The actually thinks that it can have the power

The paper, More
than an “Industry”: The forgotten power of tourism as a social force, written
by Freya Higgins-Desbiolles in 2006 is as important now than it was when it was
first published. In my opinion, industry professionals are still struggling to
embrace the power of tourism as a social force and putting too much focus on
its monetary values.

The title of the article is self-explanatory and
straight to the point of where the author stands. In all, Higgins-Desbiolles (2006)
believes that is one of the most powerful forces shaping the world due to its
great benefits. These includes economic value for all nations, as well as
social cultural and environmental benefits. Tourism also contributes to the
preservation of cultures and to the restoration/conservation of environment.
But most importantly, tourism promotes peace and understanding between people
from nations all over the world. All of these characteristics of tourism show
that it is much more than just an industry. Higgins-Desboilles (2006), believes
that executives have forgotten about the powerful social force of tourism due
to the dominance of neoliberal values. Therefore, the industry failed to resist
the effects of marketization. Tourism industry leaders use the opportunities it
offers to them for their own wealth accumulation (Higgins-Desbiolles, 2006).

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The textbook written by Richard Sharpley in 2015, Tourism and development: concepts and issues,
highlights exactly what Higgins-Desboilles was afraid was overshadowing the
true powers of tourism. Sharpley (2015) defines economic neoliberalism as a
policy that treats individuals as if the only connection between them are
market forces, but Higgins-Desboilles actually thinks that it can have the
power to demolish a society when it is looked at that way. Another reason why
the social benefits of tourism is overlooked is because of its impact of a
nation’s economy and development. Sharpley on the other hand states that “tourism
is not only a social phenomenon; it is also a big business” (2015). This
statement is the complete opposite of the article’s argument and I absolutely
agree with Higgins-Deboilles. Although it is a great benefit, the social power
should be the main purpose and focus. “The potential of tourism to contribute
to development in modern, industrialised countries is also … recognized” (Sharpley
& Tefler, 2015). Sharpley continues to prove his point by quoting the World
Tourism Organization (WTO) “Tourism in many developing and least developed
countries is the most viable and sustainable economic development option, and
in some countries, the main source of foreign exchange earnings” (2015).

Compared to tourism as an industry, tourism as a
social force is able to meet social needs and concerns in a much more humane
way than solely through economic development. Although we should be grateful of
the economic and developmental contributions of tourism, it is important and
necessary that we focus on the bigger picture, such as “improving individual
well-being, fostering cross-cultural understanding, facilitating learning,
contributing to cultural protection, supplementing development, fostering
environmental protection, promoting peace and fomenting global consciousness
which contributes to the formation of global society” (Figgins-Desboilles,
2006). When doing so, the economic image of the industry is reduced and becomes
a social force. Tourism is better when seen as a social force because it does
not only include businesses, laws and policies; but also people play a
significant role in the ‘industry’ by traveling to simply enjoy themselves and
what the destination has to offer.