Governments in LEDCs often see tourism as a vital source of income, which can be used for development, but tourism can create problems for host countries.
Tourism in an LEDC: advantages and disadvantages
A beach in Bali, Indonesia
Countries rich in physical resources - such as warm climates, beautiful beaches, rare ecosystems, and abundant plant and animal life - are often sought-after holiday destinations by people from MEDCs [MEDC: A More Economically Developed Country (MEDC) has high levels of development based on economic indicators such as gross domestic product (the country's income). ]. Tour operators and developers invest in these locations in the hope that they will become as popular as European resorts.
Places such as Kenya in East Africa, where tourists go on safari, or Bali in Indonesia, visited for its beautiful beaches, all benefit financially from tourism. However, tourism in LEDCs [LEDC: A Less Economically Developed Country (LEDC) has low levels of development, based on economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (the country's income). ] needs to be carefully managed to prevent harm to the environment and disruption to local communities.
The effects of tourism on LEDCs
Foreign currency spent by tourists can be invested in improving local education, health and other services.
Profits go to foreign companies, such as tour operators and hotel chains, rather than to the local community.
Jobs for local people are created and people can learn new skills in tourism services.
Foreign companies may bring foreign workers to do the skilled jobs; so local people only do low skilled, poorly paid work.
Construction creates jobs and develops skills for local people.
House prices rise when foreign companies and investors buy property for hotels and holiday homes. This often makes houses too expensive for locals.
Local infrastructure is improved as water and sanitation facilities, roads, buses, taxis and airports are provided for tourists.
Important projects for local communities might be sidelined as infrastructure developments are focused on tourists.
Visitors get an insight into local customs and traditions.
If the aim of activities is to entertain, rather than educate tourists, this may belittle the local people.
Tourists see beautiful landscapes, wildlife and plants. They can also be educated about the dangers to fragile ecosystems in the modern world.
Pollution and disruption to wildlife habitats could occur if tourism isn't sustainable.
Back to Tourism index
Destinations are not objective pleasures; there are horses for courses. And yet we judge a place or adventure by reputation. Paris in the springtime; a sundowner on safari; diving on the Great Barrier Reef: these are on most travel bucket lists. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll love them. Sometimes with travel, you need to get the circumstances right, you need to pick your moment, and you may need to revisit a site to rediscover it in your own way.
With more than 100 travel writers based around the world, the Telegraph Travel team has some claim to expeditionary expertise – but even the master makes mistakes; all it takes is one bad tip from a friend, and you might miss the trip of a lifetime.
We asked 10 of our favourite writers to challenge common wisdom and share their tales of the countries that surprised them, the places they dismissed – or embraced – in error. After all, places change. Reputations are often ill-deserved. The world is your playground: go test it out for yourself.
‘You have to choose ther right moment to make a place your own’
Some of the world’s best destinations are defined by their icons – a building, a landmark or a geographical feature. Australia’s Red Centre is fairly intangible, until you put a giant rock in it. Petra, the Red Rose City hewn from the rock, is what draws most visitors to Jordan and it would be unusual to visit Athens for the first time and not find yourself at the Parthenon.
But icons are tricky things. We want to feel what others feel; to satisfy that craving for awe and to leave with a feeling that the Thing was definitely worth the journey.
I’ve suffered dashed-icon syndrome at the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall and Niagara Falls, but it’s often the experiences you weren’t looking for that make enduring memories. At Angkor Wat, keen to make the most of Asia’s most famous temple, my boyfriend and I had booked a guide in the hope that the sprawling temple would be brought to life.
It wasn’t to be. Our guide had an agenda: to rattle through as many facts as possible. His delivery was humourless; his approach inflexible. Worse, he addressed only my boyfriend. I grew angry and abandoned them both. The boyfriend and I had a row.
The next morning we returned at sunrise with a friendly tuk-tuk driver. This was infinitely better, though there were still too many people – and too many mobile flashes – to get lost in the moment. We wandered off and, using our phones as torches, found two small ruined buildings just in sight of Angkor’s turrets. We stayed for two hours watching the growing light throw patterns on the earth through windows in the ancient stone.
Weather, the number of people, too much traffic, a guide you don’t gel with; there can be a number of reasons that the very thing you’ve come to see falls short. But you have to make it your own, stick around, build in enough time wander off – or simply accept that symmetry (as in the case of the Taj Mahal) is lost on you.
