Exploring the socio-economic impacts of tourism: a study of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh
University of Wales
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This study evaluates the socio-economic impact of tourism development on the local community in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The country wants to utilize tourism as an economic development tool to reduce poverty and stimulate socio-economic wellbeing. Tourism has profound impact on the local community of the destination as it brings economic and socio-cultural changes. The significant positive economic impacts are increased employment and earning opportunities, enhanced standard of living, more investments, infrastructural development, and new business linkages and opportunities. However some negative economic impacts been identified, like increased income disparity, increased land price and rent, price hike of essential goods and services, seasonality effects and leakage of earnings. A frustrating finding is that majority of the tourism assets and well-paid jobs are enjoyed by non-locals whereas the local community does not enjoy its rightful share due to uneven benefit distribution. The positive socio-cultural impacts include women empowerment, more participation in education, limited outward migration, and enhanced social safety and security. Some negative socio-cultural impacts are displacement of poor from their land, increased social gap, frustration, social disorder and loss of cultural originality. Unfortunately the local community is not fully aware of the value of their cultural heritage and so they try to imitate tourist’s socio-cultural traits. A major difference from other tourism impact studies is tourism does not contribute in raising crime, gambling, and prostitution in Cox’s Bazar. The local community is involved in tourism activities but has minimal involvement in the decision making process. This study reveals that the local community is totally excluded from the policy formulation process and policy makers do not consider the socio-economic impacts of tourism development on the local community. Local community is benefiting from tourism development but significant scope exists to increase their active participation and equitable benefit sharing. Some recommendations are made for the Development of Tourism in Cox’s Bazar to maximize positive impacts and minimize negative impacts along with some insights for further research in this field.
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