Tourism is recognised as an agent of social and cultural change, especially for indigenous communities. In many cases, tourism has been identified as both a force for cultural enrichment or rejuvenation and the loss of cultural integrity. Description, after the effect, typifies the literature, with few attempts to be predictive of the impact tourism might have. This paper presents a model of cultural change derived inductively from interactions with communities of the Asia Pacific region. It identifies that cultural expressions, the 'physical' manifestation of culture, are often a 'product' for tourism. Many host communities trade cultural expressions for benefits that tourism can provide. As such, cultural expressions are a direct link between a host culture and the tourist. The model proposes that cultural expressions are linked and that a change in one affects others. The magnitude of change to a cultural expression, and flow-on effect, depends on the significance of the cultural expression to the culture, the number of links and the strength of these links, determined by practice and its contribution to maintaining social structure and providing physical benefits to the individual and community. The model of the change process in expressions is presented as a heuristic device as well as a prognostic tool for cultural impact assessment. The paper identifies how the model can be used to provide insight to the likely changes that tourism might bring to an indigenous community considering developing tourism.
Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research / Vol. 9, No. 4, pp423-442