Tourism and Economic Development in Asia and Australasia.
(Pinter, Wellington House, 125 Strand, London WC2R 0BB, England, 1997, 372 pages)
Tourism and Economic Development in Asia and Australasia is "an exploration of critical issues facing the evolution of the economies in the world's most buoyant tourism region . . . [and] . . . a first attempt to lay a foundation for tourism studies in the [Asian and Australasian] region" (p. xi).
Scholars from a great many different disciplines representing the interdisciplinary nature of tourism, and from a variety of countries, have contributed to this volume. They examine tourism development in "all its geographic and economic complexity" (p. xii). The book discusses 14 countries in East and Southeast Asia, "many of which follow a value system that can be classified under the rubric of Confucianism" (p. xi), The researchers who contributed to this volume all attempt to answer two broad questions: (I) How are the individual countries of Asia changing, and what are the implications these changes may have on tourism and economic development? (2) What are the major challenges facing the development of Asian economies, specifically from a tourism perspective? (p. xii).
Central to the discussion is the self-destructive nature of tourism development; the economies and tourism in the region have experienced explosive growth in the last three decades. Yet, all the same, "the results of the rapid growth have been a collapsing infrastructure that is hardly able to respond to further tourism demand; a shortage of semiskilled human resources; and an ecological crisis that in certain destinations is turning visitors away" (p. xii).
The book is divided into three parts. Part 1, "Analysis of Tourism and Economic Development," introduces the reader to the themes central to the discussion. The first chapter examines "the significant aspects of tourism development in Asia and Australasia in a global context" (p. 3) and does so by looking at its process, content, and context. The author of this chapter concludes that
destinations in Asia and Australasia have arrived at the crossroads. They can continue to develop like the past and risk stagnation and decline, or they can choose to reframe their environment by embracing change and give greater priority to sustainability, authenticity and quality. (P. 31)
The second chapter enthusiastically reports that "tourist arrivals to the region will increase from 41 million in 1992 to 156 million in the year 2005" (p. 46), an annual growth rate of almost 11%. The author of the third chapter takes a cautious approach and looks at the impacts of international tourism development. He states that "the Asian region is likely to remain the most dynamic in world tourism; this will continue to bring with it opportunities, challenges, and the need for careful consideration of development opportunities" (p. 63).
In Part 2, "Country Profiles," tourism development in the 14 countries is discussed. The countries have been grouped together based on their level of economic development. The first three chapters look at the industrial countries of Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, followed by a discussion about three newly industrialized countries: Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan. Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia are examined next. The final two chapters in this section look at two low-income communist countries: China and Vietnam. Most of the authors in this section are cautiously optimistic about tourism development in the individual countries.
Part 3, "Looking Ahead," brings together some of the themes that dominate most of the book's discussions. Chapter 18 looks at alternative paths to sustainable tourism and asserts that "sustainability can be achieved through adopting alternative forms to 'mass' tourism" (p. 321). The authors are of the opinion that tourism can become more sustainable: "The first step in achieving this is to be realistic in acknowledging that the problem is complex and that any solutions must be founded on the necessity of accommodating further growth" (p. 333). The final chapter looks at the role of education and questions why students in vocational or certificate programs cannot be offered a "holistic" educational experience like that offered to students in tourism and related programs. The chapter ends with the question, "How can industry and education work together to promote deeper and clearer insights into each other's contribution to the well being of all individuals for whom they are responsible?" (p. 366).
As was stated earlier, this is a first attempt at laying a foundation for tourism studies in the region. As such, this anthology succeeds admirably. The overview chapters in the first and third parts tend to be a little more cautious about tourism development than many of the country vignettes and succeed very well in bringing the main points across. The region has seen explosive economic growth, making it the world's most buoyant tourism region. Yet, the growth of tourism has also resulted in some negatives: failing infrastructures, labor shortages, and ecological crises, to name a few. The countries in the region "should attempt to develop tourism on a scale, at a rate of growth, and in locations that avoid serious adverse social, cultural, and/or environmental impacts on its society" (p. 30). The book provides many valuable pointers on how these countries should go about this and provides researchers with a wealth of up-to-date information about tourism development in the region.
Hubert B. Van Hoof
Northern Arizona University
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|Author:||Van Hoof, Hubert B.|
|Publication:||Journal of Travel Research|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Aug 1, 1999|
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