Environmental Impacts of Unplanned Tourism
Text by Bijoyinee Sarma
Photo: Cam Bradford
Tourism is an important aspect of every country that promotes the culture and heritage of the place among the people visiting from various parts of the world. It also creates investments into various components of ecotourism like National Parks etc from which the environment may benefit. The chances of the environment being benefited from ecotourism can be increased through proper planning and responsible consciousness or preservation of the natural environment through strict regulatory measures. In addition, funds of most National parks or Wildlife Sanctuaries come through tourist bookings which only happen while tourism has also brought people closer to nature and made them realise the importance of a healthy environment and a planet for our very existence.
Apart from all the positive aspects of the field of tourism, there are also negative aspects that are equally present and must be taken seriously. The relation between these aspects and with the environment is complex and can even get worse with the things being left unplanned. The unsustainable practices led by tourism can also result in deforestation, habitat loss or put negative impacts on our water bodies & their creatures. In our efforts of providing remarkable facilities to the tourists, we are somehow contributing towards the depletion or increased pressure on natural resources like minerals, soils, fossil fuels, forests & wildlife. Transportation due to tourism or related factors has increased adversely which has led to increased air pollution. The proper planning to accommodate tourists is an urgent need for a better environment; otherwise, it can create an imbalance in the availability of water, food or other essential items/ resources among the local people. Also, improper development of infrastructures or the creation of enormous resorts, hotels must be done or approved through proper planning & process. People or organisations directly involved in tourism must adopt and implement accurate measures to curb the possible negative effects of tourism and its destructive environmental impacts. Due to lack of planning, most of the development projects affect the scenery and nature of the habitats living there, thereby destroying the natural quality that makes those places a tourist attraction in the first place.
For the National Parks or protected areas, the tourist’s visit must be strictly monitored or controlled to keep the habitat safe and for the protection of the surrounding ecosystem and natural resources, the accessibility must be made limited to authorised persons.
Mass tourism can lead to intensive industrialisation and pollution which could result in displacement of the local people can disturb the area extensively and might result in a loss in quality of the place and attraction for visiting. Another problem that can arise from unplanned tourism is littering which needs serious attention. In most other states in India or be it in foreign countries, littering is a serious thing and considered a crime, making their beautiful destinations plastic or litter-free. Plastic and its products are one of the common things that is used worldwide and which contribute highly to spilling litter.
According to a study, it is found that the world is producing more than 400 million tons of plastic and half of it is single-use, only 15 % of which are recycled worldwide and a shocking 8 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the oceans through various ways every year. If this continues like this, by the year 2050, there will be plastic wastes as much as there are fish in the oceans leading to massive pollution and loss of the creatures therein.
The tourism industry is one of the significant contributors to the problem of plastic use or litter in a way, is also an industry to suffer from the same. In tourist places, the most commonly used or found items loitering around are straws, bottles, spoons etc. Plastic wastes loitering in the places are a two-way problem, where tourists are responsible for the generation of wastes, whereas, at the same time, tourists are repulsed by the quality of that very destination’s environment. In order to make people aware of the tourists and make them self conscious to stop littering the destinations, local authorities, private businesses or NGO’s must act together and introduce strict regulators, ambitious objectives and coherent policies or strategies. People including locals or tourists must become or aware others of the value of maintaining and preserving the environment with utmost priority leading to the conservation, protection and caring of endangered or fragile flora and fauna in the ecosystem. Awareness creation, sensitisation, effective ways or options of sustainable living and tourism will certainly help the environment to stay the same, living worthy and beautiful for all.
About the Author:
Bijoyinee Sarma, hails from Assam and currently works in the waste management sector. Through her writings, she mostly highlights the environmental issues focusing on the problems that need urgent solutions. She is very enthusiastic about environmental work and aware people about the same. She is also a member of WINN India (Women in Nature Network).
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org