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Tourism and Health Essay

Executive summary

Tourism is best described when people take expeditions to exotic destinations as a leisure activity. Tourists interact with different cultures and surroundings through travelling. It is impossible to separate health from tourism because tourists are exposed to various risks when they interact with the environment.

Adjusting to the varying time zones will affect the concentration levels of the tourist. Furthermore, an additional health challenges is the likelihood of contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). During the tour period, the tourists tend to be less responsible.

Health tourism is another element that portrays the association connecting tourism and health. The Asian countries are rising as potential medical tourist destinations because of their advancements in medical technology and knowledge.

Consequently, it is fundamental to explain these issues and outline the significant relationship between tourism and health.


Tourism is a leisure activity characterized by individuals visiting different locations that are foreign or local. It is central to acknowledge that the attractions within the tourism sector are not solely attributable to leisure, but other interests such as business and health.

Countries recognize tourism as an economic contributor that generates employment, tax revenues and earnings from fees. Moreover, it leads to regional development of host countries. The growth of tourism is steered significantly by the economic benefits of the industry.

The financial benefits of tourism are clear judging from the increasing commercials in international news centers, for example, Cable News Network (CNN) and magazines of tourism destinations. Consequently, it is clear that tourism positively influences the economic development of countries.

As the world witnesses the increasing scales of international tourism, concerns about the health dimensions of the industry are emerging. It is apparent that tourists visiting various tourist locations, for instance, tropical regions could encounter health risks.

The health organizations of the host countries play significant roles in identifying the health problems of travelers and providing guidance on how to evade the health risks (Henderson 104). Tourists are exposed to health risks in the unfamiliar environments because tourism activities involve international travel to areas with varying vegetation and climates.

The study aims to review the health complications that tourists usually face. It will also examine the risks and adverse health practices of international tourists.

The health risks of international travelers

Tourists are likely to encounter new cultures and experiences while enjoying leisurely activities. Exposure to these changes could influence the traveler’s physical health. It may also lead to the alteration of their behavioral patterns.

Any deviation of the tourist’s behavior can be attributable to the demographic variables existing in the region (Taleghani, Chirani & Shaabani 547). Furthermore, the tourist can sustain injuries during transport or demanding physical tasks during the tourism venture.

The injuries can bring about serious health challenges to the tourists (Henderson 105). Excessive utilization of alcoholic beverages and beverages that are common among tourists also raises health concerns. Sun tanning is a common activity among tourists; however, it can have adverse consequences due to the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiations.

This means that excessive tanning increases the health risk. The sleep patterns of the tourist change in relation to flight hours and numerous journeys.

Furthermore, casual sex is prevalent among tourists and presents substantial health risks to the participants especially if unprotected (Henderson 104). Consequently, it is fundamental to acknowledge the potential health risks of tourism.

Excessive exposure to the sun

The tourist programs include leisure activities that expose them to sunlight. This predisposes them to premature ageing and skin cancer if the exposure is extreme. Most of the tourists enjoy the beach activities and tanning under the sun’s glare. The UV part of the solar is critical in several processes involving the biosphere.

It exhibits beneficial effects but can be harmful when it exceeds its fundamental limits. Frequent exposure of the skin to sun radiation can accelerate the generation of cancerous cells on the skin. Although, the UV-B radiation has a higher ability to tan the skin, it is more damaging than the UV-A radiation.

The radiation emanating from the solar rays differs based on environmental parameters, indicating that UV exposures can be damaging to tourists. Consequently, tanning that is considered an enjoyable activity should be regulated because of its effects on health.

Most women believe that tan gives them a more natural look of beauty that is different from their original appearance and elevates their levels of self-esteem. Additionally, tanning is associated with feelings of fashion and sexuality. Based on this assumption, tanning has become an accepted norm among tourists and beach lovers during their holiday expeditions.

During the midday hours, the sunrays are at their most damaging state; however, tourists bask during such a time. Exposure to the sun for long hours causes an abnormal redness of the skin that can later translate to other skin infections. The continuous exposure by the tourist to the UV radiations can inflict irreversible damages to the skin since recovery of the ozone layer is slow.

