Academic journal article Cultural Analysis

Globalization in the Life of Small Island Towns: Changes for Better or Worse? the Case of the Island of Kos (Greece)

Academic journal article Cultural Analysis

Globalization in the Life of Small Island Towns: Changes for Better or Worse? the Case of the Island of Kos (Greece)

Article excerpt

Introduction

Globalization describes the process by which regional economies, societies and cultures have become integrated through communication, transportation and trade. The term is most closely associated with economic globalization: the integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, foreign direct investment, capital flows, migration, the spread of technology and military presence (Bhagwati, 2004). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "globalization" was first employed in a publication entitled Towards New Education in 1930, to denote a holistic view of human experience in education. However, it was only in the 1960s that the term began to be widely used by economists and other social scientists. Since its inception the term has inspired numerous competing definitions and interpretations. Most of them acknowledge the greater movement of people, goods, capital and ideas due to increased economic integration which in turn is propelled by increased trade and investment. Tom G. Palmer defines globalization as "the diminution of state-enforced restrictions on exchanges across borders and the increasingly integrated and complex global system of production and exchange that has emerged as a result". (1) Thomas L. Friedman argues that globalized trade, outsourcing, supply-chaining, and political forces have changed the world permanently, for both better and worse. He also argues that the pace of globalization is quickening and will continue to have a growing impact on business organization and practice (2008, 49).

Globalization and international tourism are interconnected processes. Tourism in the small island context involves people who come from other countries to enjoy the special atmosphere of living on an island. Usually, the tourists who come to the islands have been attracted by the image of the island environment: the sun and the sea, white sandy beaches and waving palm trees, lush vegetation and friendly natives. Tourism thus depends for its success on the quality of environment, and good tourist development requires protection and even improvement of the environment.

Economically, tourism can create jobs for local people and bring money. However, many tourists like the comfort they are used to at home, and increasingly, import a large part of their requirements, so that much of the money may leave the country again to pay for these imports. Moreover, if the hotels have been financed by foreign investors, they want to export their profits. The social impacts may also be important. Tourists often come from other societies with different values and lifestyles, and because they come seeking pleasure, they may spend large amounts of money and behave in ways that they themselves would not accept at home. Out of ignorance or carelessness, they may fail to respect local customs and moral values. Overall, tourism tends to be a mixed blessing in its benefits and impacts on the island environment. If it is allowed to grow unplanned, it can have serious social and environmental repercussions while providing little real economic benefit. If developed with care, it can bring advantages to small island communities with few other resources (Dahl, 1982).

For Western and Northern Europeans the Mediterranean region has for a long time had a special aura of relaxed and restful atmosphere. In this case, it is similar to the Soviet Union, where the idea of rest and vacation was closely linked with the Black Sea. The local populations of both the Mediterranean and the Crimean and Caucasian coasts to a large extent live off tourism, yet they tend to dislike and despise holidaymakers. (2)

Likewise, the opening of borders following the political changes in Europe since 1990 has been often accompanied by opposing processes of closure at the level of the local society. Border regions are particularly interesting places for the observation of such phenomena as has been demonstrated by recent research (Green, 2005; Sutton, 1998). …

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