I've long been drawn to Australia's big skies, yawning landscapes and raw beaches. Anticipating disappointment I avoided Uluru – probably that country's most identifiable icon – for years. When I finally went, I arrived mid-afternoon in searing heat. There it sat, fat and orange. The mother of all boulders. That night, a miracle happened: it rained. Waking at 4.30am for a sunrise circumnavigation of the rock, I arrived at the hotel lobby to find a guide in waterproofs. “This happens once every seven or so years,” he said. “I hope our walk won’t be cancelled.”
The baked earth at Uluru’s base was flooded by pools of water. Every crevice and fold in the rock had yielded to the rain, cloaking the monolith in mini waterfalls. At the base were small trees, scores of edible herbs and homeopathic plants: an entire ecosystem. Desert peas, red as traffic lights, were having a moment in the gloom.
Here was the miracle of Uluru.
‘It is time to banish the rulebook on what constitutes good food’
Like all self-respecting foodies I have nibbled lambs’ testicles in Greece, slurped live scallops from their shells on Loch Crinan in Scotland and, in the Amazon, crunched on the “crackling” of suri, the fat-filled larva of the black palm beetle, roasted like pork and served with a slice of green banana.
At the other extreme, I’ve marvelled at Heston Blumenthal’s “meat fruit” – a perfect replica of a mandarin, filled with chicken liver parfait – at his two-Michelin-star Dinner in Knightsbridge, and plucked radishes from terracotta pots filled with hazelnut “soil” at Rene Redzepi’s Noma in Copenhagen. Obsessed with authenticity on the one hand and avant-garde creativity on the other, I’ve travelled the world in search of extreme gastronomic experiences.
In Valencia, I once toured the ornately tiled Mercado Central with a guide, seeking out the ingredients of a “real” paella: rice (which must be the Bomba variety), paprika, saffron, chicken, snails, duck, rabbit, green beans and buttery white lima beans (garrofon). “Never use stock,” warned my guide Josep, “or red peppers, or peas, or garlic. You see that elsewhere in Spain, but it’s not authentic. It is heresy, too, to mix chicken and seafood in a paella.”
Smugly I took notes and headed mischievously to Benidorm to see this “tourist” aberration for myself – a paella heaped with chicken and gambas, made with stock, perhaps even smothered in ketchup and served with a side order of chips in Benidorm’s English-style pubs and tacky, inauthentic restaurants. How wrong could I be? On Levante Beach (the “English” side of town), just yards from Burger King and the KM Club foam disco, the Jardín Mediterraneo restaurant listed 10 credible rice dishes including arroz de rape con almejas (monkfish with clams) and paella de marisco (seafood, perfectly acceptable).
Feeling let down, I wandered the old town’s restaurants looking for crimes against paella but the only tourist crowd-pleaser appeared to be paella especial (vegetables, meat and seafood mixed) – and it looked delicious.
On Poniente Beach (the “Spanish” side) I sat with local families in the ultra-civilised Barranco Playa restaurant and ordered arroz a la banda (“rice on the side”) – grains to which fish stock (aaagh!) has been added, served with a pungent aioli, or garlic (aaagh!) mayonnaise. Pale yellow and slightly burnt underneath, it was laced with tender pieces of squid – an ensemble that made “authentic” Valencian paella seem quite crude.
Perhaps it is time to banish the rulebook, abandon the extremes and find gastronomic pleasure in the commonplace, good food hiding in plain sight.
3. Ilha de Mozambique
‘You need to visit a place yourself to understand it fully’
I’d dreamed of visiting llha de Mozambique all my life, despite knowing it to be a ruin. The tiny Indian Ocean island for which Mozambique is named is a Shangri La for history buffs. Arabs settled it in the 10th century; Portuguese and Dutch traders fought over it. None of this made it a tropical paradise. But in 1975, when the Portuguese were expelled after a Marxist revolution, the island, along with the rest of Mozambique, fell into disrepair.
I knew only a handful of people who’d ever been to Ilha, and not one wanted to return. In 1994 my friend Jim nearly died of malaria on the island. A decade later my parents visited and reported finding only one hotel, no running water, and a beach that was used as a toilet. Still, I wanted to touch history, walk with its ghosts. I’d sleep in an alleyway if need be.
When I finally visited in November, I discovered something else. Far from being a wreck, it turned out to be the most elegant, atmospheric, uniquely stylish place I’ve ever set foot in Africa.
