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Environmental Degradation Due To Tourism: A literature review

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Tourism
Wordcount: 5413 words Published: 12th Apr 2017

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Antarctica is certainly most exclusive place on earth. People have travelled and visited almost all the parts of Antarctica for more than hundreds of years. The issue here is whether the frequent visits of tourists have put into question the sustainability of tourism in this area. Antarctica is being used by various scientists to carry out research and experiments to determine climate, weather, and oceanic features in the rest of the world. Even though the expenses to visit this place is very high, people don’t mind this factor as it is a lifetime experience for them.

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The author argues that the increase in tourism in Antarctica has led to the increase in the risk to the marine environment, terrestrial ecosystems and also has affected the national research programs. The species like penguins have started migrating to other locations from their usual spots because of the human species. The main access for the tourists to this place is with ships, which are not properly equipped and some of which have led to accidents resulting in oil spills. The oil spillage has put many species in the threat of being extinct.

The problem is that how to make this tourism sustainable with reference to the ecological importance of the area. For this, the author puts forward few solutions, such as there should not be any resorts or hotels constructing on the shores of this area, as it affects the species around. These hotels and resorts dump a lot of wastes into the sea which spoils the water too. The government of Newzealand has made it compulsory for a government official to accompany the tourist’s ships to check whether they follow proper rules and regulations.

As we know, it is difficult to keep an eye on the activities of tourists in these areas, but it is expected that a few more steps like above would make tourism sustainable in Antarctica.

Article 2: Engagement with the private sector for sustainable tourism in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

(Source: Report for Global Ministerial Environment Forum Dubai, 7 -9 February 2006)

The Great Barrier Reefs the world’s largest coral reef system, composed of roughly 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands that stretch for 2,600 kilometres (1,616mi) and cover an area of approximately 344,400 km². The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in northeast Australia. A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. (www.cia.gov.com)

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) looks after the planning and management of the reef. The GBRMPA plays a critical role in strategically engaging the private sector in supporting research that protects and preserves the Reef. The private sector in Australia has an important part to play, adding its resources and voice to the quest to protect and preserve the Great Barrier Reef.

The author explains the purpose of this move was to establish a general framework for both the conservation and the ecologically sustain-able development of the Reef. To do this the Authority brought a wide range of stakeholders into the planning process: tourism, fishing, conservation groups, Aboriginal interests, state and local governments, etc. All participated in discussions of the Reef’s future and how to ensure it via responsible management of the Reef. Through its growing project portfolio, the GBRMPA provides a way in for business and philanthropy to invest in the Reef’s future. Working in partnership with business, government and philanthropy, a strategic, collaborative and coordinated approach to Reef research and increases the pool of funding available to investigate and address the threats to the Great Barrier Reef.

The author explains how private sector jumping in the main interest of the firms to earn from the park and the governments purpose of maintaining the park are both meet. The major hurdle is that there needs to be co-ordination between government, the private sector, local community and other stake holders to find a mutually beneficial outcome. Then the government needs to inform the major effects on the climate of the region. The government is participating in the training of the private sector employees so as to address the basic needs of the Reef including the safety of the marine life.

Author argues that government will have to plan a flexible planning and managing approach so that the private sector can undergo innovations and site-specific outcomes. The trade off that the reef will have from this move will be beneficial for the eco system and the tourists visiting the place as well. The government provides incentives for the private sector to their contribution to the reef. The funds available for the government to maintain the place and also to nurture effective tourism are limited and therefore that is also one of the reasons why the government has moved into privatization. The government and the private sector are both striving forward to maintain the heritage of the site as they know the importance of the Reef very well.

Article 3: Tourism in developing countries, Journal of Vacation Marketing

(Source: Oppermann, M and Chon, KS (1999). Tourism in developing countries, Journal of Vacation Marketing, 5, 3, pp. 301-302)

Tourism is probably the only services sector that provides concrete trading opportunities for all nations, regardless of their level of development. In many developing countries, tourism makes a greater contribution to foreign earnings than such other major exports as textile and clothing or agriculture, without encountering the same magnitude of trade barriers.(www.unctadxi.org) Certain countries also view small-scale niche tourism as having greater potential for increasing local multipliers by enhancing links with agriculture and other sectors. Moreover, small-scale niche tourism tends to reduce spatial inequalities through wider dispersal of enterprises. This should, in theory, stimulate tourist mobility and a more even distribution of tourism expenditure (Brohman, 1996).

