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1. Introduction.

Tourism is the worlds largest and fastest growing industry. In recent

years there have been increases in international tourism for the purpose of

experiencing another culture. There is a wide-spread opinion that the

economic impact of tourism is always positive while the social and

environmental impact is always negative. Indeed, increasing incomes to

regions due to tourists are easy to see as well as numerous host-tourist

conflicts and destruction of the environment and local cultures. However,

tourism can have both positive and negative outcomes for residents in

communities when sharing and preserving their culture and nature could be

seen as conflicting goals. (Besculides, Lee, McCormick, 2002:303) In this

paper I will consider impacts of tourism with reference to the Lofoten

Islands. This is a popular tourist destination in Northern Norway. The area

is unique because of its nature and variety of sea activities, e.g.

fishing, boat trips, sailing etc. It is also known in Norway as a

traditional fishing community, where the fishing industry dominates the

economy and the social life of the local people. Today those resources

which used to be source of living for the local community have become very

attractive for tourists. It is a challenge to get most profits of the

situation and avoid possible conflicts.

2. Economic impacts of tourism

According to recent statistics, tourism provides 10 percent of the worlds

income and employs almost one tenth of the worlds workforce

(www.investigate.html). By the year 2010 these numbers will double. All

considered, tourisms actual and potential economic impact is astounding.

Many people emphasise positive aspects of tourism as a source of foreign

exchange, a way to balance foreign trade, an industry without chimney

in short, manna from heaven.(L.van den Berghe, source unknown) But there

are also negative sides of tourisms economic boom for local communities:

Economic impacts to the local community depend on how much of the incomes

generated by tourists go to the host communities. In most all-inclusive

package tours more than 80 percent of travellers fees go to the airlines,

hotels and other international companies, not to local businessmen and

workers (www.ecotourism.org).

Large hotel chain restaurants often import food to satisfy foreign visitors

and rarely employ local staff for senior management positions, preventing

local farmers and workers from reaping the benefit of their presence.

Resorts and hotels often over-consume natural resources like water and

power, forcing utility prices up and causing blackouts and water shortages

for locals.

Many tourists never leave the hotel grounds or cruise ship, reducing the

possibility of tourist income for local businesses. Rug sack tourists

have little effect on host communities as they consume very little during

the trip.

Faced with limited economic prospects, locals lose the incentive to

preserve and conserve their natural and cultural resources.

Sometimes the costs connected with tourism overcome the incomes that

tourists generate. For example, in all-inclusive packages, as I have said,

most of the expenditures go to the airlines, hotel chains and

touroperators, while the local communities have to work with pollution and

destruction in their region caused by tourists. As a result, it costs a

lot for the local communities to preserve the nature and the cultural

monuments in the region while a good deal of incomes flow out of the host-


With reference to the Lofoten Islands the question is how the fishing

society can get the most of the tourism industry, and whether the local

people can get positive economic effects out of the developing tourism in

their region.

Here is a figure showing relationship between tourism and local community

based on economic impacts.

| | |

| |How much income does tourism give to the |

| |local community? |

|How much resource does | | |

|tourism use in the area? |A lot of |Little |

| | | |

|A lot of |Acceptable tourism |Undesirable tourism |

| | | |

|Little |Desirable tourism |Invisible tourism |

Fig.1 A general model of the local communities opinion about tourism

Rnningen 1996

Kilde: Kulturturisme. Lofoten som reiselivsattraksjon. Hovedfag.PDF,


The figure shows 4 types of economic impacts of tourism, based on the

coming incomes and the use of resources. No community would want tourism

that uses a lot of resources in the area but leaves little money to the

local population. Such tourism can be called undesirable. Communities can

put up with tourism that gives tem a lot of incomes but also uses a lot of

resources. It is the so-called acceptable tourism. In case when the use of

resources is little and the incomes to the region are also little, the

effect of tourism is almost not seen. This is the so-called invisible

tourism. So the economic impact will be considered as positive even if the

resources are used to great extent, in case if tourism gives large incomes

to the local people as a result. Hovland (source unknown) divided economic

impacts of tourism into direct and indirect. Direct effects are most

visible and easy to measure. These are contacts between a visitor and local

actors, such as the tourist industry, other industries, municipality and

other local actors. Indirect effects of tourism appear when local

businesses, population, municipalities and other actors are influenced by

tourism through other actors. I shall now discuss these relations between

tourism and fishery industry on the Lofoten Islands. As I have emphasised

Lofoten is an international destination with coast life culture as a

primary tourism resource. From1960 there have been problems in fishing

industry and the number of employees has decreased. So increasing

development of tourism compensates decreasing development of fishery

industry. If we take direct impacts of tourism, they are following here:

people have a possibility to get jobs in tourism industry and tourists

spend lots of money in local-owned restaurants, hotels, museums. Tourism

industry uses some resources that are not used by fishermen today. Old

fishing houses-rorbuer[1]- may have disappeared from the local landscapes

if they were not used today as hotels. Here are some numbers to show the

development of tourism in the region. In 1964 there were just 200 beds in

local hotels and guesthouses and 150 beds in rorbuer in the whole Lofoten.

