region. Firstly, the local participants interviewed were those working directly or indirectly in the tourism industry i. e. local business owners or hoteliers which meant that their feedback could have been biased because they economical benefit from tourism.
Similarly, the feedback from the tourists interviewed in Tunisia could have been influenced by the fact that they were wrapped in a tourist bubble therefore failing to acknowledge the negative impacts tourism development many be having. What may have made this study more feasible is if questionnaires were conducted on locals who did not have any involvement in the tourism industry. Another flaw in this investigation is the measuring of sustainability, sustainability is a complex and difficult objective to measure; the challenge in measuring sustainability is how we measure one negative impact against another.
For example; tourism in the coastal region of Tunisia maybe more economically beneficial but cause more negative environmental impacts where as tourism in the interior region may receive less economic benefits but have less negative environmental impacts, therefore how would you measure which one is more sustainable. 4. 1 Interpretation & Findings I. Sustainability and Alternative Tourism In order to determine whether Saharan Tourism is more sustainable than Beach Tourism in Tunisia it is important to explain the definition of sustainability in tourism and its relationship with alternative tourism development.
The term sustainable tourism is defined by WTO as; “Tourism that meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future. Rather than being a type of product, it is an ethos that underpins all tourism activities. As such, it is integral to all aspects of tourism development and management rather than being an add-on component The objective of sustainable tourism is to retain the economic and social advantages of tourism development while reducing or mitigating any undesirable impacts on the natural, historic, cultural or social environment.
This is achieved by balancing the needs of tourists with those of the destination”. (World Tourism Organisation) The principles of sustainability relate to the economic, social and environmental elements of tourism development, in order for sustainability to be achieved on a long term basis these three aspects need to be balanced. Alternative forms tourism have over the years been increasing as strategies employed by many destinations as a way of eliminating the negative effects associated with mass tourism (characterized by the three‘s’ sun, sand and sea).
II. Beach Tourism in Tunisia The presence of tourism in Tunisia dates back to 1960’s when the country received attention from North European tour operators seeking to expand low cost packaged tours to new destinations outside Europe. The development of tourism from this date has been very much focused on package tours to coastal regions such as Hammamet and Sousse. Tourism in these regions has been economically beneficial as main jobs in these regions are tourism related either directly or indirectly.
However tourism development has made the country very vulnerable due to a reliance on tour operators and over concentrated focus on beach tourism. III. Saharan Tourism in Tunisia At present the Tunisian government is trying to shake off the destinations reputation as offering coastal resorts and cheap accommodation, one way in which they intend to do this is by diversifying the products on offer to tourists.
One of these products being Saharan Tourism, in the late 1980’s the government recognized that in order to compete in the international tourism market then they would need to exploit the wealth of potential for tourism in the Saharan regions of the country. Not only to compete with the European destinations such as Turkey, Spain and Croatia but to provide a solution to the economic troubles of deprived regions in the Sahara and help preserve their cultural and natural heritage.
However despite the governments efforts to promote the sector in these regions by offering tax incentives for private operator’s tourist activities in the region has been slow and not yet gained its independence from the coastal trade. IV. A Comparative Analysis of Hammamet, Sfax, Tozeur & Douz i. Socio-Cultural I observed when visiting the coastal resort of Hammamet that the region appeared to have lost some of it cultural heritage, this was increasingly vident in the Yasmine Hammamet region which houses a new medina built for tourist consumption instead of being a historic monument built to house locals. Throughout Hammamet it was clear that the presents of tourism over the years has meant that the countries traditional Islamic and Arabic culture has been invaded by western cultural characteristics. While touring the medina’s in Hammamet there were a number of designer western products on sell and the dress code of the locals was much more westernized too.
However this did not seem to be a negative or conflicting situation between the locals which was confirmed by one local male participant interviewed, who was asked whether there was a conflict between the young and old generations because of the cultural changes in the region. His response was that there was not a conflict between the different generations and that tourism in the area has not been the only catalysis for cultural change international television and technology in the region has also been a cause.
