Effects of Tourism on the Environment

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Effects of Tourism on the Environment

Tourism is a big part in not just the United States but in every countries economy. It is constantly growing and according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization there are more than 800 million people that travel either internationally or domestically each year (Goodstein C. Traveling Green. Natural History. Jul/Aug 2006; 115:16.). The world of tourism is always evolving the technology of travel has made it easier and more intriguing to travel. It is believed that the number of people traveling will grow by as little as 4% each year over the next twenty years. This means that the number of travelers a year could reach a staggering one billion people a year (Goodstein C. Traveling Green. Natural History. Jul/Aug 2006; 115:16.).

The financial gain that comes of this is great for a country. In Rwanda for example they charge 375 dollars per person to go out and see the silverback gorilla that is indigenous to the area. This works out to be about 1 million dollars a year for the government to help deter the cost of damages that may be directly caused by tourism. Other countries that do this include the Galapagos Islands, which generates in excess of $38 million a year, and also in Belize the government uses a conservation tax of $3.75 for every foreign visitor leaving the country. The tax in Belize generates almost 750,000 dollars a year to help the government with conservation.

With the advantages of financial gain come some drawbacks. The environment is said to take a big hit when dealing with the effects of tourism. There are a lot of things that are said to happen when dealing with the effects, anything from water in lakes being impure due to nutrients that may be added to it while people are swimming in it. The example that was used in the journals were the bodies of water around the Fraser Islands in Australia. It was said that tourists may be bringing nutrients in directly from another area (i.e. sand from another beach with different nutrient on their feet, or water with different nutrients in it). The other one that I find quite entertaining was nutrients that me in a humans urine that have a negative effect on the organisms such as coral, or fungi that are in the lake. (Hadwen L., Bunn S., Arthington, A,. Mosisch T.

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"Effects of Tourism on the Environment." 123HelpMe.com. 27 May 2018
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Within-lake detection of the effects of tourist activities in the littoral zone of oligotrophic dune lakes. Aquatic Ecosystem Health and Management, 2005; 8, 159-173). The study showed that there neither short term or long term effects to the nutrient levels of the lake water from people being in and out of the lake.

In the Mount Everest area of Nepal we see a lot bigger problem that the government feels is directly related to tourism. The government fells that deforestation is becoming a problem in the area as a result of new visitors coming to the area to either climb the mountains or just to be there for the scenery. The problems that soon arose was the forest being cut down for firewood for both the native Sherpas and the tourists. The amount of firewood used by the various groups is quite large. Some days the amount used in the area can reach in excess of 200 tons. The other problem that soon arose with the forest was the Sherpas expanding the sizes of their own homes and building motels to accommodate all the new guests coming to the area. Although most of the buildings are made of stone there is still a good amount of logs being used to construct the buildings. In 1976 the idea of deforestation was a big concern among all of the natives around the area, finally the area was turned into the Sagarmatha National Park and the government made laws and regulations on how much wood could be used by everyone including the native Sherpas.

The Sherpas soon started to going to forests outside of the park and bringing it in to help with firewood and building materials. As soon as the areas exporting the lumber became worried of the same deforestation issue that the National Park was, they soon stopped exporting to the Sherpas. The problem with deforestation was probably not as big of a deal as it was thought to be in the beginning. In 1981 the a man belonging to the first group to climb Mount Everest , Charles Houston, took a return trip to the mountain and compared his pictures from his first assent in 1950 to the way the scenery looked in the present day. It showed two things, it showed that the area had a lot more forest than before but it did show slight degradation in the forest. So to a point the forest work regulations were working for the National Park. (Stevens S. Tourism and deforestation in the Mt Everest region of Nepal. The Geographical Journal, September 2003;169, 260-277).

In the Rainforests of the Queensland World Heritage Area, there was a study done to see what effects tourism had on the local rainforests. The study was done on all aspects of the rainforest from the canopy to the ground. They did the same study like in the lake study previously mentioned; they found a low traffic area, a place with less than 20,000 annual visitors and a high traffic area, more than 20,000 annual visitors. Over the course of the study they found that the canopy of the disturbed area was the same as the control, the only real big difference in the two was compaction in the areas where walking paths had been established. Probably the most severe thing the study showed was soil erosion on slopes where mountain bike trails had be formed and in the direct area around both walk, and bike paths had lower seed germination. (Turton S. Managing Enviromental Impacts of Reaction and Tourism in Rainforests of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area, Geographical Research, June 2005; 43, 140-151).

In today?s society a lot is being done to help the environment out with the effects of tourism. Although in most cases the effects of tourism are not as substantial as first thought there are still many organizations that believe tourism is drastically hurting the worlds ecosystem. A lot of smaller companies are going into ?green? or environmentally friendly certification through a multitude of these organizations. In the islands of Bocas del Toro, a lot is being done by the local motel owners that want to save the place they live in. Their biggest concern is the use of water, they ask their guests to re use towels, they irrigate their lawns in the cooler part of the days, have installed low flush toilets, and low water usage shower heads throughout the motel. (Goodstein C. Traveling Green. Natural History. Jul/Aug 2006; 115:16.).

By installing these parts to help with water usage the Islands of Bocas del Toro are using a concept called the Precautionary Principle. The basis of the precautionary principle is to do preventative actions now to stop future problems. This Principle is more heavily followed in Europe. The reason for this is because Europe is where it was developed and it was put into almost all environmental laws when it was introduced in the 1980?s. The United States uses a general idea with this but it is more with science and health safety issues. Canada is implementing a loose version of this with their commercial fishing companies, but nothing has been implemented with the idea the tourism industry. (Fennel D. and Ebert K. Tourism and the Precautionary Principle. Journal of Sustainable Tourism. June 2006; 12 461-479).

There have been a lot of rules and regulations implemented to help out with the adverse effects that tourism may have on the environment. As the studies in the paper show the effects may not be as bad as once believed, but with the number of tourist growing at the rate it is, there may be a problem in the very near future. A lot of these areas that were looked at were very diverse and that?s what people want to see, the problem with this diversity is the areas that appear to have this diversity have not been visited much and are not used to the problems that arise from tourism. The amount of people that have been in a lot of these areas is growing and has not reached its peek. With these implications the areas may never see any severe damage and will hopefully be enjoyed by tourists in their original state for years to come.


Fennell, D., & Ebert, K. (2004). Tourism and the Precautionary Principle. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 12(6), 461-479. Retrieved Monday, October 09, 2006 from the Academic Search Premier database.

Goodstein, C. (2006). Traveling Green. Natural History, 115(6), 16-19. Retrieved Monday, October 09, 2006 from the Academic Search Premier database.

Hadwen, W., Bunn, S., Arthington, A., & Mosisch, T. (2005). Within-lake detection of the effects of tourist activities in the littoral zone of oligotrophic dune lakes. Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management, 8(2), 159-173. Retrieved Monday, October 09, 2006 from the Academic Search Premier database.

Stevens, S. (2003). Tourism and deforestation in the Mt Everest region of Nepal. Geographical Journal, 169(3), 255-277. Retrieved Monday, October 09, 2006 from the Academic Search Premier database.

Turton, S. (2005). Managing Environmental Impacts of Recreation and Tourism in Rainforests of the Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Area. Geographical Research, 43(2), 140-151. Retrieved Monday, October 09, 2006 from the Academic Search Premier database.

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