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Political Economy and Tourism Development - Group 8

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    Group 8: Sunna, Xyniu, Collins.


    Political Economy

    Politics and Economy are two different areas and subject of development and both have their similarities and for a government to be successful it has to have a good political and economic foundation, also when it comes to international tourism this two areas are very powerful and they both play a vital role when we talk about tourism development, tourist are looking for a satisfying experience through properly segmented and developed area and product, they also seek a high quality of service and a well-managed and organised destination (Cooper, 2012).

    When a country has a political and economic instability it automatically affects everything in government and development, this is the reason in tourism we have the lesser develop and the fully develop, fully developed location is known to have all basic amenities for tourist, a tourist at a destination requires a range of amenities, support and facilities and service (Cooper, 2012) but when the economy of a particular destination is unstable it affects those basic needs of tourist and in return putting the tourist destination in an under-developed state.

    There are other different opinions about politics and economy but the fact is that the both areas need to link each other for development to be visible, take for example Iraq there have been war, unrest and unstable political and economic government we can see clearly that it’s almost impossible for development to be visible, tourism has been put to stand still because no tourist want to visit a war zone (Cooper, 2012).



    Development is the systematic use of scientific and technical knowledge to meet specific objective requirements, it is also the connection between the process of political ideologies for example the society and economic progress. In tourism we have several opinion on what is development or what a developed location or destination is or an under develop location  as most people will say that development has a lot to do with the economic situation of a country, but the fact still remain that the economy of a place has a huge effect on the development of a destination or location, the reason most tourism destination or location try to get the government involve in the tourist activities in the location so as to help in financing the various developmental project in that area (Holden, 2005).

    Today in our society countries with a very good economic structure is seen as developed while the countries with bad economic structure is seen as lesser developed countries, most western countries is seen as developed countries because of their economy and if you visit those countries with a good economy as a tourist you find a huge difference when you compare it with the countries with low economic structure. Having a well developed location also need proper planning without a proper planning a location it will be very difficult to develop a location and tourism planning takes place in three different levels which are nationally, locally and individually at the national level it involves the co-ordination and management of large tourist regions or the country as a whole and its usually through the development of policy “Kerry Godfrey& Jackie Clarke”. At the local or facility level it involves the planning, design and development of individual tourist attractions, service and facility to serve the needs of the tourist, development is a very important factor when it comes to tourism location (Holden 2005).


    A Framework For Development Theories

    The political and economic environment changed drastically after the World War II, the war is, arguably, the most influential and significant event of the 20th century. This marked the beginning of theorising and study of the development of countries, formilations of policies and regulations followed. Different framework of development theories have been mapped, this includes the modernisation theory, dependency theory, economic neoliberalisation and alternative/sustainable development theories (Holden 2005).


    Modernisation Theory

    Modernisation theory became prominent in the 1950s and 1960s. Modernisation theory is used to explain how the social and economical developments is a path from traditional society to a western modern society, policies are created to help the social and economic changeover in the poorer countries (Holden, 2005).  Walt Rostow was a economist and political theorist. from The United State. Rostow believed in the efficiency of capitalism and free enterprises. Rostow is known for his book The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non Communist Manifesto, written in the 1960, which is where he proposed the modernisation theory (Holden, 2005). In figure 1 developmental process is shown visually, from the traditional society staging up to the high mass consumption society. 

    Figure 1. The evolutionary process which countries progress up a development ladder of five stages. Source: (, 2015).


    Rostow suggested that there are 5 developmental stages for countries to reach:

    1. The undeveloped countries are the traditional societies that are dominated by the families, tribes and clans, people are born into their roles. Agriculture is the production
    2. The “pre conditions for take-off“ stage is where the societies are introduced to materials factors such as tecnhology and capital from the Western society.
    3. The “take-off stage” is very important and involves the traditional attitudes and social institutions being overcome and replaced with the Western oness. Agriculture becomes commercialised with a growth in productivity. People move from the rural areas to the urban area.
    4. The “drive to maturity stage” is marked by the export of goods to the West and the country takes place in the international market.
    5. The last stage is “the age of high mass of consumption“ where the majority of the population lives in the urban rather than rural area, life expectancy is high and the citizens have access to health-care and free education.

    It can be argued if Rostow‘s theory is correct, the theory has receieved criticism for its assumption that traditional values are not compatible with the modern/Western values and further critisim include the environmental aspect, that consumerism of the Western societies does not offer environmental sustainable approach (Holden 2005).