This can present the respective tourist destinations with health challenges that can injure the public image of these destinations. The tourist locations can encourage the travelers to utilize protective clothing to mitigate their exposures to UV light. Additionally, the use of appropriate sunscreens is an efficient way of shielding tourists from skin cancer or sunburn complications.

Alcohol Consumption

During the tourism experience, it is easy to overindulge in alcoholic activities. The excessive use of alcohol can distort the cognitive functions of the tourist. According to Henderson (107) indulgence in such activities during tourism expeditions is considered a normal process among tourists.

Henderson further states that regular drinking especially when it exceeds the recommended limits can be harmful to one’s health. Indeed, there is no recognizable limit of safe drinking and daily indulgence in this activity can lower one’s health level.

Some of the immediate effect that the tourists could experience includes cirrhosis and accidents from automobiles (Page & Connell 502). Cirrhosis reduces the liver’s ability to conduct its functions making the concentration of the body fluids unbalanced. The liver is responsible for accumulating the fluids ingested into the body, including alcohol, and breaking them into harmless by-products.

Thereafter, these by products are removed from the body. These components make the concentration levels of blood and other body fluids toxic because the liver does not purify such fluids. This poisonous state distorts the normal functioning of the body and increases the vulnerability of the tourist.

An additional probable condition entails the development of cardiovascular complications. Based on excessive drinking patterns, the blood platelets are likely to clamp together into blood clots. This is ultimately dangerous for the drinkers because it can cause heart attack.

Moreover, alcohol can affect the strength of heart muscles that alter the heart rhythm. Subsequently, this adjusts the pattern of blood circulation in the body. The irregularity of the heart rhythm is denoted as atrial or ventricular filtration. Additionally, the tourists consume more alcohol than normal during the holidays. This becomes an incentive for them to engage in careless mannerisms.

This increases the individual’s ability to get involved in conflicts and arguments. For example, when a tourist consumes a vast quantity of alcohol, he/she could probably start shouting or acting hysterically (Page & Connell 504). These behavioral characteristics are not healthy for the promotion of tourism and can eventually lead to bodily harm.

The tourist can initiate physical confrontation with some of the locals leading to conflicts. He or she will be outnumbered because the locals are many and may be brutal. One of the alcohol health effects that are undetected is memory lapse. The tourist risks developing serious changes in the brain after consuming considerable amounts.

This can develop through the direct influences of alcohol (Page & Connell 505). As the degree of alcohol increases, the degree of impairment also rises. Consequently, the potential of memory lapses is high when considerable volumes of alcohol are taken. Apart from that, alcohol can cause detrimental implications from travelling such as heat exhaustion and motion sickness.

Crossing Time zones

The crossing of different time zones can affect the health of the travelers. Regardless of the form of travel that the tourists are using, they are likely to develop jet lag or time zone ailments. Jet lag entails body reaction to rapid changing of time zones (Brunette 65).

Seasoned fliers such as tourists also suffer from the health problem. Travelers who frequently take flights indicate that they experience distortion of their sleeping patterns after flying eastwards or westwards. Additionally, motion sickness is common amidst tourists after the brain receives contradictory signals about movements.

According to Brunette (67), turbulences and occasional vibrations initiate motion sickness during travel. Motion sickness can subject the tourist body to numerous health complications (Spira 1376). These include ear pressure results from variations in pressure during travelling.

For example, if a plane ascends, the pressure in the cabin decreases whereas the pressure in the ear sinuses increases bringing about discomfort. If the airplane descends, there is an increase in cabin pressure and pressure within the ear diminishes.

This inhibits the pressure from equalizing. The airlines and transport companies sometimes give the travelers candy to equalize the air pressure.

Sleep disturbance is inevitable when the tourists travel for more than three time zones. Symptoms comprise of insomnia, headache and irritability. During westward travel, the tourists tend to awaken earlier causing irritability. A tourist that would normally awake at 8 am will have to wake up at 5 am.

This means the traveler will have to alter their local time sleeping house after traversing three time zones. It will be difficult for the traveler to adjust to the time zones.

Alternatively, tourists who are travelling eastward experience long days. This causes daytime drowsiness and amnesia (Spira 1377). Additionally, it influences the concentration capabilities of the tourists. Consequently, the tourists endure disorientation during the travel.

