With the increased availability of cheap transport, in particular cheap air flights to numerous tourist locations around the globe, the impact of the 'act' of tourism is coming under increased scrutiny with respect to its environmental impact
and cultural impact.
The environmental impact of Tourism
Tourism's environmental impact comes in many forms:
- The travel to and from the final destination. The act of traveling consumes resources, so contributing to green house gas emissions.
- The resources consumed at the destination, once you get there. Again the consumption of resources can result in green house gas emissions and localised pollution.
- The resources consumed building the destination. The hotel or place you stay at has an embedded environmental cost associated with it.
- Wear and tear on local attractions and natural features.
Cultural impact of Tourism
Tourism also has a potential cultural impact; in that it can expose a culture to harmful ideas, beliefs or even 'pests' and diseases which don't exist in the local environment.
For instance quite a few remote societies do not have the Western resistance to common diseases, like Chicken Pox - so could prove potentially fatal to them.
Also tourism has the potential to spread 'pests' between countries. Hence why many countries now have very strict regulations on bringing in animals or natural produce into their countries.
Another potential negative impact of tourism is that it could add little wealth into the local economy; i.e. everything is sourced remotely, up to and including the staff! This also adds to the potential environmental impact caused.
What can be done?
Well, we could all stay at home and not bothering going anywhere; but this is not that exciting and also it misses out on an opportunity as an 'informed consumer' to help steer the tourism business towards environmentally better ways of operating; in effect you are voting with your choice and wallet - a very powerful combination!