The socio-cultural concept refers to a range of various social and cultural factors. The concept encompasses several values, beliefs, attitudes, and lifestyles that individuals practice in a given community. In several cases, the concept is a guide that governs the behavior and character of people living in a respective region or community.
Social values relate to a collection of factors that control the behavior of individuals and how they relate and interact with others in society (Sharma, 2004). Conversely, cultural factors comprise beliefs, customs, and norms that people from a particular community have concerning life and personality. Remarkably, culture is influential and determines the social setting of a community. It is fundamental to highlight that a combination of both factors results in the socio-cultural concept.
In tourism, the socio-cultural concept relates to the beliefs, attitudes, customs, behaviors, religious orientations, and lifestyles of tourists and host communities. While the host communities believe and practice certain values and customs, visitors have different cultural orientations and social beliefs. According to Richards and Hall (2003), the concept is very pronounced in the field of tourism since the field entails movement of individuals to different locations away from their homes or places of work.
A good example can involve people, who travel from places such as Europe to areas like Africa or Arabia. These individuals from Europe have unique lifestyles, whereas the hosts in Arabia or Africa have different socio-cultural values. As a result, their interactions can initiate culture shocks.
Due to the high mobility associated with tourism, the level of interaction with different communities is high. The diversity in the magnitude of inclination towards socio-cultural values transpires from the differences in income levels, exposure, and religious orientations. Therefore, several individuals in various communities experience a range of culture shocks when they interact with individuals from other communities either as hosts or as tourists.
One of the major socio-cultural factors that affect tourism negatively is culture shocks. The factor concerns the shock that tourists and hosts experience when they interact. Sharma (2004) explains that because tourists and hosts have socio-cultural values that are different and exclusive to the respective communities, they are likely to have a culture clash when they interact.
For example, when individuals who profess the Christian religion, travel to places like the United Arab Emirates where Islam religion is common, they experience culture shocks. Some factors that increase the tendencies associated with culture shocks include an imbalance in income levels between the hosts and tourists and irritation from tourists.
Imbalance in income levels happens when tourists visit areas that have low income and move around with large sums of money spending them in a careless manner in the presence of the hosts. Consequently, irritation occurs when tourists visit areas that have different socio-cultural values and ignore or neglect them thus, offending the hosts. The factor of culture shock is negative since it leads to loss of moral values in the host community and an eventual antagonism from the irritated hosts.
As a tourism operator in the region, I would ensure that the tourists get a clear explanation regarding the behavior that the hosts expect. Moreover, I would provide an in-depth description concerning the lifestyles, religious orientations, and values that the hosts abide by and anticipate from the tourists.
Notably, a clear explanation of the socio-cultural factors that govern the lifestyles of the hosts minimizes the challenges that occasion when tourists behave in an offensive manner. In essence, a written form of communication that describes the regulations and codes of conduct, which tourists need to follow during their stay, can accompany the verbal explanation.
Richards, G., & Hall, D. (2003). Tourism and Sustainable Community Development. London: Psychology Press.
Sharma, K. (2004). Tourism and Socio-Cultural Development. New Delhi: Sarup & Sons