What Are The Negative Effects Of Tourism On The Environment?

Unsustainable tourism can have significant negative effects on the environment of a region.

Tourism is usually regarded as a boon to a region’s economy. Tourism brings prosperity to the region and provides employment to the locals of the region. However, when tourism becomes unsustainable in nature, it can have disastrous consequences on the environment. When the tourist industry active in the region crosses the legal and ethical barriers to earn more profit, it can lead to massive degradation of the environment in the area. Local human population, flora, and fauna, suffer greatly due to such irresponsible and unsustainable tourism. Some of the ways in which tourism adversely impacts the environment have been mentioned below:

Tourism And Pollution

Transport Of Tourists Results In Air Pollution

The movement of tourists from their home to the tourist destination involves transport via road, rail, or air, or a combination of these modes of transport. When a large number of tourists are involved, it invariably leads to a greater use of the transportation system. We all are aware of the fact that emissions from automobiles and airplanes are one of the biggest causes of air pollution. When a large number tourists use these modes of transport to reach a particular attraction, it pollutes the air both locally and globally. Due to the rapid growth in international tourism, tourists now account for nearly 60% of air travel. In many places, buses or other vehicles leave their motors running to ensure that tourists return to comfortable air-conditioned vehicles. Such practices further pollute the air.

Tourism Leads To Noise Pollution

Tourists destinations are often subject to significant noise pollution. Tourists vehicles entering and leaving natural areas create a lot of noise. Such noise is the source of distress for wildlife. Loud music played by tourists in forested areas also disturb the animals living in the area. Often, noise generated by tourist activities for long-term alters the natural activity patterns of animals.

Littering Of Tourist Spots By Irresponsible Tourists

Irresponsible tourists often litter the tourist spots visited by them. Waste disposal is a great problem in the natural environment. According to estimates, cruise ships in the Caribbean produce over 70,000 tons of waste annually. If waste is disposed of irresponsibly in the sea, it can lead to the death of marine animals. Even the Mount Everest is not free of human-generated waste. Trekkers leave behind their oxygen cylinders, garbage, and camping equipment on the mountains and hills. Some trails in the Himalayas and the Andes have been nicknamed the "Toilet paper trail” or the "Coca-Cola trail,” referring to the garbage left behind on such trails.

Sewage Generated At Tourist Spots Contaminate The Natural Environment

Rampant construction of tourist facilities like hotels, cafes, restaurants, etc., in an area without proper arrangement for safe disposal of sewage, can lead to disastrous consequences. Wastewater carrying sewage from such areas often pollutes nearby water bodies. It can lead to the eutrophication of water bodies and the loss of the balance in aquatic ecosystems. Pollution of water bodies with sewage can also lead to health issues and even epidemics that can ultimately wipe out large populations of aquatic flora and fauna and also impact human health adversely.

Tourism Can Spoil The Aesthetics Of The Environment

Tourist facilities built to earn a profit without any concern about integrating the design with the natural features of the place can lead to aesthetic pollution. Large resorts of disparate designs can dominate the landscape and spoil the natural beauty of a place.

Tourism And Natural Resources

When tourism is encouraged in an area with inadequate resources, it will have a negative impact on the ecosystem of the area. In such areas, the local flora and fauna might be deprived of the resources needed to sustain their lives. For example, large volumes of water are consumed to cater to the needs of the tourists, run hotels, swimming pools, maintain golf courses, etc. This can degrade the quality of water and decrease the volume of water that is available for the local population, plants, and animals. It is not only the water resources that are depleted. Unsustainable practices by the tourist industry can also put pressure on other resources like food, energy, etc.

Tourism And Physical Degradation Of The Ecosystem

Every ecosystem works on a delicate natural balance. Every species in the ecosystem has a specific role to play in the system. However, tourism often disturbs this delicate balance and creates a great disaster in the ecosystem. When the tourist industry active in an area is completely profit-minded, it pays little heed to the needs of nature. For example, often hotels and resorts are built illegally very close to the beach or inside the core areas of forests. Large patches of natural vegetation need to be cleared to allow space for the sprawling resorts or hotels. As old tourist spots get degraded due to overuse by tourists, newer ‘upcoming’ destinations with fewer crowds become the next favorite of tourists and the tourism industry. The same situation is repeated once more. Unsustainable practices by the tourism industry can thus lead to deforestation, sand erosion, loss of species, changes in sea currents and coastlines, destruction of habitats, etc. Even activities like nature walks can be harmful to the environment if tourists trample on the local vegetation during their walk. Such trampling can lead to reduced plant vigor, breakage of stems, reduced regeneration, etc. Tourists breaking off corals during snorkeling or scuba diving activities can also contribute to ecosystem degradation. Commercial harvesting of corals for sale to tourists also causes harm to coral reefs. Even the anchorage of cruise ships to coral reefs can degrade large sections of the reef.

More in Environment