Tourism and the Environment
Tourism and Environment and the knowledge of environmental issues and sustainability with an in-depth understanding of tourism in all its forms.
Tourism is a global industry of great economic importance, driven by our human desire to experience new environments, be it the natural environment of a tropical beach or the built environment of an old city. But uncontrolled development and business operations can lead to some major negative consequences like pollution, loss of biodiversity, economic inequality, and unsuitable cultural change. Recognizing and attempting to reconcile these often competing social, economic, and environmental imperatives that accompany tourism is a central focus of our program.
The need to preserve the world’s inherent assets for future generation is becoming an essential goal not only for travel and tourism but also for all other industries that used the earth’s natural resources.
However, tourism, as one of the world’s fastest growing industries, has a multitude of impacts, both positive and negative, on the environment. Negative impacts will arise when the level of visitor use is superior to the environment’s ability to cope with this use. Positive impact will arise when every tourist understands the real and main concept of environment and sustainable tourism by heart, not just by word.
Environment and Tourism Impacts
When we think of tourism, we think primarily of people who arevisiting a particular place for sightseeing, visiting friends and relatives, taking a vacation, and having a good time. They may spend their leisure time engaging in various sports, sunbathing, talking, singing, taking rides, touring, reading, or simply enjoying the environment. If we consider the subject further, we may include in our definition of tourism people who are participating in a convention, a business, conference, or some other kind of business or professional activity, as well as those who are taking a study tour under an expert guide or doing some kind of scientific research or study.
Then, environment is often used in its widest concept to and includes different aspects such as cultural, economic, political, social, and physical or natural type. This paper has a pure consideration on the last type. Physical environment is often referred as the key element of tourism (Theobald,1998p20).
The relationship between these two, however, might be complex; but it is very sensitive and close. Nevertheless, this relation includes some influences in every society that encourage people to become tourists, as well as the interaction that exists between tourism and environment
that might be negative or positive.
Negative Environmental Impacts of Tourism
Negative physical environmental impacts, resulting from tourism development, have occurred when the level of visitor use is greater than the environment’s ability to cope with this use within acceptable limits of change. It can be categorized into different parts. Here, it is referred to two significant one of them; Resource usage and pollution (Cooper, 2005p198).
Resource usage: It is clear that tourism development needs natural resources in order to facilitate its expansion. Therefore, water and land are two key natural resources that can be threaten by tourism. Uncontrolled conventional tourism poses potential threats to many natural areas around the world. It can put enormous pressure on an area and lead to impacts such as soil erosion, increased pollution, discharges into the sea, natural habitat loss, increased pressure on endangered species and heightened vulnerability to forest fires. It often puts a strain on water resources, and it can force local populations to compete for the use of critical resources(Holden,2000).
Pollution: It is one of the special tourism negative impacts on environment; although it is necessary to point out that tourism is a contributing factor to local and global pollution, along with other industries. It can be classified into water, air, and aesthetic pollution. The major sources of water pollution come from oil spills, industrial waste pumped into sea, and from chemicals used in agriculture.
the noticeable sources of air pollution regarding tourism is associated with transport, both air and car through the burning of fossil fuels. Noise pollution is also an understandable problem for those residents who live around busy international or domestic airports; however,noise pollution from construction of tourism facilities can bother both residents and tourists. A considerable aesthetic pollution is prevalent in coastal and mountainous areas; since tourism development is oftenbased on increasing profits whilst ignoring aesthetic concerns (Holden, 2000). In all above situations, tourism is environment’s enemy but they can be two close friends, if they planned correctly and also with cooperation of all other organizations or industries which are related to tourism directly and indirectly. In order to understand that whether they can be friends or no; at first it is necessary to know how they can help each other, which are enlightened in further sections
Positive Impacts of Tourism on The Environment
Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, having eye-catching growth over the past three decades. During these decades, tourism has been converted into a complex phenomenon, with economic, social, cultural, and natural or environmental dimensions. Environmental dimension contains the major attractions among different tourists in the recent years.
Tourism industry can help environment through several ways. Some of them are referred to as following:
–Tourism can significantly contribute to environmental protection,conservation and restoration of biological diversity and sustainableuse of natural resources. Because of their attractions, pristine sites and natural areas are identified as valuable and the need to keep the attraction alive can lead to creation of wild life or national parks. -Tourism has the potential to increase public appreciation of the environment and to spread awareness of environmental problems when it brings people into closer contact with nature and the environment. This confrontation may heighten awareness of value of nature and lead to environmentally conscious behaviour and activities to preserve the environment. -Direct financial contribution, can be considered as a way of tourism to help conservation of sensitive areas and habitat. Revenue from park-entrance fees and similar sources can be allocated specifically to pay for the protection and management of environmentally sensitive areas. Especial fees for park operation or conservation activities can be collected from tourists or tour operators
–Government can collect money in different indirect ways such asincome taxes, user fees, taxes on sales or rent of equipments, and license fees for activities like hunting and fishing. Such funds can be used for overall conservation programs and managing naturalresources. -Regulatory measures can also be helpful for offsetting of tourism negative impacts on the environment. For instance, controlling the numbers of tourist activities and movements of visitors within protected areas can limit harmful impacts on ecosystems and help to maintain the integrity and vitality of the natural site( Cooper,2005,pp197- 198)&( WTO,1999,pp3-19).
