Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Sitges: Impact of Tourism

Some Potential Benefits and Costs to the Community From Tourism


Social Benefits

  • Brings in outside euros to support community facilities and services that otherwise might not be developed.
  • Encourages civic involvement and pride.
  • Provides cultural exchange between hosts and guests.
  • Encourages the preservation and celebration of local festivals and cultural events.
  • Facilities and infrastructure developed for tourism (e.g. the promenade) can also benefit residents.
  • Encourages the learning of new languages and skills.


Social Costs

  • May attract visitors whose lifestyles and ideas conflict with the community's. An example may be the large number of gay tourists in July and August.
  • May change individual behaviour and family relationships.
  • May lead to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases.
  • May lead to the loss of traditional values and culture through imitation of visitor behaviour or cultural diffusion resulting from normal, everyday interaction.
  • Crowding and congestion on the roads and in the narrow streets.
  • Tourists compete with residents for available services, facilities, and existing recreation opportunities.
    Tourism seasonality
  • Leads to an increase in crime during the summer season.

Environmental Benefits

  • Fosters conservation and preservation of natural, cultural and historical resources.
  • Encourages community beautification and revitalization. Sitges has a sustainable development plan.
  • Could be considered a clean industry.

Environmental Costs

  • The development of a marina and breakwaters have cut off the supply of beach sediment, leading to the erosion of beaches.
  • Increase in litter, noise, and pollution.
  • May lead to the erosion of sensitive habitats in the Garraf Natural Park.
    Effects of trampling
  • Golf Course uses large quantities of scarce water and may lead to eutrophication and contamination of both the air and water.
    Impact of golf courses
  • Directly contributes to sewage and solid waste pollution.
  • Emissions generated by forms of transport  are one of the main environmental problems of tourism.
  • During the hot and dry months, tourism is heavily dependent on scarce water resources. Tourism seasonality
  • Increase in forest fires

Economic Benefits

  • Provides governments with extra tax revenues
    each year through accommodation and restaurant taxes, airport taxes, sales taxes,
    park entrance fees, employee income tax etc..
  • Creates local jobs and business opportunities. These include those jobs directly related to tourism (hotel and tour services) and those that indirectly support tourism (such as food production and housing construction).
  • The multiplier effect:
    • Brings new money into the economy. Tourist money is returned to the local economy as it is spent over and over again.
    • Helps attract additional businesses and services to support the tourist industry.
      Tourist multiplier effect
  • Is labour-intensive.
  • Earns valuable foreign exchange.

Economic Costs

  • Inflates property values and prices of goods and services.
  • Employment tends to be seasonal. Workers are laid off in the winter season.
    Tourism seasonality
  • Tourist numbers can be adversely affected by events beyond the control of the destination e.g. terrorism,  economic recession. This is a problem in Sitges for businesses dependent on tourism.
    Sitges employment structure
  • Tourism follows a 'product life cycle', with a final stage of decline, where the destination no longer offers new attractions for the tourist, and the quality has diminished with the rise of competition and tourist saturation. Sitges is a 'mature' destination which is addressing this problem with its local agenda 21 policies.
    Sitges sustainable tourism