Tourist Impact on Indian Culture.

#1 Aug 3rd, 2003, 16:33
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#1
How do tourists feel Indian Culture has been/will be affected by tourism?

This topic has been discussed recently with some good replies, but maybe more specific questions might get more responses.

The following questions can apply to anywhere in India and all replies (positive or negative) are welcome.

1 - Are western attitudes impacting on local culture?

2 - Have you seen any visible changes in local culture/attitude?

3 - Will any changes be beneficial/detrimental to local culture?

4 - How do you see things in 10 years/50 years?

5 - Would any changes have happened in any case?
#2 Aug 4th, 2003, 04:44
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#2

Globalization

This is quite a difficult topic, with no correct answers.

In some cases, predominantly with younger male local people, Western attitudes do have an impact, however with globalization and mass media particularly television and films, one can find this has effects, therefore one cannot point the blame directly at tourism. It is rather a case of tourism exacerbating impacts as opposed to implementing them. Also, in many cases acculturation is seasonal with the locals reverting back to their "normal culture" when the tourists go home. What can also be suggested is that local culture often impacts on Western culture and peopel make change in their lives.

I have seen many changes, too many to name. One example, more and more Indian men have begun to wear long Western trousers instead of the lunghi/dhoti - this has meant the introduction of more Western toilets as Indian men find it impossible to use the Indian style when wearing trousers.

Culture is not static and what is positive for one person can be negative for another.

10 years / 50 years - no idea! Sustainable tourism in a big way, cyber tourism, large tourism enclaves / islands like the one being built in Dubai.

Change occurs all the time, changes would have happened - perhaps not the same ones, but societies are evolving and have to change.
TJ
#3 Aug 8th, 2003, 07:24
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#3
Yes, Morena, I think you are on the right track!
But, please everyone, don't confuse the inevitable advance of civilisation with "global tourism". Re the introduction of western toilets, when I was a child I remember sitting on an earth closet with torn-up newspaper threaded on a piece of string! Today, I've a centrally-heated flushing loo conected to mains sewerage and silky-soft toilet paper. This wasn't due to mass tourism, just the economic growth that has brought general prosperity to the Western world.
Yes, I look forward to the time when every Indian has the same creature comforts that we take for granted. Please don't confuse culture with poverty.
#4 Aug 17th, 2003, 17:48
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#4
I agree with Catmac and Morena - there's a world of difference between the impact of tourism and basic economic development. I do think that India will always have that undertone of...something that makes it India, no matter what happens to it or how much it grows. The main impact of tourism can be more readily found in the hordes of touts, ever growing in number, the burgeoning souvenir shops selling loads of crap to random passers-by, and the occasional unfortunate city such as Agra, overrun with bad tourist food, bad tourist hotels and bad (and overpriced) gift shops selling Taj Mahal t-shirts, postcards, letter-openers, spoons, thimbles and tiny replicas. That's what scares me about tourism - I don't want any more Agras or Goas. But the things that show India's increasing prosperity - Western toilets, Western trousers, the occasional calm, orderly street (yeah, right), air-conditioning...I don't think it's a real impact of tourism and I don't mind it as much.
"I think America is just a place people made up to scare their kids." - some TT guy
#5 Aug 17th, 2003, 18:06
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#5
I am new so do not understand the references made to Agra & Goa?

I hope to go and live in Goa one day - but would hate to start a trend of blue rinsed (golf playing) oldies using Goa like Southern Spain - which I have witnessed being ruined. (Mind you - the Spanish don't seem to mind too much as they have become more prosperous - but they think us impossibly vulgar).

Enid
#6 Aug 17th, 2003, 20:42
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Steven--

May a non-tourist reply to this? :-)

Apana
#7 Aug 18th, 2003, 12:33
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Apana

Yes, everyone is welcome to reply, I guess I asked the questions in the wrong way.
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SOS: Missing Person...

Please look at this thread, even if you are not in India.: Have you seen Jonathan Spollen?

He could be anywhere now: You might have met him, be able to help, or give information.
#8 Aug 18th, 2003, 19:54
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Steven--

In response to your questions:

1 - Are western attitudes impacting on local culture?

The impact as such may rest in local communities turning to tourism as an alternative source of income. More tourists mean more money. This has been seen in areas where local communities have been encouraged to promote eco-tourism.

A negative impact is the kind found in Goa, but this started as a different sort of tourism, hippies/dope etc.

And some places in North India have spawned generations of scamsters.

2 - Have you seen any visible changes in local culture/attitude?

The negative signs, in places like Goa, have been well documented. The positive aspects may be seen in places like Hampi, where you can get a good room at a reasonable rate. Still further, the award of the World Heritage Status has made the ASI actually do their job. I was astounded on my first trip to Hampi, to see that the monuments were free of squatters, telephone wires, and tea stalls.

Local cultures have also understood, in rupee and dollar terms, that preserving their monuments/wildlife reaps benefits. A living tiger pulls in more money than the quick money to be made by a poached tiger.

3 - Will any changes be beneficial/detrimental to local culture?

I think the mantra here is sustainable tourism. Throwing up five star hotels which do not benefit the local people are of little use. Again, Goa is a case in point where almost everybody flouts the Coastal Regulation Zone guidelines.

In areas where there are tribal populations, I feel that a hotel/resort must be required by law to provide jobs to these people. Furthermore, the eco-friendly credentials of each establishment must be vetted by an independent body.

Dual tariffs must go; they are slowly being removed by several resort owners. It's only a matter of time. Also ridiculous things like foreigner registration. We should adopt the Western model where only those citizens of States considered to be a threat to India must be required to register.

Attitudes of the police to crimes against tourists, whether international or domestic, must also change. Perhaps a functioning tourist police would help.