In 1997 there were about 1360 beds just in Vgan district. The total amount

of overnight stays in Lofoten has increased from 25000 in 1965 to 230000 in

1997. (Puijk 1996, SSB 1997) As we can see there is a flow of incomes to

the region and this is a direct economic impact of tourism.

Still there are negative economic impacts of tourism as well caused by

common resources for tourism and fishery industries on the Lofoten islands.

Thats why in spite of co-existing side by side these two industries

compete with each other. Many fishermen in Lofoten think that tourists

prevent successful development of the fishing industry as before. First of

all, the problem is common area. The number of quays in the fishing

villages is limited. And what was used by fishing boats is now to be shared

with tourists. Fishermen are afraid that tourism organisations will take

over a lot of fishing bays, buildings, even boats. Here is an opinion of a

local fisherman written in a local newspaper Lofotposten (9/2-98)

Svolvr bay is reserved for guestboats. There is almost no harbour left

for local people to place their boats or build a warehouse. This effect

can be considered as indirect. Tourism organisations in Lofoten trying to

get more benefits from tourists, interfere into the fishing industry and

force them some changes.

The same concerns the fish itself. Many tourists come to Lofoten to fish.

And at this moment there are no fishing quotes for tourists. So what

happens is that people come, fish freely and actively, make fish filets,

freeze them, take them with them to Europe without any permission that are

required from the local fishermen. Tourists can in fact take with them up

to 200 kg fish in the fridge, sell it later, come back and fish again.

(www.nhh.no/geo/prosjekt) Thus, tourists decrease the fishermens incomes

in a direct way. So we see how the tourism can ehave direct negative

effects on the fishing industry, decreasing their resources. Although

tourists leave money in the region as well, this effect becomes less

visible because the local people see first of all decrease of their main


Here is another example of indirect economic impact. Tourism organisations

often want to change the traditional way of fishing by the local fishermen

so that coming tourists would consider their work to be more esthetical.

For example, fishing wastes have always been thrown back into the sea. Now

suddenly there are tourists to think about, and they find the fishing

wastes smell bad. Thats why some tourist organisations ask the fishermen

to install dump systems in order to clean the harbours. This brings extra

costs for the community.

The tourism industry on the Lofoten Islands makes use of the resources to a

great extent. The incomes the local community gets are big enough but they

come partly at the cost of fishing incomes. There is a certain lack of

regulations about the use of common resources. Obviously, to escape

conflicts the tourism industry should not take over the most important for

the fishermen areas. There are surely lots of areas not suitable for the

fishing industry (due to low amount of fish or small capacity of the

harbour) but which would suit tourists. Still, the problem lies deeper

because of social conflicts in the area.

3. Social and environmental impacts of tourism.

Socially tourism has a great influence on the host societies. Tourism can

be both a source of international amity, peace and understanding and a

destroyer and corrupter of indigenous cultures, a source of ecological

destruction, an assault of peoples privacy, dignity and authenticity.

(L.van den Berghe, source unknown)

Here are possible positive effects of tourism, according to Reisinger

(source unknown)

. Developing positive attitudes towards each other

. Learning about each others culture and customs

. Reducing negative perceptions and stereotypes

. Developing friendships

. Developing pride, appreciation, understanding, respect and tolerance

for each others culture

. Increasing self-esteem of hosts and tourists

. Psychological satisfaction with interaction

So, social contacts between tourists and local people may result in mutual

appreciation, understanding, tolerance, awareness, learning, family bonding

respect, and liking. Residents are educated about the outside world without

leaving their homes, while their visitors significantly learn about a

distinctive culture. Besides, if local culture is the base for attracting

tourists to the region, it helps to preserve the local tradition,

handicrafts which maybe were on the link of the extinction. Benefits

include also reciprocity, community pride, and a stronger sense of ethnic


On the other side tourism can increase tension, hostility, suspicion.

Claims of tourism as a vital force for peace are exaggerated. Indeed there

is little evidence that tourism is drawing the world together

(Robinson,1999:22). While the tourist is engaged in leisure, the host is

engaged in work. While the tourists arrive with loads of expectations, many

of the local stakeholders have no idea of what to expect.

Negative effects can be the following, according to Reisinger (source


. Developing negative attitudes towards each other

. Tension, hostility, suspicion and misunderstanding

. Clashes of values

. Difficulties in forming friendships

. Feeling of inferiority and superiority

. Communication problems

. Ethnocentrism

. Culture shock

. Dissatisfaction with mutual interaction.

Tourism has the power to affect cultural change. Successful development of

a resource can lead to numerous negative impacts. Among these are over-

development, assimilation, conflict and artificial reconstruction. While

presenting a culture to tourists may help preserve the culture, it can also

dilute or even destroy it. Tourism often leads to non-authentic forms of

cultural traditions, an example being festivals or dances staged entirely

for tourists, or production of handicraft clearly distinctive from

traditional ones. We can take example of saami culture. Saami duodji is

sold both with and without a quality mark. A lot of things known and

promoted as saami things is just a trash, produced far from saami

regions. Some tourist organisations present saami people as drunkards, out

of their mind, dirty and uneducated. The point is to promote a region so

that it would both give incomes and create respect for the local culture

(Gustavsen, 1998).