Finally, due to its smaller scale, niche tourism is portrayed as a more environmentally and culturally sensitive strategy for rural development. Rapid tourism development and non-local investment tend to marginalise some segments of local communities by exacerbating the inequalities between the poor and those who have more capital. When the poor benefit from tourism, it is usually as street vendors or casual labourers (e.g., porters or ‘low level’ assistants in hotels, lodges, and tour organisations).

Challenges for developing countries:-

  • Lack of education
  • Lack of marketable assets
  • Lack of accommodation/facilities
  • Lack of financial capital

Even though terrorist attacks and global warming are putting some people off from traveling, the global picture is clear; people are traveling more and more every year. Tourism industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Governments of the developing countries involved in the tourism industry have realized the importance of the industry for social and economic development and for job creation. This approach has led to bigger investments in tourism infrastructure in developing countries and so does the sustainability of tourism industry. It is supposed that Asian countries will be the fastest growing tourism players. The emerging middle class and the higher disposable income are the key factors for the sustainability of Tourism Industry in developing countries. Tourism in developing countries not only provides material benefits for the poor, but can also bring cultural pride, a sense of ownership and control, reduced vulnerability through diversification and the development of skills and entrepreneurial capacity. The developing countries will thus be increasingly important and they will not only be a luring destination for foreigners but they will also become an important source market.

Article 4: Environment justice and sustainable Tourism: THE MISSING CULTURE LINK

(Source: Blanca Camargo, Katy Lane, and Tazim Jamal (2007), The George Wright Forum, Volume 24 Number 3)

San Francisco Peaks in Arizona provides a birth place to many creation stories. Due to global warming resort management developed a plan to convert the sewage water into snow. This is one of the examples where cultural justice is embedded into sustainable development. The mountains were now used as a financial gain rather than living place. Seeing this Ninth Circuit court gave the decision of “save the peaks coalition”. The basic aim of sustainability tourism is conservation of environment and socio-economic well being. Thus the study of cultural impacts is important so as to focus on various issues such as interpretation, cultural survival, heritage issue etc. The other important aspects and contribution towards sustainability is the tangible (worship of fire, practices at burial sites etc) and intangible (mystical, identity, collective temporary etc) environment. It is a relationship between human and their biophysical world which help to give importance to cultural justice.

Cultural sustainability can be said for the groups of people try to retain or adapt elements of culture which are distinguishing them from other people. Attention has been directed towards the sustainability of destinations and their sources. It grows to continue at the international levels which give rise to economic of the country. The World commission on Environment and Development (WCED) distinguished between the public and private spaces in order for sustainable development. It not only meets the demands of present tourist but also enhances the protection of natural resources. It also fulfils the economic, social, and aesthetic need which helps the supports system. Equity is another basic important aspect of sustainability. It starts with addressing people the issues of cultural justice and equity in natural areas destinations giving impact, across different social groups within a destination area.

Still, injustices are commonly seen as it affects community labour and natural habitats, which is the major element of society. It is a balance between environment and economic development. The environmental justice movement is mainly concern about environmental risks the low income of people which is the major issue of the society. It helps tourist to identify its destinations and monitoring potential environmental issues.

It can act as a good reminder to people to maintain their environment and creating awareness between people for social gatherings for maintenance of ecosystem. For example, the places which are open for tourist should be used for learning the purpose and to enjoy natural areas. While those residential places should be restricted for tourists for performing their cultural activities taking place. In other words, the major aspect of cultural sustainability is to have proper management and planning facilities which will in decision making if various cultural goods. The cultural justice as described earlier may assist in creating various policies and laws by the government and development programs which will help to create awareness between people. It contributes further to an already complex domain.

One of the major concerns that researchers have is that many times cultural sustainability is not been taken into account of Cultural and Social Issues as separate phenomena but rather they are treated as either of the two. Then cultural sustainability also takes a lot of time to frame itself and also that the indicators are intangible. Therefore the measurement of cultural factors proves to be a major hurdle in cultural sustainability. Thus it is important for the people to understand that Land does not just represent a physical space, but it also represents various physical, symbolic, spiritual, and social identities of human cultures.

Article 5: Sustainable Tourism in Goa

(A pictorial view of tourism)

(Source: Dr Nirmala De Abreu Conference on Tourism in India – Challenges Ahead, 15-17 May 2008, IIMK)

Goa is one of the most visited places in India with a large number of international and domestic tourists each year. Goa is renowned for its beaches, places of worship and world heritage architecture. It also has rich flora and fauna, owing to its location on the Western Ghats range, which is classified as a biodiversity hotspot. The state is although one of the smallest state in India but still holds one of the highest FDI received state in the country. The government of Goa has therefore declared Goa as a tourist hub. The place is also filled with rich heritage Portuguese culture which also includes old buildings, churches and even alcohol which is available very cheaply. The beautiful beaches of Goa are the main tourist attraction of the region and therefore there has been an increased concern over the sustainability of tourism in Goa due to its small size and over crowdedness.

