The environment is the surrounding atmosphere or condition for existence. The impact of tourism on the environment is both positive and negative. This article considers the major issue of the consequences of tourism for the environment. This is a complex area as, whilst tourism is dependent upon environmental quality to attract and support visitors, it also can have a detrimental effect upon those very environments – and their climate.
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Given below are the most critical ecosystems for tourism:
In order to attract more tourism special emphasis is given on overall beautification of the surroundings, regular planting of trees and landscaping are done to enhance aesthetics. Huge investment is done to improve the facilities in the area like sitting areas, shades, proper sanitation, drinking water etc. More emphasis is given to preserve the monuments, heritage structures to attract more tourists.
The cause of tourism has been influential in encouraging the conservation of areas of natural beauty and their built heritage. National parks, marine reserves, historic monuments, and archaeological sites all benefit economically from tourism. Tourism also encourages good practice in terms of planning and management and drives the motivation for interpretation and visitor education which in turn helps to protect fragile environments and monuments.
Tourism brings a range of benefits for the built environment, as tourism leaves a valuable legacy in terms of architecture, landscapes, and urban detailing. Tourism also provides the economic lifeblood of resorts and increasingly is seen as a means of supporting new ‘mixed’ developments for both tourists and residents.
Tourism can be a motivation for the rehabilitation of built and natural environments – historic warehouses on the dockside in cities as far apart as Oslo and Yokohama have been saved by converting them into retail and food & beverage outlets for a dominantly tourism-driven market.
Given these successes, tourism can then be used as a persuasive argument for the continued protection of a site if it is threatened. Environmental education of visitors as a way of raising awareness of environmental values has become a major activity in many protected areas and sites of historic interest.
Whilst there are many beneficial effects of tourism for the environment, the list of negative consequences is easier to draft and to describe. The scale and significance of environmental impact depend both upon the type of tourism involved and the nature of the resource. New forms of tourism are beginning to introduce new impacts – geo-tourism, for example, is seeing an increase in the collection of minerals and fossils at important geological locations.
Any kind of development requires some interference with nature. Overdevelopment comes at the cost of nature. There may be damage to the natural flora and fauna. Local people are displaced for want of coastal area development. With more people in the area, more natural resources are required which leads to depletion of natural resources. Waste disposal problems crop up and without proper measures to handle this problem, it may worsen the situation. Due to more footfalls, more transport, more noise, improper waste disposal, pollution increases in the area and disturbs the ecological balance of the region.
We can think of climate change as ‘significant changes in long-term average weather patterns, which in turn shifts the climatic characteristic of a region over time to new conditions. It is only in recent decades that the consequences of travel for air quality, and particularly for climate change, have been realized. The additional activity of transportation due to tourism increases carbon emissions with estimates suggesting that tourism accounts for around 5 percent of the world’s total emissions.
Global warming is another consequence, with the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere generated by transportation, air conditioning, and other processes, solar radiation is prevented from escaping from the earth and therefore leads to a warming effect. This has consequences for tourism destinations.
We consider the environment in all its forms and the ecosystems within that environment. There is the need to maintain the integrity of ecosystems as they provide services essential to the survival of humanity, yet we know little about how much stress ecosystems can endure, or how they function. An essential component here is to understand the role of tourism within the ecosystem. We must also recognize that the consequences of tourism for the environment are substantial, but that in fact these consequences are associated with only a small percentage of the world’s population – those that can afford to travel.