4 - How do you see things in 10 years/50 years?

In 10 or in 50 years, I think that non eco-friendly hotels will not survive. With changing attitudes they will have to change. With increases in the volume of tourists, both international as well as domestic, I feel that facilities and service will improve.


It has to improve since package deals are now drawing domestic tourists away to SE Asia.

The reason why touts survive is that there is a paucity of information regarding travel in India. A few tour operators have established websites but most are still a poor source of information; and sadly, many are run by cowboy operators. I believe this will change after a few years. Niche/specialist tour operators already have good sites and (most) don't cheat clients.

Things will improve rapidly for reasonably well-heeled tourists; things will not change in a hurry for the backpacker on a budget.

And where there are backpackers there will be scamsters.

5 - Would any changes have happened in any case?

A difficult question, since we cannot imagine a time without tourists.

Yes, they would, considering the reach of television and the increasing number of Indians who travel overseas. And now there's the net.

You will have more Agras and Goas, you have to take the bad with the good. Unspoilt places are also cheap, and that draws the riff-raff. For instance, this commune or whatever, that is across the river from Hampi is not a good thing. It was only after UNESCO threatened to withdraw the World Heritage status that the authorities threw the dope heads across the river. I think they should be sent away for good.

That's it, I hope I have not been rambling.

Apana
#9 Aug 18th, 2003, 22:56
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  • Inity & Iditation is offline
#9
hi,

I think that often people unfairly point at backpackers/budget travellers/hippies as 'negative tourism'.

For example, many places want to attract 'richer' tourists, thinking this is somehow a smart strategy.

However, it is usually the budget travellers who are happy to sleep in peoples houses and use local toilets, even if it is/was the 'pig/beach' toilets in Goa. So for these tourists, local infrastructure is often adequate, and any growth to expand on the demand can be small-scale and done with local materials/labour.
This acceptance of local standards also often means more exposure to local cultures which is good for the tourist too.

however, the rich tourists DEMAND western toilets, plumbing, and that new high end resorts are built to their expectations and standards. not only is this rich type of development more environmentally disastarous.... but local people lose out. Do you think it is some local fisherman from Goa who owns the resort? no, it is either already-very-rich out of towners getting richer or it is actually Foreign owners/investors.
Local people would consider themselves lucky if they now can even get a job cleaning the toilets at such a resort for a meagre pay!!!

In large scale hotels and restaurants, you may find that there are also fewer women working, because the formal sector is primarily male-dominated in India.

However, in the budget / informal sector, women often are self-directed entrepeneurs, they may run a guest-house or small restaurant that can be started up with little initial investment. Also because the owner is the worker, then the profit they make is better, no middle-men, and they are empowered by having control over their business as the managers rather than as employees.

Basically, what I am getting at is that budget tourism, the backpackers, "hippies" and such that are much derided, are actually open to a more locally beneficial form of tourism where the money is not all siphoned into already rich outsiders.

Look at Goa for example. Despite people here saying that the damage from tourism is so evident, you should look at other beach resort places around the world and you will see that even Goa is certainly not 'ruined' and that more than a little thought has been put into the development of tourism in the state. Also, if you look, it is the upscale areas that have created the most destruction. Blaming Goa on "hippies/dope" is also ignoring the much larger problems of harrasment, assault, abuse etc... that alcohol intoxicated tourists inflict upon the locals (and each other!). The impact is very different.

given that state governments are more likely to extract bribes/taxes/corruption money from large scale resorts, it is no doubt that they want this sort of tourism to expand for selfish reasons, as they probably get little to no kickback from your small family guesthouse business.

At any rate, despite my comments, the reality of tourisms impact on 'development', the locals and the environment is a very complex one, that does not lead to oversimplification.
#10 Oct 8th, 2005, 11:10
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#10

The future of the Indian Culture

Okay, how about asking the opposite question. Will Indian culture affect the world. I don't know about you guys but have you had a look at how the Indian culture is slowly spreading around the world. Very much like the American culture started to spread in the 50's. Through television, fashion and Decor. I don't know a westerner who hasn't seen an Indian film, bought Indian cloth or clothing or do not own an Indian made decor piece. What other country in the world besides America is sending their culture around the world through the media and bridging language barriers...............India. I see the axis turning with regard to American culture. Movies have been their public relations machine internationally for the past thirty years. India's message is one of love, family and community. Who wouldn't want to experience or emulate a culture like that. Instead of seeing hundreds of McDonalds and KFC's opening around the world, what's the bet we will start seeing hundreds of Curry fast food chains opening around the world
With regard to the Indian culture being affected by tourism. I think a lot of people get modernization and western culture confused. Modernization is the ability of communities to improve their environment whether it is by the introduction of television, mobile phones, internet, cars, motor bikes. Or that you are becoming a westerner if you decide to wear jeans because they are more comfortable and you have the choice to wear them. Or decide that a sit on toilet is more comfortable than a long drop and a bit more co-ordinated and relaxful. The Indian culture will always be safe because the underlying basis to their society is one of love, family and community. And western culture will always be around because it is based on different ideals that work for them. But one thing is for sure both cultures are intelligent and has the ability to take from the other culture what it feels it can use for the betterment of their societies. This is called modernization and development.
#11 Oct 8th, 2005, 12:46
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#11

Tv

I think TV and internet are the bigger carriers of western influence in India. Still, things like this happen

http://www.hindu.com/2005/10/08/stor...0813330100.htm

I guess many of us are caught in transition.
#12 Oct 8th, 2005, 18:56
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#12
very important subject! will add comments later
#13 Oct 8th, 2005, 19:08
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#13
for the time being I'll say Inity & Iditation is very right...

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