A sizable minority of Canadian survey respondents believe tourism drives up housing costs and exacerbates crowding in public spaces. However, a definite majority credits tourism for generating income, creating jobs and spurring social, cultural and recreational opportunities that benefit everyone.
While half these respondents perceive they live in a city with a high number of tourists, more than half agree tourism has positive attributes and fewer than half complain of negative fallout. The 1,000 Canadians participating in a recent 15-country survey sponsored by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) hold a more favourable view of tourism and are less likely to fault its drawbacks than the average across the entire 12,000-response database.
More than 58 per cent of those surveyed live in nine European countries — Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden or the United Kingdom — while 2,000 respondents from Canada and the United States provided North American insight. Residents of Argentina, Australia, Japan and South Korea also participated, contributing another 3,000 responses.
Across the entire database, 48 per cent of respondents agree tourism stimulates job creation, while 53 per cent of Canadians see a tourism-to-jobs connection. Fifty-two per cent of the total database says tourism generates wealth and income, compared to 56 per of Canadians respondents. Forty-five per cent of all respondents agree tourism increases housing costs, versus 41 per cent of Canadians. Forty-six per cent of total respondents link tourism to overcrowding in public venues like streets, shops and transportation networks, versus 43 per cent of Canadians.
Canadian respondents also endorse investments that benefit tourism and the wider community. Sixty-eight per cent support improvements to public facilities and infrastructure, while 82 per cent favour creation of attractions and events that can draw both tourists and local residents.
Tourism’s perceived impact on housing costs varies from country to country, but in most cases a sizable minority — 41 to 47 per cent — suggests it pushes prices upward. That surges to the majority viewpoint among Korean, Spanish and Argentine respondents.
In some cases, the perceived negative aspects of tourism seem to be a consequence of its benefits. Higher than average numbers of Argentine, Australian, Korean and Spanish respondents see tourism as positive for economic development, including job creation and prompting new leisure and cultural pursuits within the city, and for enabling intercultural exchanges. However, they also report a higher degree of cost and crowding impacts. Elsewhere, nearly three quarters of Swedish respondents believe tourism stimulates investment in new amenities and activities, but 55 per cent also think it increases crowding on the streets, public transportation and retail outlets.
Across the entire database, 46 per cent of respondents suggest tourism contributes to overcrowding, 45 per cent say it boosts the cost of housing, goods and services, and 36 per cent say it increases the cost of transport. Forty seven per cent think their city draws a high number tourists, ranging from a high of 68 per cent among Australian respondents to just 33 per cent of French and Japanese respondents.
Japanese respondents are the least enthusiastic about tourism benefits — with only 25 per cent linking it to the generation of wealth and income, and only 28 per cent seeing a connection to job creation — yet, they also voice the lowest level of complaints. Fewer than 30 per cent tie tourism to rising housing costs, significantly diverging from the sentiment in other countries.
Respondents in the United States also consistently express below-average faith that tourism benefits culture or the economy, with 48 per cent agreeing it generates income, 44 per cent agreeing it stimulates job growth and 42 per cent suggesting it creates intercultural exchange and inspires new leisure activities and events.