Accessed by a narrow, 3km-long bridge from the mainland, the southern part of the island – Macuti Town – is, indeed, grim. Most of the island’s 14,000 inhabitants reside here, crammed in reed and tin shacks. However, barely 500 yards north is Stone Town, a live-in museum of palm-shaded European squares, narrow Omani alleyways and grand Portuguese mansions, many currently being restored by artists, architects and enterprising locals.
I stopped at the first renovated building I found, Rickshaw’s Pousada e Café, a recently derelict bay-side warehouse. An American missionary named Rodger Schmidt, who started the cleanup of the island’s beaches when he arrived in 2006, is now employing the street kids he met then as concierges, chefs and waiters in his four-room inn and al fresco waterside café, which serves fine lobster curries.
A dynamic local mayor and governor got running water restored to Ilha in 2013, and about a dozen hotels have sprung up since. A Swedish architect has transformed three adjoining cashew nut warehouses into Villa Sands, replete with an open-plan waterfront lounge alongside which yachts and dhows docked.
I wandered the alleys and squares, spruced up since a street cleaning campaign. On the eastern side of the island stood the magnificent 16th-century Fort Sao Sebastio, rusted Portuguese cannon lining its ramparts. The Chapel, built in 1522 and the oldest European building in the southern hemisphere, stood solid on rocks at its base, waves crashing its walls, looking like something out of Game of Thrones.
Come dusk, local teenagers mixed mojitos from silver cocktail shakers in arched doorways; a woman served ice-cold beer out of a cooler box in a tiny building at the end of the pier. I ate the best seafood of my life: smoked marlin and seared tuna with ginger at Karibu. And I reconsidered my preconceptions: you need to visit a place yourself to understand.
4. The Falkland Islands
‘They were nothing like Emmerdale, nor England, nor indeed Argentina’
Like most British people, I first noticed the Falkland Islands in March 1982, when scrap-metal merchants raised the Argentine flag on remote South Georgia, a precursor to the South Atlantic War. A desperate act of jingoism on the part of General Galtieri, the outcome of his hubristic campaign is well known.
I turned 16 between the first act of war and the Argentine surrender in mid-June. During that time I learned, from the press and the gossip everyone indulged in, that the Falklands were a miserable, forgotten backwater, that “we” hadn’t looked after it for years, that the retaking of it was necessary, absurd, imperialistic, great fun and, conversely, that the “Argies” were evil, slippery cheats. Television news showed bleak tussocks, bruised skies, muddy young men, frightened and cold – murderous fireballs, dirty snow.
In 1991, I relocated to Buenos Aires to teach. Of course, “Las Malvinas” came up in conversation, as did “La Tatcher” [sic] and my opinion about who was right, who wrong. I wasn’t sure. In a bar, the brother of a fallen squaddie took umbrage with me and some other ingleses. At football matches, fans sang anthems insulting the British.
When I first flew down to the islands, in late 2006, what did I expect? To be frank, a mix of Emmerdale – in its farming days, with Amos et al – and League of Gentlemen, transported to a sad, sodden patch of Patagonian steppe, its residents most likely Right-wing Brits waving Union Jacks, shearing sheep and watching telly from back home to stave off boredom and depression.
But the house of my B&B host, Arlette, in Stanley, was a festive place. I spoke to well-travelled Falklanders about their shopping trips to Buenos Aires. I met Chilean expats and Falklanders with Argentine ancestry; I interviewed hydroponic farmers, nature lovers, local historians, fishermen, postwomen and a judge. All eyes were not on the divisive past, but on the hope-filled future. I saw how the islanders looked after a band of Asian sailors who had jumped ship to escape slavery. I visited the well-maintained Argentine cemetery. I went to a great local pub, ate superb toothfish, visited an excellent museum.
All this took place against a visually entrancing backdrop of frothing seas, sweeping white-sand beaches, wild inlets and secret coves, islets bustling with king cormorants and rockhopper penguins, elephant seals and black-browed albatrosses. Who couldn’t love such a place? I daydreamed about moving there, returning to teaching. I didn’t get round to that, but I did revisit, in 2014 – this time on an expedition cruise, and marvelled all over again at the wondrous archipelago.
It was nothing like Emmerdale, nor England, nor, indeed, Argentina. The Falkland Islands are a genuine planetary one-off – if you like your air clean, your seas emerald, your birdlife big and beautiful, and your beer well-kept, give it a go.
