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People travel to other environments for many reasons. Colorful history, vibrant culture, famous landmarks, beautiful nature are some of the key factors for visiting a country. But, there are also some other tourism forms, like medicinal tourism, sex tourism or drug tourism.
So how is drug legalization affecting tourism in legalized countries?
What in the World is Drug Tourism?
Drug tourism is defined as traveling with the intent to obtain or use drugs for recreational or personal use. It is not strictly related to things commonly referred as drugs, and also includes tobacco and alcohol.
Why would someone go to another country to buy drugs? Well, there are many possible reasons:
A form of drug tourism could be crossing the border to buy cheap alcohol (such as Canadians going to USA because of heavy taxes on booze) or going to Amsterdam to smoke marijuana.
Partaking in drug activities while in other country can change your life for better or worse. Incentives for taking drugs are so different that it is hard to define a universal drug tourist.
Some people are drawn simply for the fact that they are doing something which is illegal in their country, while others may be seeking a spiritual experience in the South American Andes.
Whether we like it or not, availability of drugs can have serious effect on tourism. There can be positive effects, and there can be negative effects, it all depends based on the circumstances. Drug legalisation is a trend in rising, so a regulatory affairs consultant will be a position in high demand.
Here are the effects of drug legalization on tourism.
Increased numbers of visitors - Since a destination offers something that is not available in other countries, people will be interested to go there. Intent of their visit may vary, but we will get into this.
Boost to the local economy - Tourism is a major source of income for many people living in popular tourist destinations. Drug tourists are well, tourists! They spend money for staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, buying souvenirs, and paying taxes on legalized drugs!
National advancement - Foreign travelers increase the demand for higher standards in communication, healthcare, transportation, and other infrastructure in less developed countries. One example is the effort to make internet connection available in whole Thailand.
Is drug tourism good or bad? As with many complex things - it depends. When there is a good regulatory frame, drug tourism can have a net positive effect. Otherwise, it can cause serious problems for the country and its visitors.