Physicians suggest that utilization of melatonin supplements enable the travelers to mitigate adverse effects of the sleep cycle. Melatonin is a hormone that controls the sleep cycle of individuals. Interestingly, research suggests that extroverts tend to adapt fast than introverts to the time zones.

Since the body temperature takes longer periods to adjust to time zones, it makes the body vulnerable to potential infections. Dehydration also occurs during the crossing of the time zones. However, there are several strategies to reduce the adverse impacts of travelling along conflicting time zones.

First, the tourist should avoid alcohol and caffeine that tend to alter the sleeping patterns and contribute to dehydration (Taleghani, Chirani & Shaabani 551). The travelers should take more of water and fruit juices. This will quell dehydration emanating from the disruption of eating and drinking patterns (Inkson 335).

Another strategy would be trying to rearrange one’s time schedule to that of the tourist destination. This will assist avoid the sleeping disorders that tourists experience during their travels. Arrangement of medicines to take in order to the effects of the different time zones would also be beneficial.

Exposure to unfamiliar diseases

According to World Health Organization (53), the exposure to the various infections is dependent on the areas that the tourists visit. The different localities can contain infectious agents and the traveler’s encounter with these agents will result in health problems.

The hygienic situations in the area and mannerisms of the traveler will also determine their health. Some of these diseases could be avoided through vaccinations.

Channels of transmission and Precautionary measures

The transmission channels of the infectious diseases differ according to their composition.

Vector Borne diseases

These are diseases transmitted through insects, for instance, mosquitoes and tsetse flies. These insects are numerous especially in the tropical regions. Bites from the insects could cause “malaria, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever” (World Health Organization 54).

Similarly, tick bites are harmful because they can cause tick-borne encephalitis (Brunette 86). Tourists can utilize sleeping nets to control mosquito infections. This will fight off mosquitoes. Additionally, they can avoid areas where other insects reside.

Waterborne and Food borne diseases

Random eating and drinking are activities that tourists usually indulge in repeatedly. The consumption of contaminated food or drinks could present health complications to the travelers (World Health Organization 53). This is also influenced by the hygienic state of the environments the tourist is visiting.

For example, if the hotel that houses a tourist has poor water purification systems, the tourist is likely to get typhoid fever or cholera from the water intake. The food borne ailments could also occur in the form of diarrhea and hepatitis A.

The stomach is a sensitive organ meaning that contamination could substantially affect the well-being of the tourist. The World Health Organization (53) indicates that the dangers of these infections can be addressed by undertaking hygienic precautions during food consumptions. Restraint from direct contact with polluted water will limit the possibility of infection.

Airborne diseases

These are dangerous infection channel because the tourists are unaware that they are inhaling infected nuclei from the air. The diseases that are spread through this approach include measles, pneumonia and pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). Sneezing constitutes a channel through which the infectious droplets are transmitted (World Health Organization 55).

Prevention of these airborne infections is challenging because the tourist can only recognize the infected individual by visually observing them. It is only after realizing that the individual is affected, will he or she avoid close contact with the sick person.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are associated with exploration and holidays. Sexual behavior among tourists and locals has been increasing leading to concerns about the HIV/AIDS pandemic especially in Africa. These diseases are transmitted through unsafe sexual interactions.

It is clear that AIDS weakens the immune capabilities of one’s body (World Health Organization 54). Presently, millions of people have the disease. Consequently, travelers who visit areas that have a higher incidence of HIV/AIDS, and indulge in reckless sexual behaviors are likely to be infected.

The correlation of tourism and sex is growing with hotels employing women to satisfy clients sexually. A considerable number of the tourists are young and may travel without their spouses. These variables compounded with increased alcohol consumption makes them less responsible.

Travelling also induces a perception of freedom convincing the tourist to engage in risky behaviors (Brunette 76). Indeed, sex tourism is rampant some Asian countries.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in such regions is unclear and becoming sexually active can pose significant health risks to the tourist. It is evident that the likelihood of acquiring disease is higher during the holiday than within the home environs of the tourist.