5. Ho Chi Minh City
‘On day two, I started to love the energy and the sense of enterprise’
It seemed perverse not to take advantage of a change of flights and see something of Vietnam. So I arranged a stop-off at Ho Chi Minh City on the way back from Cambodia. Guide book entries for Vietnam’s largest conurbation tend to be opaque, if not downright disheartening. Surely there would be redeeming features. Yet as I travelled through Cambodia, a couple of fellow travellers regarded me with discernible pity. After the quiet of Cambodia I’d find Vietnam a shock, they said. They’d travelled the length of the country and in their experience the very worst of Vietnam was Ho Chi Minh City – it was, they told me, a nightmare of ugliness, pushiness and appalling traffic.
And so it seemed on the first of two days in Ho Chi Minh City, when it took me 15 minutes simply to cross the road outside my hotel. A relentless stream of scooters bore along the four-lane highway where pedestrian lights allowed scant time even to reach an island. Not that there seemed much cause to cross any road: this skyrise city retains little of its pre-Vietnam War incarnation as elegant Saigon (although locals still refer to the city by this name). I took a long-winded walk to Ben Thanh market, which seemed a hive of aggressive hawkers.
Yet on the second day I got into the swing of things and started to love the energy and sense of enterprise. It began with a couple of women escorting me across the road; all smiles, they went out of their way to usher me over the next crossing. Thereafter I simply tagged along with a (usually genial) local. Now navigating the bustle with confidence, I took in the poignant War Remnants Museum; I got a fix of French colonial architecture at Notre Dame cathedral; I cheerfully bargained for local handicrafts; and I spent the late afternoon in one of the city’s many high-quality, low-cost spas.
Best of all, it transpired, were the scooters. Of course it’s inadvisable for the uninitiated to take the driving seat in Ho Chi Minh City, but ride pillion and you really feel part of the place. I went on an evening scooter tour with Vespa Adventures on which I was taken, zooming through the city, to eat fabulous food at little local cafes – seafood here, Vietnamese pancakes there. Then my guide scooted me on to a tiny venue where live folk music was being played to a rapt Saigonese audience. I was enthralled.
6. Paradise Island
‘The name evoked a place of heat, luxury and healthy bodies coiled in healing shapes’
The novelist Nelson Algren said you should never play cards with a man called Doc, and never eat at a place called Mom’s. As an addendum, I’d suggest: never go on holiday to a place called Paradise.
Fifteen years ago, after a month in the exclusion zone around the nuclear power station at Chernobyl, I became paranoid about my health and decided that a good antidote would be to spend Christmas at a yoga retreat in the Bahamas. It was the Sivananda Yoga Centre on Paradise Island. After the radioactive pine forests of northern Ukraine, those words alone evoked a place of heat, luxury, tropical juices, and healthy bodies coiled in healing shapes.
The first snag was the unexpected weather. From the moment I arrived, it was overcast and chilly. The centre, which had been on the island since the Sixties, felt both institutional and a bit run-down. Greetings from the staff and announcements over the tannoy were prefaced by a cheery: “Om namah shivaya!” There were yoga classes morning and evening and a kind of dawn assembly called Sat Sang that all the guests were encouraged to attend. Twice a day, we ate big meals of flatulent vegetarian food. There was no booze, coffee – or indeed, garlic. And was it just me, or was there something sanctimonious about some of of the other guests and their humourless self-development?
Attempting to salvage something from the holiday, I threw myself enthusiastically into the yoga practice. On the second morning, I put my back out. I tried to rectify it by getting a massage from the resident reflexologist, a crusty American called Ed, who seemed to have been there since the ashram was founded. I remember blaming the cold weather and the obligatory morning yoga. Ed harrumphed at me: “Just because it’s obligatory, that doesn’t mean you have to do it!”
I think that if I’d been alone, I might have got through the 10 days somehow, but I was there with my girlfriend and there was no way we could conceal our disappointment from each other. We told the staff that something had come up, got a voucher for the unused part of our stay, and did a flit to the Club Med on the other side of the island. That wasn’t paradise, either, but by that stage, I was happy to get a hot bath and a glass of wine. Somewhere, I must still have a refund voucher from the yoga centre, but I have never felt the need to return to Paradise Island. However, I have been back to Chernobyl.
7. Swedish Arctic
‘As Roald Amundsen said, sometimes adventure is just bad planning’
We’d been in the Arctic for less than half an hour and already my daughter was in tears. Deep banks of snow had proven impossible for Ella to resist and, having ripped off the two pairs of gloves I’d insisted she put on, she’d plunged hands into the sparkling white powder, freezing them. Moments later, she was howling. We’d not yet made it out of the airport car park.