    The Dependency Theory

    The Dependency Theory arose as a reaction to the Modernization Theory, dependency theorists rejected Rostow‘s theory, arguing that the undeveloped countries are not only primitive version of developed countries. The poorer countries provide cheap labour force and natural resources, without those countries the wealthy nations could not maintain their high standard of living (Holden 2005).



    Figure 2. The World System Theory Model. Source: (Wallenstein 2004).


    The World system theory was created by Immanuel Wallerstein who is an American sociologist, historical social scientist and world-system analyst. Earlier Marxist theories proposed similar ideas. The theory which is significantly influenced by the dependency theory, explains that the rich core capitalist societies succeed by exploiting poorer peripheral ones. In between are semiperipheral societies, a precarious middle class. The periphery therefor can only advance through global revolution that will end the world capitalist system (Smelser & Balter, 2001). Figure 2 is a visual explanation of how the periphery delivers cheap labor and raw materials to the core/rich societies and the high profit consumptions goods coming from the core. 


    Economic Neoliberalism

    Neoliberalism is a form of recovery of economic liberalism; it plays an increasingly important role in international economic policy since the 1970s. However the meaning of neoliberalism have changed over time, economists do not agree about the meaning of neoliberalism. David Harvey is the distinguished professor of anthropology and geography at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York. His work conceptualises the neoliberalised global political economy as a system that benefits few at the expenses of many and has resulted in class distinction. Harvey mentioned that Neoliberalism aroused in consequence of:

    1. Oil supply from the Middle East to the West is restricted.
    2. The debt crises in the 1970s to the 1980s engulfed the entire capitalist world.
    3. Lack of confidence in the government to solve the problems of poverty and underdevelopment. (Larner, 2009)

    Neoliberalism focuses on privatization and free markets. The World Bank and the leader of American and British are supporters. The U.S. leader Reagan had a speech in Mexico which clarifies the characteristics of neoliberalism, including the advantages and applications of free market principles, as well as the trickle-down growth. Growth trickle-down argued that the government would improve the whole economy by cuts the tax cuts and providing economic benefits for the wealthy, and ultimately will get the improvement of the poor in the society (Larner, 2009).

    Neoliberalism made it hard and conditional to access loans and finance supports. Government reduced the intervention in economy, resulting in a market-orientated growth. Meanwhile, at the hand of this policy reform, the state reduced the protection of emerging industries, which included tourism. Tourism is like an export industry, and it’s growing rapidly. It is a significant method to earn foreign exchange, tourism is promising by many multinational companies. Tourism has greatly stimulated the economic growth of developing countries. Moreover some countries want to develop tourism as a means to falling commodity prices (Holden, 2005).


    Sustainability in Tourism

    Environmental and cultural resources are the products of modern tourism activities. It is the basic conditions for the development of tourism. The protection of society and environment is the basis of sustainable development of tourism industry.

    Sustainable development is important, it‘s not just about the environmental problems, but also closely related to economy and social development. Rapid economic growth may lead to temporary prosperity, but it is often followed by the destruction of environment.The theory of sustainable development emphasizes the problem of environment and economy is interwoven. In order to achieve the coordination development between social, economic and environment, the tourism enterprises and the government should correctly handle the immediate and long-term interests. Fennell (as cited in Holden, 2005) defines five goals for sustainable development of Tourism:

    1. Popularize the relative knowledge of tourism and sustainable development; highlight the important role that what tourism play in environment and economy.
    2. Promoting social equity and development.
    3. Improve the quality of life of community residents.
    4. Improve the tourist experience quality.
    5. Protect the environment so that the tourism industry can be maintained for a long term.

    Tourism resources are closely related to the landscape environment and human resources. Ecological tourism takes the concept of sustainable development as the premise to protect the ecological environment and takes a harmonious development between man and nature as the criterion. Based on the good natural ecological environment and unique human ecological system to develope tourism in a pleasure way (Holden, 2005).

    Tourism industry is a relatively young industry which involves economy, society, and environment. The study of tourism has significance role for the future sustainable development.




    Cooper, C. (2012). Essentials of Tourism. Harlow, England: Pearson Financial Times/Prentice Hall.,. (2015). Development Dilemmas - GCSE Geography. Retrieved 10 November 2015, from

    Holden, A. (2005). Tourism Studies and the Social Sciences. London: Routledge.

    Larner, W. (2009). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. By David Harvey. Economic Geography, 82(4), 449-451.

    Smelser, N., & Baltes, P. (2001). International encyclopedia of the social & behavioral sciences. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

    Wallerstein, I. (2004). World-systems analysis. Durham: Duke University Press.

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