Enclave tourism: A simple explanation

Jul 30, 2019 | Learn about tourism, Tourism management, Types of tourism

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(Last updated on: 19/10/2020)

Enclave tourism is a popular tourism form found all over the world. But what is it? What is the meaning of enclave? What are the positive and negative impacts of enclave tourism? In this post I will explain what the deal is with enclave tourism. 

Enclave tourism

Enclave meaning

In order to understand the concept of enclave tourism, we must first understand the meaning of the term ‘enclave’.

An enclave is essentially an area that is cordoned off from the rest of society. In that area, the people are usually different from those outside. This may be due to cultural or ethnicity differences, for example.

I like to describe as it ‘being in a bubble’. Whilst inside you might be able to look out into a world that is different, but you are safe and secure inside this artificial community that has been created.

What is enclave tourism?

So lets put this into the context of tourism.

Enclave tourism is essentially tourism that takes place in a space that is segregated from the community outside. It is in its own ‘bubble’, so to speak.

Enclave tourism implies a conscious decision to segregate tourists from the general population. This is usually in the context of an all-inclusive environment such as a cruise ship, hotel or resort complex.

Enclaves are enclosed and self-contained physically, socially, and economically. This means that tourists have hardly any reasons to leave the enclave.

Types of enclave tourism

Enclave tourism is commonly found in areas that are popular amongst Western, package tourists. Destinations such as Sharm el Sheikh, the Costa Blanca and southern Turkey are popular enclave tourism destinations.

When tourists purchase an all-inclusive package holiday product they are typically segregated from the local community. They will likely be collected at the airport by a Western Holiday Representative and transported to their hotel in a bus. Here they will have access to a range of facilities such as swimming pools, spas, beaches and gyms as well as food and drink establishments and entertainment (kids, sport, evening etc).

For the tourist, there is no need to leave the confines of their enclave, as everything is provided for them inside.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpqVuB9ijf8

Likewise, the cruise industry is one of the biggest culprits of enclave tourism. 

Cruise tourists have everything provided for them onboard the ship. Whilst they will disembark to make use of the features offered to them at various destinations, such as beaches or tourist attractions, they will spend minimal money and and minimum interaction with members of the local community.

Positive impacts of enclave tourism

Enclave tourism is designed to keep tourist communities and the local population apart.

In some ways this is a good thing. Separating tourists and indigenous populations in this way can help to limit offence that could be caused. For example, if the tourism is taking place in a strict Muslim country, it might not be appropriate for tourists to walk around in their swimwear. The enclave offers a separate environment where this can occur without any issues.

Enclave tourism in this way also provides the opportunity for tourists to have a holiday where they are free from judgement. The community created is likely to consist of like-minded individuals who have similar interests and behaviours. Social drinking or smoking, for example, may not be acceptable outside of the enclave, but is perfectly welcome behaviour inside the enclave.

Negative impacts of enclave tourism

The negative impacts of enclave tourism, however, far outweigh the positive impacts in most circumstances.

Enclave tourism results in very little financial benefit being directed towards the host community. Local people give up their land and their resources and in return will have very few benefits.

In some cases, in places like the Maldives and the Caribbean, as much as 95% of income from tourism leaves the country again through economic leakage. In other words, the destination makes very little money. In fact, enclave tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the negative economic impacts of tourism

Many examples of enclave tourism operate only to suit the needs of the profit-making organisation. They will often employ foreign people and import foreign goods. This reduces the economic benefit of tourism to the destination even further.

Enclave tourism

Typically associated with package holidays, all-inclusive holidays and cruises, enclave tourism is a populate tourism form the world over. However, it is not as great as it may seem and there are many disadvantages of enclave tourism, particularly to the local community. This is why I do not take part in any form of all-inclusive tourism (you can read more about that in this post). 

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Hi, am Dr Hayley Stainton

I’ve been travelling, studying and teaching travel and tourism since I was 16. Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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