Tourism is generally focused on the coastal areas of Goa, with decreased tourist activity inland. Goa has two main tourist seasons i.e. winter and summer. In the winter time, tourists from abroad (mainly Europe) come to Goa to enjoy the splendid climate. In the summers (which, in Goa, is the rainy season), tourists from across India come to spend the holidays. Thus at any given time tourists are flooding Goa at all time of the year and is therefore appropriately associated as a ‘Goa- a 356 day holiday’. The main types of tourism are Beach tourism, Adventure tourism, Yoga tourism etc.

Goa faces the issue of sustainability of tourism on the basis of ecological and cultural sensitivity. One of the issue raised by the author is that the survival of Olive Ridley turtles which are famous in Goa. As tourism increases the turtles are finding it hard to search for places to hatch eggs as resorts or people have taken their nesting places. Due to a wide number of foreign tourists in the area it has become hard to maintain an balance between the local people and the international tourists. The local community is the major Stake holder in the sustainability of tourism in Goa as they have to play an important role for a successful and smooth running of tourism industry. Many cultural biases in the people have created conflict between the locals and the foreigners. Issues like the locals stare are foreigners on beaches or even charge them very high for any local product which they want to buy. Tourists also face a lot of harassment from local vendors as they force tourists to buy their products. Environmental issues faced by the people are depletion of water due to tourism and also pressure on land as there is limited availability of land in the region and the increasing tourist demand has forced resorts to locate themselves on prime tourist location. There is also an increased number of pollutants that are emitted in the atmosphere due to heavy traffic, plus there is increased concerns over noise pollution as well.

A few recommendations have been suggested so as to provide a sustainable tourist environment in Goa. These include diversifying areas for tourists by not just concentrating on the beaches but also on other heritage landmarks and tourists spots across the state. To deal with the issue of local people guides and locals should be trained to hospitality management and also respect other cultures and accept them with an open mind. Also to curtail the issue of raising prices the government should set standard prices for products so as to reduce conflicts. Protection of foreign women has been a raging issue in Goa as there have been frequent issues of rape and molestation on women, this is also largely due to the availability of drugs in the market. Thus government should take essential steps to curtail drug circulation and also fix some comeback hours for hotel guests.

Thus if appropriate steps are not taken to sustain the ever growing tourist industry in the tiny state it won’t be that far when the same industry that has been a boon for the state turns out to be a night mare.

Article 6: Ecological footprint analysis as a tool to assess tourism


(Source: Gössling, S., Borgström Hansson, C., Hörstmeierc, O, and Saggeld., S (2002). Ecological footprint analysis as a tool to assess tourism sustainability, Ecological Economics, 43, 2-3, pp. 199-211)

Sustainable tourism is the major issue for the countries who believe in environmental integrated tourism. The article depicts how Seychelles an environmentally rich island has been affected by the increased number of tourism on the basis of ecological footprint. Ecological footprint is a measure of the load imposed by a given population on nature. It represents the area of the Earth’s surface necessary to sustain levels of resource consumption and waste discharge by that population. Tourism for Seychelles is the second largest source of gaining foreign exchange. To study how sustainable is tourism in Seychelles ecological footprint was calculated on the basis of a few indicators i.e. arable land, pasture, forest, sea space, built-up land and fossil energy land. Arable land, pastures and forests are measured from the statistics which are obtained from the country whereas the other three indicators are stringent to determine as there are many external factors taken into consideration to determine the other three indicators. Fossil fuel consumption for example is not just determined by the islands alone consumption but also by the fact that the consumption of fuels by the incoming and outgoing flights from the region and that too for the sole purpose of tourism.

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The results of the ecological footprint are quite alarming when the country believes to achieve Environmental Impact Assessment as a key to increasing tourism. On the other hand Seychelles has protected a proportion of its island as restricted area and has thus has shown that tourism development and ecosystem conservation are in balance. Seychelles has a large amount of foreign exchange generated due to tourism and which is utilized for the imports of various commodities which include oil, food supplies, wood etc. Now, considering the amount of land which is unexplored or unutilized it is been argued that this land could be used in order to obtain the above needed resources. Thus the country faces a trade-off between imports and land conservation. The amount of CO2 and other harmful emissions from aircraft has also gained wide speculation on the belief that Seychelles is sustainable to tourism. Energy saving devices and use of renewable energy has just marginally served the purpose but the main purpose of sustaining tourism is limit the transport distances of aircraft, as a short distance in the locality might prove ecologically beneficial. The energy distribution or consumption in the island is also not viable as just a single resort in the vicinity of the island consumes much greater energy than the neighboring town.