Health Tourism

Tourism has grown significantly to attain the state of a commercial enterprise. The major attractions ceased to focus on leisure alone but embraced business interests and health. The health of an individual is paramount because it allows one to feel comfortable with their body.

Additionally, the bodily functions reach their optimal state. Several countries are taking this awareness a notch higher. Gray and Poland (194) indicate that unlike normal tourism activities, medical tourists search for better medical services that are unavailable in their home country.

The rise of health tourism is due to the socioeconomic elements, for instance, uncertainty about the traditional forms of treatment, health costs and enthusiasm about alternative treatment therapies. Medical tourism does not only entail the treatment of severe ailments that include cancer or cardiovascular complications but also focuses on wellness services.

According to Viogt, Laing and Wray et al (6), health tourism is divisible into medical tourism and wellness tourism. Consequently, medical tourism is illness oriented because persons travel to cure certain medical complications while wellness tourists travel to destinations with the intention of improving their health and attaining higher levels of wellness.

Wellness tourism

Wellness health is a state of physical mental and social completeness and not merely lack of disease (Smith & Kelly 1). It is attributable to happiness rather than health. This confirms that wellness is more of a physiological condition.

Indeed, in many tourist destinations, there are increasing number of spas, retreats and pilgrimages. Tourism contributes to the wellness of tourists. According to Smith and Kelly (2), it is arguable whether the wellness routines that tourists partake could make a significant difference in their health.

Nonetheless, this argument is subject to scrutiny since adherence to a specific level of health also depends on the discipline of the individual. Some researchers imply that spirituality is the core of wellness tourism.

It is hard to refute this factor since the essence of indulging in the wellness centers is to not only seek relaxation but also satisfy the physiological needs (Viogt, Laing and Wray et al 15). The physiological dimension of a person is close to their spiritual side. This category of tourism is passive and involves less activity and enjoyment.

For example, most westerners visit the Eastern Asia nations to learn about their philosophies and therapies (Smith & Kelly 2). These activities involve yoga, meditation, therapeutic massages among others. Additionally, some seek to bathe in medicinal waters believing the water has curative abilities for some of their ailments.

Yoga has a positive influence on athlete performance making sport programs embrace the act. During the wellness experiences, some of the tourists adopt religious practices that focus on wellness practices like Buddhism (Smith & Kelly 3). The wellness centers are located in seclusion to conduct the wellness activities peacefully.

This means they are either on mountaintops of near oceans. The tourists are likely to engage with their inner-self, making their tourist venture more fulfilling in such environments. The pilgrimage of Hajj is an example of wellness tourism where an individual seeks spiritual wellbeing by travelling to a location and performing certain rituals.

The demand of wellness tourism is growing because several persons acknowledge the benefits of the wellness routines (Smith & Kelly 2). Most enthusiasts of wellness tourism participate in wellness activities for instance, yoga. Tourists seek to experience a substantial and long lasting impact of the wellness routines in their personal lives.

Medical tourism

Nations are broadening their market to accommodate international consumers. This is based on the advancements in medical technology resources and knowledge. This implies that patients from other nations requiring medical interventions are likely to acquire them in the countries that provide quality treatment at affordable costs (Lunt, Smith and Green et al 7).

The lifestyles of individuals are changing adding to the rising prevalence of chronic conditions. This occurrence propels the demand for better health products and interventions. Pocock and Phua (1) insist that most countries are aware of these opportunities, leading to the growth in the global healthcare subsystem.

Consequently, health industry is expanding rapidly in Southeast Asia. There is notable investment by the private sector that is now a multibillion-dollar enterprise. For example, there was an estimate 2 million medical tourists visiting Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia in 2006-7 (Pocock & Phua 1).

These visits generated over US$ 3 billion in medical expenses. These countries price their medical services competitively and specialize in various forms of ailment to boost other comparative benefit over the other medical providers.

Thailand is renowned for effective sex change operations and cosmetic surgeries while Singapore has specialized in cardiovascular and neurological operations. Travelling for medical purposes is not new because it has been present for long periods. The citizens from other counties are employing the services of medical tourism agents to facilitate their treatment based on increased globalization (Pocock & Phua 2).