Environment is usually referred to as a key component of tourism Basically it is involved in all aspects of tourism. However, natural environment is very delicate and needs to be taken care of; but in fact, it helps tourism through its natural features at first(Ryan, 2003).
For all practical decisions in tourism, environment means the quality of the natural resources such as landscape, air, sea water, fresh water,plants life, animal and human life; and the quality of built and cultural resources judged to have intrinsic value and worthy of conservation (Middleton,1998).
Nowadays, regarding these complex and developed societies particularly in great metropolitans, natural environment attracts many people toward it and bring many different benefits for this industry. Generally, it can contribute to tourism development through short term and long-term programs. In the first program, financial profit is especially considerable but it doesn’t last forever and also natural resources might be damaged in a way that can not be compensated and repairable. In the second one, may be the economic benefit is not very noticeable but usually continual for future generation use.
On the other hand, tourism and environment will be close friends for each other, if they planned in a sustainable process. One of the most significant examples of sustainability regarding these two phenomenons is ecotourism which will be discussed in next section.
Key Solutions for Environment-Tourism Problems There are some practical solutions as follow:
–The sustainable use of natural, social and cultural resources is crucial. Therefore, tourism should be planned and managed within environmental limits and with due regard to the long-term appropriate use of natural and human resources.
–Tourism planning, development and operation should be integratedinto national and local sustainable development strategies. In particular, consideration should be given to different types of tourism development and the ways in which they link with existing land and resource uses and socio-cultural factors.
–Tourism should support a wide range of local economic activities, taking environmental costs and benefits to account, but it should not be permitted to become an activity which dominates the economic base of an area.
–Local communities should be encouraged and expected to participatein the planning, development and control of tourism with the support of government and the industry. Particular attention should be paid to involve indigenous people, women and minority groups to ensure the
equitable distribution of the benefits of tourism.
–All organization and individuals should respect the environment, the culture, the economy, the way of life, and the political structures of the destination area. -All stakeholders within tourism should be educated about the need to develop more sustainable forms of tourism. This includes staff -Local communities should be encouraged and expected to participate in the planning, development and control of tourism with the support of government and the industry. Particular attention should be paid toinvolve indigenous people, women and minority groups to ensure the equitable distribution of the benefits of tourism.
–All organization and individuals should respect the environment, the culture, the economy, the way of life, and the political structures of the destination area. -All stakeholders within tourism should be educated about the need to develop more sustainable forms of tourism. This includes staff training and raising awareness, through education and marketing tourism responsibility, of sustainability issues among host communities and tourists themselves.
-Research should be undertaken throughout all stages of tourism development and operation to monitor impacts, to solve problems and to allow local people and others to respond to changes and to take advantage of opportunities.
–All agencies, organization, businesses, and individuals should cooperate and work together to avoid potential conflict and to optimize the benefits to all involved in the development and management of tourism(Pender,2005).
On one hand, tourism itself has become an increasingly complex phenomenon, with political, economic, social, cultural, educational, bio-physical, ecological and aesthetic dimensions. On the other hand, natural environments, cultural heritages, and their diversities are major tourism attractions. The achievement of proper and desirable correlation between tourism and environment or between the potentially conflicting expectations and aspirations of visitors and host or local communities, create many challenges and opportunities. Although the challenges might be different, in detail, from a country, region, and place to another country, region, and place; but in general, when all challenges are gathered, it will convert to a global problem.
So excessive or poorly managed tourism and tourism related development can threaten physical nature, its integrity and significant characteristics. The ecological setting, culture and lifestyle of host communities may also be degraded, along with the visitor’s experience of the place.
Tourism should bring benefits to host communities and provide animportant means and motivation for them to care for and maintain their heritage and cultural practices. The involvement and cooperation of local and/or indigenous community representatives, conservationists, tourism operators, property owners, policy makers, those preparing national development plans and site managers in every place, region, and country is necessary to achieve a sustainable
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- Green Travel in The Florida Keys a perfect Eco Tourism destination (waltonchristy012.wordpress.com)
- Responsible tourism at the Sukau Rainforest Lodge (ilanaontheroad.wordpress.com)
- Sustainable Tourism In Latin America (thefrogblog.org.uk)
- Will Tourism Bring Harm to the Environment? (ownedcore.com)
- Tourism in Amsterdam [Infographic] (travellerallworldt.wordpress.com)
- Why Tourism? (madrastourist.wordpress.com)