Ecological footprint analysis (EFA) although is a good way to asses tourism sustainability but it is quite difficult to obtain the EFA indicators as many times sufficient data is not available. For example the amount of CO2 or other emissions from the aircraft cannot be measured and as per how much harm it does to the island cannot be measured. Environmental degradation similar to El Nino can be claimed to be due to some natural calamity but similar coral degradation surrounding the island cannot be overlooked. Unsustainable management of the biosphere, for example clear-cutting a rainforest for agriculture would seem to increase the ecological efficiency because the yield factor of cropland is higher than that of forestry. So thus if a few limitations are overlooked then EFA indicators are the best way for Seychelles to achieve sustainability in tourism.


(Source: HwanSuk, Choia, and Sirakayab, E. (2006). Sustainability indicators for managing community tourism, Tourism Management, 27, 6, December, pp. 1274-1289)

In this globalised world of capitalism, transportation has played a major role which helps to develop tourism into the world’s largest industries. This tourism has brought a tremendous contribution to the economics of the world. Although it has brought prosperity to the society still it has negative social and cultural impacts and environmental degradation in society. It has damaged all the natural resources and socio-cultural environment of many tourist places. Taking all aspects into considerations World Commission on environment and development (WCED) formed various organisations that will take care of the ecosystem. Basically, it needs tourism planning, management, and development option. This will result in sustainable development to the tradition of neo- classical model. Many individual countries have defined their own national policies and strategy’s for the development of sustainability.

The basic aim of the committee should fulfil the local economic benefits and protect the natural resources. Sustainable tourism has also given rise to the third dimension aspect of literature which includes social, cultural, and ecological dimensions. They also thought of political, and technological. This gave an impact on tourism which led it to the progress for forming a frame work.

William Ogburn was the first one to use the term “social indicators”, which forms a component in sustainable development. The objective indicators act as a central part of monitoring everything. They form the major tool for income, employment, and attract visitors. The efforts were not only seen in micro level but went up to macro level taking all aspects into consideration. It included various methodologies like the survey instrument, data collection/ findings, discussion and conclusion. These four components are the key conditions for sustainable tourism development. These indicators help the local to understand the condition of resources to have a helping hand for the development of the ecosystem. These should be planned and govern by the stakeholders. For maximising the sustainable tourism development residents should have various communication channels which are interlinked with each other to have a better co- ordination between various stakeholders.

For example, the sustainability goal of a small region with a large population would differ from that of large communities with a small population. Thus the indicators should satisfy and precept the role of sustainable tourism development, in order to extend the current situation. Though they have different approaches still they have one role in common that is achieving sustainability. In short, the approach towards sustainable tourism development should always be ecological and should be responsible for all social, political, economical, technological aspects.


(Source: S.K. Nepal (2002), Unasylva 208, Vol. 53)

Tourism is one of the largest industries in the world. Mountainous tourism plays an important aspect in economic development and environmental conservation. Hector Ceballos-Lascurian has termed this word “ecotourism”. It can also be defined as “Travelling which does not disturb the surrounding and maintains the existing culture” (Ceballos-Lascurain,1987). It can also be defined as the last hope preservation and protection of various species and ecosystem (Smeral, 1996). And tourism particularly in Nepal where mountains contribute about 80% of the land mass and 20-30% of total volume of tourism which forms homes of various biological and cultural diversity acts as an incoming source to many people which form the major aspects of the Nepalese Himalayas.

Most of the peaks in the Himalayas are promoted as an adventure spot rather than studying point. However such tourism gave rise to both negative and positive points.

Several exposures to tourism brought disruption of local culture, traditions etc. Thus it is necessary for the mountain tourism to be based on sustainability which includes many aspects such as sound environmental practices, equality and long term benefits. Basically, sustainability encompasses ecological, economical and social components, giving rise to major three components of mountain tourism in the Nepalese Himalayas those are as follows:

Conservation of natural resources

Improvement of quality of life of local population

Enhancement of visitor’s satisfaction.

Nepal mainly compromises of three major regions the Annapurna, Everest and the Lang tang regions, where Annapurna -conservation area and Everest and Lang tang- national parks. Basically, all these areas were more exploded by foreign mountaineering which has made them more popular and famous. Thomas Cook offered the first tour of Nepal for the Western visitors, which led to prosperity and popularity to intermediate level. This popularity brought both positive and negative points within itself, by changing Nepal from an exotic destination to that of a cheap rugged and dirty destination. Due to lack of regulation and improper management the beauty of Himalayas was leading nothing but landscape degradation. Many things like garbage, pollution, extraction of natural resources came with it in such a way that it lead to destructions of things. Trekking traffic puts great pressure on mountain traits which were more seen in higher altitudes and where the vegetation was poor. Accumulation of garbage by the trekkers formed the major issue of mountains. Thus the sustainability of tourism industry in Nepal came under sever scrutiny.

