With thousands of years of Celtic history under its belt, Ireland draws visitors from far and wide. And although the little island has evolved drastically over centuries, the remains of its wild ancient history (such as castles and sites of cultural and historical relevance) still prevail today.
Pubs, social culture, and nightlife are also reasons we attract tourists, with word of our merry ways stretching to the far reaches of the globe. Our natural scenery and wildlife draw hefty numbers, too, meaning that, all in all, Ireland is a thriving tourist hub.
While we welcome tourists with open arms and are passionate about sharing and celebrating in our culture, it is good to be aware of both the pros and cons of increased tourism in Ireland—and in any region. Here are five of each.
When looking at the pros and cons of increased tourism in Ireland (and any region), we should consider acculturation. This theory explores the possibility that over time, when two distinct cultures are exposed to each other’s ways of life, norms, and so forth, they start to mimic each other, thus losing their uniqueness.
This can be a huge downside to tourism. After all, if two cultures are increasingly exposed to one another through tourism and begin to adopt each other’s ways and become similar, tourists will then have less incentive to travel to said “similar” countries.
Have you ever travelled to a city or country where you felt there were more tourists than locals? Over-tourism is another negative effect of tourism.
This happens when the number of tourists becomes so high that the sheer density of visitors starts to overwhelm residents and affect the flow and atmosphere of daily life.
3. Price inflation
Another negative element of tourism that a lot of us will be familiar with is inflated prices. As a direct response to tourism, many businesses choose to increase rates in tourist areas.
This is a practice that many of us may feel we have fallen victim to when travelling—and while some will argue that “it’s the nature of the game,” what this often results in is locals being subjected to the same inflated pricing, as the “inflated prices” become standardised.
2. Commercialisation of culture
While celebrating and preserving culture are two positive factors of tourism (which we have already explored above), what these elements can and often result in is the commercialisation of culture.
This occurs when one takes an element of a culture, which is intrinsically linked to its native people, and exploits and exaggerates it in order to be more attractive to and make money from tourists.
1. Disruption or destruction of ecosystems and heritage sites
A major negative impact of tourism is that it has the potential to disrupt or even destroy native ecosystems and heritage sites. The responsibility to protect them mainly falls on the government or local body in the region.
However, as a tourist, it is important to conduct oneself as a citizen of humanity and respect local customs, rules, and the integrity and fragility of ecosystems and heritage sites. This is especially crucial in places like Ireland, where so many of our main attractions are ancient ruins or natural landscapes.
5. Job creation
A massive upside to tourism is job creation. In Ireland—a country that was ravaged by the Irish recession—job creation, as a direct result of demand in the tourism sector, was a huge upside to the tourism trade across the Emerald Isle.
People from countries less affected by the global economic downturn continued to travel to Ireland, even on the darkest of days, ensuring jobs remained and even offering job opportunities. Now, with the recession well and truly behind us, job creation continues to be a positive impact of tourism.
4. An economy boost
Financially, tourism is always beneficial to a country. Regardless of the economic state of a country, a “boost” comes alongside tourists and the tourism sector, as visitors spend money at our shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, attractions, and entertainment venues.
An especially fantastic aspect of increased tourism in Ireland is multiculturalism. Tourism draws people from all over the world to a single place and allows people of different cultures to co-exist and learn about each other’s customs and ways of life.
In this day and age, we should all be working towards a unified world—void of bias or discrimination—and multiculturalism is a positive factor encouraging this.
2. Celebration of culture
Celebrating culture with each other is another significant, positive outcome of the tourism industry. Not only are tourists getting a unique opportunity to experience another culture first-hand, but the local people are also getting a wonderful opportunity to share their love for their own country.
1. Preservation of culture
Tourism and the money it brings to a country enable local governments to preserve the culture. Heritage sites, museums, and places of cultural and historical significance are often carefully preserved in order to boost tourism. This preservation is a huge benefit of the tourism sector, allowing us to continue enjoying remarkable sites for years to come.
It is good to be mindful of the ten points above, both the good and the bad, but with that said, we believe that the pros of increased tourism in Ireland (and any region) outweih the cons. The Emerald Isle is an inviting land that loves to welcome visitors, and we would never want to lose them!