Years ago it was the Japanese. Now it’s the Chinese, Indians, Russians. The future of tourism, mass tourism, everybody says.
Is it a good thing? Was mass tourism ever a good thing? My feeling is that “mass tourists” are ultimately not good for the destinations they visit.
Lowest price, maximum impact, smash and grab, been there done that, what’s next?
Then there’s the sensitive matter of race, convivial co-habitation of the vacationing masses.
Aussies, Brits, Canadians, Scandanavians, American and Euros – trash and otherwise – basically get on, sharing similar values, cultural and racial backgrounds. Also, long-term trading partners. But Chinese, Indians and Russians?
Not a lot in common as far as I can see and that matters when it gets to the dynamics, the ambience, of the countries, destinations and resorts they will one day dominate if the predictions come true.
The other thing is, what impact will new tourists have on the the established travelling tribes?
There is a strong argument they will force them out because mass tourism does not sit well with the more mature independent traveller, inevitably seeking a different, more personal experience.
Here in Australia, fair to say that the perennially poorly performing Cairns and the Gold Coast markets are both suffering – have been for years – because they geared their offering to mass tourism, initially Japan, a market that martured, diversified and ultimately stopped coming.
Also, by going after mass tourism, it can be argued that the Gold Coast and Cairns alienated the independent market, especially domestic, permanently tarnishing their own brand, and providing strong evidence that independent and mass tourism cannot co-exist.
The point is that holiday spots hurting in the current down turn and looking to mass tourism as a quick fix need to very careful about what kind of place they want to be in 10 years time when the hordes have inevitably moved on.
The answer would have to be one that is still beautiful and profitable with steady manageable growth.
That unfortunately has never been a consequence of mass tourism.
Embrace it at your peril.