In 1991 Sagarmath pollution control committee (SPCC) was established to solve these problems. It has collected up to 250 tones of garbage per year. Despite all these problems the Nepalese Himalayas has been a boon to the local economy. It has under wined the difference between the poorer and the rich. New habitats were developed by people giving a new way towards society. It increased the awareness of the effects of tourism and therefore started planning various conservation programs. People are trying to manage their resources sustainably by the means of energy conservation. The government undertook programs where locals and visiting tourists took an active initiation.

Without these programs initiated by the government the sustainability of tourism was under threat. Such reforms by the government are not only seen in Nepalese Himalayas but throughout the world. Thus mountain tourism in the Nepalese Himalayas represents the dilemma of conservation and development being debated the context of suitability development. Thus if the mystical, spiritual and wilderness image of the Nepalese Himalayas is to be restored and capitalised on, then there must be concrete efforts towards tourism development that is sustainable in ecological, economic and social terms.

Article 9: Sustainable tourism in Maldives

(source: Journal by Ron Gluckman in Maldives)

The Maldives have got a nickname known as “Paradise”. This place is being well equipped by natural beauties which make the place equal to the word paradise. But even Maldives is facing issues related to sustainable tourism. The Maldives 70 percent of the GDP comes from their tourism in their country which makes the government regulate many policies to make the tourism in a sustainable way. Now it been seen that the government is not successes by 100 percent.

The problems which the Maldives face due to the tourism are global warming and the wastes disposed of by the resorts. A one-meter rise in the sea level can swamp 80 percent of the Maldives. The no of tourists to this spot is being increasing year by year, but the resorts available to accommodate them are very less when compared. And the existing resorts are creating problems with their waste disposal.

Summary of Key Findings:

Sustainable tourism is an industry committed to making a low impact on the environment and local culture while helping to generate income and employment for local people (Coccossis, 1996). The aim of sustainable tourism is to ensure that development is a positive experience for local people; tourism companies; and tourists themselves. Sustainable tourism can be taken in four different interpretations that include economic sustainability of tourism, the ecologically sustainable tourism, sustainable tourism development with both focus of environment as well as long-term feasibility of the industry and finally tourism as a part of a strategy for sustainable development (Farsari, 2000). In all the articles that have been critically analysed above all the issues regarding the sustainability of tourism is mentioned.

Government as a Stakeholder:-

Tourism is one of the many external forces influencing the direction and options for national development. The question of whether tourism can be sustainable that is, whether it can contribute to local sustainable development is rightfully addressed in the context of the involvement of Government bodies. A truly practical discussion on sustainable tourism must take place within the government authorities and the communities that are being influenced by tourist industry development. It must create accountability of the tourism industry to locally-defined development visions. Like for example the government of Goa has now put in strict regulation on building of Resorts on beaches as it results in the degradation of precious species. Training local people or industries is also one of the important duties governments should play in order to achieve sustainable development of tourism and therefore in the barrier reef the Private sector industries will initially be directed by the government as per the working of the Great Barrier Reef and only then will it be handed out to them.

The articles reviewed shows that profits may be increased simply by adopting some general environmental principles, such as recycling waste, planning for long-term sustainability, and seeking local partnerships for the preservation of a reef. If these actions result in cleaner, less crowded, holiday resorts, then they are in effect sustainable tourism without being labelled so. Strict norms and rules should be setup by the government so as to see through efficiency in the tourism industry. Short-term government focus is no good for the countries as that would lead to short term gains and long term losses. In Nepal, the government is not imposing strict regulations on the garbage dumping carried out by the tourists at high altitudes.

Environmental Degradation due to Tourism:-

Like other economic activities, tourism consumes resources. Today, tourism is one of the major economic activities in the world. The environmental effects, widely defined, include cultural and social elements and are probably the biggest problem of tourism. Areas, where overcrowding and overdevelopment occur, are often relatively small and possess fragile environments. At peak season visitors can outnumber the resident population. Environmental impact of tourism is most visible in tourist destinations, but effects are also visible at points of origin and transit (McKercher B, 1993).

For example, the output of aircraft, ferries, buses, cars equipment and promotional material consumes productive and energy resources and generates waste in origin areas while travelling long distances creates pollution in the atmosphere and adversely effects th


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