Globalization has a lot of definitions which tend to have the same meaning: it is “the worldwide movement toward economic, financial, trade, and communications integration”. There are also many aspects involved in this movement as it involves trade, transactions, migrations, investments, knowledge. The technological progress has changed the rules of the “game”. How could you imagine 50 years ago that we could be able to talk face to face with someone being at thousands of kilometers thanks to some inventions like Skype? How could you imagine that everyday people would cross the Atlantic in less than 10 hours? Thanks to the transport revolution, free movement and mobility have enabled openness to new cultures and countries. People now can travel easily all over the world and share knowledge.
However this share of culture and knowledge can lead to a “standardization” of the culture: in some places of the world, people are losing their identity! We could notice a global loss of local cultures, traditions, dialects, over the past years. There is an economic gap between the richest and poorest countries and the richest tend to influence the way of life of the poorest as they can export their culture more easily, bringing a “cannibalization” risk. A culture can make another disappear. Moreover it is often done in a non-sustainable way as an important part of this cultural integration is led by multinational companies trying to make profit. As an example you can find natives of remote villages of the Amazonian forest drinking Coca-Cola. Multinational companies have now more power than some nations! Their turnover is more important than the GDP of the last ones.
Policies have followed technologies as borders have been opened for instance in the Schengen area. This phenomena allows exchanges of capital, workforce and raw materials between the countries. As markets got opened, companies have experienced unlimited opportunities to grow. Globally the world has seen an improvement of its living standards. Indeed this new economic boom has led to a decrease of unemployment rates, a raise of the salaries and consequently the eruption of a new middle class in the emerging countries. The Third World countries have also developed a lot as many of them are no longer only exporters of raw materials. Emerging and poor countries are following the “Western” path. Apart of this, we could observe the better political stability that the Globalization process has brought in the world. “Westernization” drives the spread of democracy and human rights all around the world thanks to Education, NGO’s and so on.
But is really Globalization beneficial for all the countries at the same scale? The interdependence makes some of them more vulnerable to global crisis. Emerging countries have lower labor costs and this is a huge competitive advantage since Trade was made easier. Lower labor costs mean lower prices for the consumer so companies of the developed countries have to deal with this and they sometimes decide to outsource in order to avoid bankruptcy. It leads to unemployment. The benefits of Globalization are not for everyone. Actually it increased inequalities between and within the countries, cities and countryside. The wealth gap shows that the positive effects of Globalization have not been distributed equally. More than that, the economic growth has not been followed with a proportional advance of social rights in many parts of the world. Many borders got open but some remain closed. Illegal immigration has increased as people know better than before that they can have a better life with better socio-economic situation elsewhere.
Despite the positive sides of having a globalized world with people moving everywhere, it is also important to remind that Terrorism is also included in the process. We open borders not only for “good” people. So terrorists can also unify, exchange ideas and take actions easily across countries. Some extremists want to implement by brute force their doctrines not only at home but everywhere. People travel more than before, consequently there are more risks of rapes or attacks. The increase of terrorism also increases the danger for people travelling because of the instability of some regions of the world.
Finally let’s not forget the environmental damage that has come with the Globalization process over the last decades. More and more species disappear each year because of mass consumption & exploitation. The developed countries tend to protect their technological advances to remain competitive but by doing so they let emerging countries develop themselves by using a lot of polluting industry. The Tourism industry is developing faster and creates a mass Tourism which can badly affect the eco-system. The global warming is today a major concern for the entire world and the lack of rules and sanctions to fight it have been underlined. The environment being a common interest, companies and governments are taking a step together toward ecological awareness. Today we know that tackling global warming will only be possible if accompanied through the years by a sustainable development.
Globalization is already here and we cannot change the facts. However, as students in Tourism, we will be actors in the world of tomorrow. Although the globalization movement has begun many years ago, it is still a moving and growing process that can be controlled in a sustainable way. We know what are and will be the consequences of a non-sustainable development and this is why today we can say YES to a globalized world but ONLY under certain conditions.