A primary school child isn’t an obvious Arctic travel companion. But surely sensible Scandinavian systems would be in place to manage all that frozen wilderness, I’d reasoned. Organised tours aren’t regular features of our family holidays but, faced with daily temperatures of -25C and near-continual darkness, going off-piste, even in the car park, was clearly out.
Cross-country skiing, husky sledding, reindeer herding, and skidoo driving, meanwhile, were accessible adventures, if meticulously planned and led by locals who consider sub-zero Lapland their playground.
So, under a magical boreal blue half-light, we explored the Great White North; a place enshrined in so many books of childhood. We met reindeer with velvet antlers and inquisitive noses, we skated out over frozen lakes past igloos and deep ice fishing holes. All the while, Ella’s enthusiasm dwindled. Chivvied on and off tour buses, and into an endless round of skis and snowshoes, all the while mummified by an all-in-one ski suit, balaclava, several layers of thermals and those two pairs of gloves, a jaded resentment was setting in.
I finally realised I’d got things very wrong when the hotly anticipated husky sledding trip resulted, again, with Ella in tears. Triple-socked feet crammed into boots, her cramped toes were threatening frostbite. “But when do we get to PLAY in the snow?” she demanded. That’s exactly what I’d thought we were doing.
I conceded defeat, eschewed the chance to skidoo through a frozen forest, and we headed for an early sauna. Layers discarded and bodies liberated, spirits rallied. We threw caution, and thermals, to the wind, pulled snowsuits over PJs and, borrowing a battered plastic sledge from the hotel lobby, whizzed again and again down the sloping driveway.
Ella whooped with glee as a bump ejected us into a snowdrift. We sat back and gazed at the vast Arctic sky which, as if in cosmic recognition of this simplest of pleasures, started to produce the faint green wisps of an aurora. Sometimes adventure, as the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen said, is just bad planning.
8. Saint Helena
‘Surprises are not always good on honeymoon; this one was’
On the map, Saint Helena is a dot in the Atlantic. In my cruise brochure it was not even that: it was a kink in the line marking a change in the ship’s course between Brazil and South Africa.
It was 2005 and I was planning my honeymoon. The idea was to have a few nights in Rio de Janeiro and then take a Silversea cruise to Cape Town. The trip proved serendipitous.
In Rio we unexpectedly caught the end of Carnival. And in Cape Town we would meet up with my cousin and her husband.
On the way was a day on St Helena, included on the cruise presumably as a chance to stretch one’s legs on land after five days at sea. Oh well, it was bound to be a curiosity: wasn’t that where we banished Napoleon? Besides, how many people could claim to have had a honeymoon on St Helena?
We almost didn’t make it. On the swell at the jetty, the ship’s tender behaved like a frenzied lift. St Helena’s job is to be inaccessible. It’s in the middle of nowhere, 1,200 miles from Namibia and 1,800 miles from Brazil. The Portuguese, who stumbled on it in 1502, kept it secret for 86 years. For the British it was the one place in the empire from which Napoleon was least likely to escape. Nor did he. He died on the island in 1821 and he hated the place. “This horrible rock,” he called it.
I loved it. Everything was surprising. It’s spectacularly beautiful: an immense volcanic stump, spiky with verdant peaks, it thrusts from the ocean on thousand-foot cliffs. Nature had to make the landscape vertical: it was the only way to fit so much scenery into 47 square miles. Part tropical forest, part Yorkshire Dales, there’s even a coppery desert.
Jamestown, where we landed, is a little English provincial town with bobbies on the beat and pounds in the tills, laid along the bed of a deep valley. Near the middle of the island is Longwood House, where Napoleon ended his days. It’s a low whitewashed building with green shutters, owned by the French and crammed with Napoleana. The French tricolore flies in the garden. Surprises are not always good on honeymoon. St Helena was.
‘Where was the concrete brutality I had assumed to be total?’
Just below the lounge, with its cushions and coffee pots, I could see several short flights of stairs descending carefully towards the sea. I followed them, past the swimming pool, down the cliff-face to the beach. Although it was still relatively early, just after 9am, a group of young guests was already stationed on the shingle.
One of them decided that her time had come and, fixing her brown hair in a ponytail, took a running leap from the rocks. Momentarily, I lost her, her outline devoured by the swarthy green of the Karaburun Peninsula beyond. But then she landed with a giant splash, surfaced with a smile – and, letting out a whoop of unfettered glee, demanded that her friends join her. They required no second invitation.