In Sfax local not far off the east coast of Tunisia the issue of modernization and westernization are also evident there however Sfax is much over polluted and industrialized in comparison to Hammamet. Compared to Hammamet and Sfax the interior regions Tozeur and Douz were much more traditional in terms of cultural dress code and infrastructure. What was also different about the interior region was the interactions with local Tunisians, as we travelled out of the tourist zones to different cultural attractions in the interior of Tunisia you get a more authentic feel of the Tunisian culture.
One example of this was in Douz where we got to go to a local shisha cafe not far from our hotel, which was filled with local Tunisians mainly men smoking shisha and socializing with other locals and tourists alike. Another socio-cultural difference between the interior and coastal regions is the amount of people that live in these areas. From visiting these four towns in Tunisia it is evident that the rural parts of Tunisia are being slow abandoned for the urban areas. (Figure 1.
Showing a staged performance for tourists in Yasmine Hammamet Medina) ii. Economic Economically, is clear that Hammamet is very dependent on tourism which I was informed of by a local medina stall own who we interviewed while visiting Hammamet old medina. When questioning the stall owner he informed us that tourism was very unpredictable particularly during the recent recession because tourism in the area fell, as tourism is the main source of income to the economy in the area this means that the locals are in a very unstable situation.
Other evidence of how reliant Hammamet is on tourism was shown by how pushy and aggressive the stall owners and those working in the medinas were to get tourism to purchase from their shops. The stall owner also informed us that although tourism is unstable it has been beneficial for locals by providing jobs particularly as agriculture in this area is declining as I was informed of by the interviewed participant.
This was considerably different from Tozeur and particularly Douz as I observed visiting Douz market, the workers and stall owners were not as pushy to get us to buy from their shops and were more adamant on the prices they expect us to pay for their goods. In Tozeur, Douz and the surrounding areas just outside of these towns there was plenty of signs of agricultural activity, for example olive and date production which is why these regions seem less economically reliant on tourism.
Although the Tozeur did not seem very depend on tourism the same cannot be said for the mountain oases just outside the Tozeur town where I observed children hustling for us to buy their jewellery which is shown in figure 2. Figure 2. iii. Environment Lack of freshwater and wastewater are the central concerns in throughout Tunisia, in Hammamet and Sfax there were no obvious signs of how the region is tackling these issue. Which is quiet worrying considering that mass tourism has the highest demand for water, due to accommodation and facilities such as golf courses and swimming pools.
However when we questioned a local hotel worker on the negative environmental impacts of tourism in this area he seem sure that there were not any. In Tozeur and Douz and other interior regions visited there was evidence that freshwater was something they were tackling this was particularly evident in Kairouran where I got observe the water dam and a well where water is pumped by a camel (shown in Figure 3) and also Tozeur where there has been heavy investment has been in place to tackle groundwater shortages.
In Douz I were informed by our tour guide that sand storms were a big issue in the region and that the government was work towards solving the situation, as many locals had to moving from the region because there houses had been completely covered by the sand. Figure 3. Conclusion Based on my findings comparing the interior region with the coastal region, I feel that Saharan tourism neither more sustainable nor less sustainable than beach tourism in Tunisia.
Saharan tourism is something that is still very much developing in Tunisia, there is evidence that once it is fully developed it will be more sustainable than beach tourism but present there not enough evidence to suggest that Saharan tourism is benefiting enough economical for it to be deemed a sustainable objective. Although environmentally and socially there is evidence that sustainable objectives are being met these three aspects of sustainability need to be balanced in order for Saharan tourism work as a sustainable development.
Appendix Figure 1. showing a staged performance for tourists in Yasmine Hammamet Medina)….. pg 6 Figure 2 ( Showing children hustling in the mountain oases outside Tozeur )….. Pg 7 Figure 3 (Showing a camel pumping a well in Kairouran)…. Pg 8
Bibliography Stefano L. , Freshwater and Tourism in the Mediterranean, June 2004, WWF Mediterranean Programme Hosni E. , Strategy for Sustainable Tourism Development in the Sahara, 2000, UNESCO Cooper C. , Fletcher J. , Fyall A. , Gilbert D. & Wanhill S. , Tourism; Principles and Practice, 4th edition, 2008, Prentice Hill Websites www. unwto. com