When it comes to ecology, it is again easier to see negative impact than

positive. Tourism often grows into masstourism. It leads to the over-

consumption, pollution and lack of resources. But in some regions

alternative industries are even more harmful to the environment than

tourism industry. Nature will manage fine without tourists, but in many

places tourism is the only source of income or the friendliest to the

environment. It is at least better than chopping down the forests or

destroying the corral reefs. (Munch-Petersen,1998 (from lecturenotes))

On the Lofoten Islands the conflict between the host community and the

tourists is more of cultural origin, e.g. in Svolvr or Vgan. The

fishermen can see that one harbour after another is being reconstructed for

a caf, a rorbucamp, a quay hotel. For the fishermen it is an expression

that their traditional industry is getting less and less important. Even

if it does not happen at the cost of the fishery industry it is mostly a

psychological problem. The local people want to behold their identity,

their traditional way of work. Here are some opinions


I am a fisherman and I dont wish to become any guide or anything like

that, I am a fisherman, and I appreciate the freedom this way of life

means. Tourists seek some exotic experiences when they come to Lofoten;

the fishermen get perplexed and confused thinking about it. There is so

much blood and fishing wastes here that tourists cant bear. Ladies in fine

clothes come here and watch how we cut the head of the fish. They think we

are some barbarians! These are cultural conflicts that can be observed on

Lofoten. Though some people insist there are no conflicts. They mean the

tourism industry uses resources that the fishermen dont get use of.

Tourism employs mostly women when fishery involves men.

Non-authentic forms of the local cultural monuments can be found here as

well. On the one side tourism helps to preserve old rorbuer. On the other

side they become modernised inside, furnished with modern furniture,

supplied with electricity, water, TV etc. Thus they lose their


In spite of all the negative changes in the local communities tourism has

positive social and cultural impact as well. Changes are inevitable; it is

a very complicated matter to preserve things as they used to be. In Lofoten

tourists help to preserve the harbours, rorbuer, old boats. If not tourism

the coastal landscape could include only modern buildings and boats. Many

museums have been opened showing the local traditions of fishing. Growing

interest in this culture makes the local people proud of their way of life.

If we take ecological impacts of tourism in the Lofoten region, we should

bare in mind that the fishing industry is no 100 percent environmentally

friendly either. So it is a question which industry brings more negative

effects to the environment. Tourists coming to Lofoten are not satisfied

with just enjoying the nature; there are many visitors who want to fish as

well. The difference is maybe that tourists stay in the region for short

periods and their welfare does not depend on the amount of fish they catch.

They fish for pleasure and often let the fish go. Still, as I have

mentioned above there are no regulations or fishing quotes for tourists and

if masstourism will develop on the Lofoten Islands it will become a

threaten to the fish.

From ecological point of view tourism is often more acceptable and

preferable than traditional production, as it is environmentally

friendlier. The problem is that it is not easy to change traditional way of

life of the local communities. It often creates pseudo conflicts.

4. Conclusion.

We have shown that the impact of tourism on local communities can be both

positive and negative, whether it comes to economic, social or

environmental effects. All depends on to which extent tourism is developed

in a particular region. Every region has its bearing capacity, that is to

say the limit of the outcoming influence that does not harm the host

community. If we overcome that limit negative impacts of tourism will


Here is a figure which shows the dynamics between people, resources and

tourism in successful tourism: each makes positive contribution to the


Fig.2 The ecotourism paradigm. Source: Page and Dowling (2002:27)

Integrated sustainable resource use

Environmental advocacy







revenues for


All the three elements in this model are in co-interaction. Local

communities use the natural resources but they also protect them. Tourists

come to enjoy the nature and get knowledge about it, but they also can

pollute and destroy it, or on the other side help to protect it by drawing

attention to unique natural resources in the area. Local communities affect

tourists by giving them knowledge of their culture and way of life.

Tourists impact on the local populations can be economic (giving incomes,

using resources etc) and sociocultural (e.g.changing traditions) When

developing a new tourist destination we should always bare in mind this co-


In any case local communities should be empowered to sayno to undesirable

tourism. In order to decrease negative effects on local societies we can

check the following moments when arranging tourism activity in a region or

taking part in it: (Fennell,1999(from lecture notes))

. Are local people involved in tourism industry as employees?

. Does the organisation cooperate with the local businesses?

. Is it respectful attitude to the local culture?

. Is there respect to the nature and how is it protected?

. How much economic benefit the local population get from tourism?

. Are tour operators concerned about ecological hotels, transport,


We can see it is a great challenge to make profitable business running

tourism in an area without affecting negatively the local communities. It

is possible for tourism industry to co-operate with other industries and

bring benefits to both the tourism organisations and local businesses. The

first step to achieve it is to understand needs and desires of both the

host community and the tourists.


[1] Rorbu (Norwegian) fishermans shack