Evan Due

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




D.R. Counts




This thesis examines the role of tourism in socioeconomic development in Sri Lanka. A broad structural approach is taken to depict tourism development within a historical framework and in relation to political strategies to development. The effects of tourism in the economy, on employment, and on social, cultural and political processes in Sri Lanka are given emphasis in the analysis.

The analysis is built around the tourist industry's articulation with foreign and local economic sectors. Types of tourism development are then defined and related to the effects of specific changes in socioeconomic formations. In this way the analysis provides valuable insights into the kinds of impacts modern mass tourism has on particular developing countries lacking infrastructure and involved in dependency-type relations with metropolitan states.

The results of the analysis show that capital-intensive tourism development does not contribute positively to development in Sri Lanka. Rather, such developments are characterized by high foreign costs, high employment costs, diversion of resources from local utilization and various sociocultural dislocations. On a structural level, this kind of tourism development undermines the objectives for self-sustained economic growth by creating an overdependency on foreign enterprises for foreign exchange earnings, employment and policy direction at the expense of local producing sectors. Thus, the experience of Sri Lanka indicates that rapid modern tourism development does not lead to greater internal integration and does not cater to the specific needs of the local people.

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