Why does crime occur? Why are people driven to break the law? Why do entire segments of the human population feel the need to step on other humans in order to ‘get theirs’? Is the education system failing us?
“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”
The only reasonable answer I can come up with is that people feel compelled to operate outside the boundaries of the law because they feel that the law has been made to create inequalities that don’t allow them a fair shot.
While it might be easy for the uber-privileged to eschew this argument as an uneducated class of people feeling sorry for themselves, crime is an alarming trend. And when a significant mass of the population feels this way, it seems unlikely that millions of people should be simply written off as “uneducated” or “delusional”.
In some cases, the people resorting to crime in an effort to “get ahead” might fall into the category of being uneducated, but, again, what is the reason for this, especially in a country so economically and technologically privileged as our own?
I find it hard to accept the argument that resources are not enough to provide quality education for every young person in this country. Our resources are plenty. We simply decide to use them for other purposes while our education continues to spin wildly down the toilet.
Many of our nation’s problems stem from a need for total education reform. Crime rates are no different. They seem to be directly related to economic and social status and the fact that vast percentages of our population feel as if they haven’t been given a fair chance.
America was founded on the simple principle that every man, and woman, has the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” But true liberty is not available on an equal basis in this country. Your right to life only goes so far as you’re willing to stay within the bounds of laws that sometimes feel unfair, unnecessary, and, often, downright discriminatory.
The pursuit of happiness is only possible if one is given the tools, the means, and the freedom to pursue whatever it is that makes the individual happy. I have a tough time believing that individuals forced to resort to crime do so because robbing, stealing, cheating, and killing makes them happy. They do so because they are driven by need, and in this country, that need is monetary.
The reality, for many people that choose to lead a life of crime, is that it pays better than your average 9-5 gig. It’s difficult to make ends meet, support a family, and achieve financial security when working within the boundaries we’ve been given. Crime pays. It can be lucrative. And until that is no longer the case, it will continue to be an outlet for the disrespected and underprivileged populations of the world.
“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.” -Ayn Rand
In any tourism destination, the local population must possess the capacity to maximize the benefits of increased visitation. Investments in sustainable development must be accompanied by investments in local education, especially in nations where funding for education is limited. Without such investments, it will remain difficult achieve positive and sustainable, regional economic development, as well as improve quality of life for locals.
In many cases, a significant percentage of the direct profits from increased tourism visitation escape the local economy. Often, this means that local benefits only extend so far. When locals begin to realize the extent of their “glass ceiling,” many begin to regret their willingness to open their doors so eagerly. In this case, a dangerous rift may form between visitors and the host population. Refer to the first part of this essay for my personal experience in my hometown.
Butler’s “Tourism Life Cycle”
In 1980, Professor Richard Butler outlined six stages in the tourism life cycle. Butler suggested that every tourism destination exhibits an identifiable evolution process. In cases where tourism is overly relied upon as a primary economic driver, local economies become devastated when the destination rapidly declines, both in terms of offerings and popularity.
Butler explains his model well:
“Visitors will come to an area in small numbers initially, restricted by lack of access, facilities, and local knowledge. As facilities are provided and awareness grows, visitor numbers will increase. With marketing, information dissemination, and further facility provision, the area’s popularity will grow rapidly. Eventually, however, the rate of increase in visitor numbers will decline as levels of carrying capacity are reached. These may be identified in terms of environmental factors (e.g. land scarcity, water quality, air quality), of physical plant (e.g. transportation, accommodation, other services), or of social factors (e.g. crowding, resentment by the local population). As the attractiveness of the area declines relative to other areas, because of overuse and the impacts of visitors, the actual number of visitors may also eventually decline.”
Five years before Butler proposed his model, George Doxey examined the evolution of host-visitor interactions. His findings helped him develop what is now known as Doxey’s Irritation Index, or “Irridex,” for short. Doxey’s model suggests that attitudes amongst the host population in a given destination are likely to progress through four distinct “levels of irritation.”
Most host populations begin with excitement and anticipation. Tourism planners and developers promise substantial economic gains. The idea of improving the local economy and bolstering regional quality of life while welcoming guests from around the world and sharing a slice of local culture appears to be a win-win. In the initial stage of “euphoria,” visitors are welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately, planning to sustainably meet the inevitably variable demands of visitors is often minimal.
Slowly in some cases, and more quickly in others, the host population will begin to take visitors for granted. Interactions between hosts and visitors become more formal and a destination’s reputation for boasting a warm and welcoming local population starts to become compromised. This is known as the stage of “apathy.”
When any given destination reaches the saturation point, host attitudes quickly turn negative. This level of irritation is characterized by ‘annoyance’. Some locals may begin to express concerns and misgivings about inadequacies in their slice of the “tourism pie.” In response, many planners mistakenly attempt to keep a destination viable by increasing infrastructure, rather than limiting growth.
In the fourth and final level of irritation, categorized as “antagonism,” members of the host populations reach their breaking point. In the worst cases, this results in direct host-visitor conflicts, as more hosts start to openly show their frustration. Despite growing tension, planners often increase destination-marketing efforts in an attempt to shore up the destination’s deteriorating reputation, although it may be wiser to limit growth and seek a healthy means of alleviating conflict, such as dispersing benefits more equally.
The Need for More Holistic, People-First Development
Tourism, while touted as an economic savior for many developing nations, can have devastating effects on destinations that are ill prepared to truly benefit from a boom in year-round visitation. Pollution, widening income gaps, and tense interactions between hosts and visitors are just a few examples of the negative effects of hasty tourism development.
When pursued in an ethically responsible manner, however, opening new destinations to tourism visitation has the potential to break down cultural and ethnic divides, smash class barriers, and improve global quality of life. While many destinations appear prosperous from the friendly grounds of the resort, locals living just miles down the road still face with major challenges, including, but not limited to, lack of access to clean water, healthcare, and education, as well as high rates of infant mortality and below average life expectancy.
As a rapidly expanding global industry, tourism development should be pursued as a tool for improving quality of life around the globe. A continued adherence to development initiatives that serve corporate interests over the needs of the world’s impoverished and disenfranchised populations will continue to stymie the industry’s ability to reach its full potential.
Shifting the purpose of tourism’s current “development mission” is no small task, but the corporations driving global tourism development must be held accountable to the pursuit of an ethically-sound vision. We can start by increasing awareness of the all-too-often unequal distribution of tourism “benefits,” as well as investigating how the industry can contribute more positively on an international scale.
Fortunately, there are already many organizations committed to these purposes. If momentum is to continue in a positive direction, however, the individuals that work in, and rely on, the tourism industry for their livelihood must have an equal seat at the table. Please visit the United Nations Foundation’s site to read more about efforts to promote sustainable tourism development worldwide!