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Amanda Lee Temasek Polytechnic School of Business Leisure and Resort Management track, dance
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Changes brought about by the growth of tourism and tourism being a culpruit in commodifying culture and traditions
Friday, December 10, 2010 7:08 AMThere is always a reaction to an action; changes are definitely present due to the growth of tourism, is just that it may be positive or negative.
For the case of New Zealand, one of the important changes that tourism brought about is awareness of the Maori culture and people. Before the growth of tourism, their culture was declining and little measures could be taken to save it. Ever since the growth of tourism, especially in the area of cultural tourism, the Maori culture is being revived and continuously expanded in order not to lose it. This awareness allowed them to preserve their identity as the indigenous group of New Zealand and the uniqueness they bring.
With this, it leads to the next factor of cultural exchange. Tourism has brought about large amount of tourists visiting New Zealand especially to areas where Maori culture exists. This helps to reduce any ill feelings that may exist before between people and also a better understanding of each other. This also helps reduce any negative stereotyping of the Maori people.
Tourism brought about great developments in the country in terms of infrastructure as more activities are being developed specially for tourists. For example, in Rotorua new activities are being introduced in order to continuously attract tourists.
Due to the continuous influx of tourists, more manpower is needed at attractions, hotels and venues where tourists would be. Thus, this means that there is an increase in employment, lowering the unemployment rate of the country altogether.
However, there is always the second side to the coin.
From my point of view, tourism has brought about more positive changes to New Zealand in terms of economic. But the effects on her society and culture seem to be detrimental.
New Zealand is a multi-cultural roots country; it has many influences that make it vibrant. But, with increasing tourists’ influx, New Zealand would be more prone to cultural influence and erosion (in the case of the Maori). I think what the Maori are losing is not their culture and their identity, but they seem to be forgetting what their traditions and rituals are initially meant for and their original meaning. It would be a pity if they lose something they fought hard to sustain. Tourism might affect the overall New Zealand culture and cause confusion as it adds on to the influence, this would cause a change in New Zealand’s culture.
Tourism is definitely guilty of commodifying cultures and traditions, as can be seen in the Maori that their dances are use as performance services for tourists, in the modern era money always plays an important factor to the survival in the country. The indigenous Maori group has no choice but to succumb to the paid services as they need money to sustain their culture and current lifestyle. Tourism has made traditions and cultures of indigenous groups like the Maori visible to the world, causing a sense of privacy and sacredness of the culture and traditions to be vague.
I feel that New Zealand is a beautiful place that we should embrace and not destroy because it is unique. The Maori should be greatly respected for being able to keep their traditions alive and culture the way it is. I wish I can go back there once more (:
Lee Ya Yu Amanda