A historical analysis of enclavisation in tourism takes us back to the mid-1960s when, post World War II, the process of decolonisation was gaining strength globally. The economic revival of erstwhile colonial powers in Western Europe and the emergence of new economic powers like the US and Japan created a class of people with high disposable incomes that simultaneously generated high demand for leisure and holidays. In this scenario, countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America that had formerly been colonies and had now gained their political but not their economic freedom became ideal locations for creating tourism enclaves to specially satisfy the leisure needs of Western tourists. By the way, tourism enclavisation has a crucial impact in many different aspects and zones of this special kind of human and instruments business.
The historical link that erstwhile colonial powers had with their former colonies could have been a possible cultural impetus for creation of tourism enclavisation. This process was abetted by liberal loans by international financial institutions like the World Bank and IMF to newly independent countries for creating such enclaves, on the argument that tourism growth would create jobs and bring in much-needed investment into these nascent economies. Thus, the first tourism enclaves of the world were built in Kenya, Egypt, Gambia, Caribbean islands like Jamaica, Barbados, the Dominican Republic and St Lucia, Mexico, Indonesia, Tunisia, Morocco and Tanzania to cater to tourists from Britain, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Japan – their former colonial powers.
Tourism enclavisation is a high potential and capacity to make an amazing impact on tourism different aspects, so tourism dealers and experts consider tourism enclavisation in their plans and strategies. It did not take long for the first signs of trouble to appear of how such tourism enclaves were impacting the lives of people in these newly created destinations. The intense resource usage by tourism establishments, the resultant environmental pollution, widened income inequalities and socio-cultural effects are some of the adverse impacts that emerged and have been associated with tourism enclaves around the world. Economically, these enclaves were exploitative of the region’s natural and labour resources but ended up being non-remunerative as communities waited endlessly for some part of what tourists spent on their holidays to ‘trickle down’ to them.
Nothing symbolises the impact of enclavisation in tourism better than the case of the infamous Zona Hotelera in Cancun, Mexico – an artificial creation that transformed a sleepy settlement of fisherfolk and coconut farmers into a banker’s dream of 30,000 rooms. Between 1971 and 1993, Mexico was granted seven loans for large-scale tourism projects totalling $457.5 million. In 1973, FONATUR – the national trust fund for tourism development – was set up to oversee the development of large-scale tourism projects across the country and to aggressively seek foreign and domestic investors as well as secure development loans from international institutions such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and World Bank.
The basic characteristic of heritage is that it is grounded in territory. National cultural heritage is linked to the territory of an actual state, and, keeping in mind some earlier historic parameters, it is difficult to change the national sign of a certain cultural set of heritage. Multiple historic layers and the changes of borders of a national territory should be seen today as richness in the mutual permeation of individual national cultures and influences. Non-material culture is connected with people, while material culture is connected with territory. We have to take into account that cultural heritage on the territory of a state or a region can be enriched with the remains and traces of earlier cultures and earlier peoples who inhabited the territory over time and who contributed to the cultural environment as we know it now.
In the recent past, these experiences have helped highlight the adverse impacts of enclavisation in tourism. But sadly, even with this enlightenment, enclavisation has not stopped but has only assumed new forms and found new locations. But what is important to consider from the historical experience is that the process of enclavisation in tourism needs a strong economic impetus and a conducive social climate or impetus that demands such leisure products.