This relieves the patients from the tiresome procedures that entail making the treatment arrangements alone. Sometimes the agents also participate in providing inexpensive air travel to the medical patients. Pocock & Phua (2) indicate that governments are participating in the promotional efforts of these markets of medical tourism.

This is evident Singapore and Thailand where the regulatory restrictions on medical tourist visas has reduced. This increases the inflow of medical tourists into the region.

Demand and Supply elements of Health tourism

One of the fundamental elements of demand is the presence of regulatory constraints (Gray & Poland 197). This is present in several developed countries. It limits substantial investment in medical tourism and presence of foreign operators.

Furthermore, the regulatory constraints culminate in lack of competitiveness in healthcare leading to reduced medical innovations. Costs and bureaucracy are the elements that determine demand in healthcare. The developing countries such as Singapore and Malaysia offer their services at lesser costs than the developed countries.

This lures prospective medical tourists to such countries. Consequently, it is vital to acknowledge that demand for health tourism is reliant on economic factors and accessibility to medical services.

Analyses of the supply perspective indicate that countries making rapid developments in health and medicine provide an appealing alternative to the medical tourists. The western methods of treatment and competence of health professionals encourage foreigners to undergo training in these countries.

Thereafter, they transfer knowledge to their respective countries (Lunt, Smith and Green et al 8). This has enhanced the growth of medical tourism in the private sector. The involvement of the private institutions and entrepreneurs has also enabled the channeling of investments to the improvement of medical facilities.

The developing nations have also poached physicians and nurses from their home countries, increasing their comparative edge in medical tourism.


There is a significant correlation between tourism and health. The study has highlighted that health risks are associated with tourist expeditions, for instance, UV radiations, infectious diseases and motion sickness. These complications occur during the travel and exploration processes among tourists.

Excessive tanning has been harmful because it could cause cancerous skin ailments. Additionally, it can affect the eye’s visibility if the tourist participates in activities that put him or her in the suns full glare for long hours. The health complications that arise from crossing time zones are equally pertinent and sensitive.

This entails motion sickness that brings about dizziness, unhealthy eating patterns and jetlag. Tourism expeditions majorly comprise of leisure activities alcohol abuse and sexual acts that are potential threats to the tourist’s health.

Medical tourism is equally a fundamental aspect of health that entails travelling to foreign locations to acquire curative or medical solutions.

This has grown significantly over the precedent years as apparent in Southeast Asian nations. The correlation between tourism and health continues to be significant as the society progress into the future.

Works Cited

Brunette, Gary W. CDC Health Information for International Travel 2012: The Yellow Book. Edinburgh: Mosby, 2012. Print.

Gray, Harriet & Poland, Susan. “Medical Tourism: Crossing Borders to Access Health Care.” Kennedy Institute of Ethics journal 18.2 (2008): 193-201. ABI/INFORM Complete. Web.

Henderson, Joan. Managing Tourism Crises. Rutledge, 2012. Print

Inkson, Clare. Tourism Management: An Introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2012. Print.

Lunt, Neil, Smith, Richard and Green, Stephen et al. Medical tourism: Treatments, markets and Health system implications: Ascoping review. 2011 (1): 1-55. Print

Page, Stephen. & Connell, Joanne. Tourism: A Modern Synthesis. London: Thomson, 2007. Print.

Pocock, Nicola. & Phua, Kai. Medical tourism and policy implications for health systems: a conceptual framework from a comparative study of Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. Globalization and Health. 2011. Print

Smith, Melanie. & Kelly, Catherine. Wellness Tourism. Tourism Recreation Research 31(1). 2006: 1-4. Print

Spira, Alan. Preparing the traveler. Travel Medicine. The Lancet. 361 2003 (1) 1368- 1381. Print

Taleghani, Mohammad., Chirani, Ebrahim & Shaabani, Atefeh. “Health Tourism, Tourist Satisfaction and Motivation.” Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research In Business 3.4 (2011): 546-55. ABI/INFORM Complete. Web.

Viogt, Cornelia., Laing, Jeniffer and Wray, Meridith et al. Health Tourism In Australia: Supply, Demand and Opportunities. Sustainable Tourism CRC, 2010. Print

World Health Organization. International Travel and Health: Situation As on 1 January 2010. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2010. Print.

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