Tourism is one of the fastest developing industries in the world. The industry has resulted to both positive and negative impacts on the environment. Tourism will negatively influence the environment if the intensity of use by the visitors becomes more than the ability of the environment to support it.
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On the other hand, tourism results to positive impacts if every tourist understands the actual idea of environmental preservation and its sustainability. This paper endeavors to discuss how the two relate besides giving a highlight of the impact of tourism on the environment.
Relationship between tourism and the environment
There is a great dependency of tourism on the environment as described by Holden and Fennel’s book The Routledge Handbook of Tourism and Environment. As Supporting the claim made, Holden and Fennel confirm how tourism relies on the naturally existing environments, heritages, and the people that inhabit certain environments (46).
Therefore, everyone should understand the need to conserve the environment for purposes of sustaining tourism. Tourism involves people who visit places for purposes of “sightseeing, vacation taking, visiting relatives and even friends, or even enjoying a good time” (Holden and Fennel 25). These visitors can also take up sports, talk, ride take, sunbathe, touring, and even interact with the environment.
Others visit places for conferences, conventions, and business meetings or even for study tour with some guidance from experts when they are doing scientific studies and researches. These people are the tourists who depend on the environment for their success. The environment includes a variety of facets, for example, economic, cultural, social physical, political, or even the natural environment.
Tourism majorly depends on the physical environment. The dependency relationship involves the society at large especially one that gives confidence to various people in order to take up tourism. This close relationship is also promoted by both positive and negative impacts as confirmed by Faraji in his work that addresses the subject under scrutiny (37-48).
Impacts of the relationship between tourism and environment
On the usage of resources, tourism requires a variety of natural resources for purposes of growth. The main natural resources that are important in tourism are water and land, all of which are part of the environment.
These two natural resources can be easily threatened by the impacts of tourism. When tourism is done without any control, a number of tourism areas that occur naturally in many parts of the world can be destroyed.
When there is too much pressure on the land, the results are negative effects, for example, “increased level of soil erosion, pollution, loss of natural types of habitats, increased waste discharges to the sea, destruction of forests though fires, and increased pressure” (Holden and Fennel 25) especially on the species that are uncontrolled.
This extends the pressure to water resources, which in turn makes the local populations compete for the use of significant resources.
Besides, tourism is a parasite to the environment in the form of pollution. This majorly results from special tourism. Tourism contributes significantly on the global and even local pollution although other industries also contribute a great deal. As a negative impact on the environment, pollution emanating from tourism can be in the form of air, aesthetic, and water.
In tourism, major sources of pollution of water originate from industrial wastes that are released or worse still pumped directly to water bodies like ocean, lakes, or even rivers. A lot of oil spills from vehicles that provide transport to the tourists.
Pollution can also come from the agrochemicals that are used in the maintenance of various sites for tourism attraction and management. These practices include spraying of vegetables that tourists consume or even applying inorganic fertilizers to flowers, trees, and other parts of the flora that are essential for tourism management.
In air pollution, the main sources of environmental pollution in tourism emanate from the means of transport that are adopted by the people, animals, and even the objects that are part of the tourism activity. Most of them use cars that use fossil fuels. During combustion, these fossil fuels release pollutant gases into the air. Tourism also results to noise pollution.
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As the tourists arrive and even travel to various parts of the world, they use a variety of means of transport. The people who live or work in busy international or even national airports experience noise pollution.
There is also noise pollution when tourism management areas are under construction following the various facilities that are used by the tourists, for example, the use of earth moving machines to make gold pitches, use of trucks to deliver building materials, and even the use of heavy machines that facilitate the construction process.
The noise disrupts the peace of the residents of areas with tourist sites or bases of their transport. It also disrupts the environment of the tourists themselves. Today, there is a negative environmental impact of tourism that has taken the form of aesthetic pollution.
This aesthetic form of pollution is mainly in mountainous and coastal areas where tourism is mainly based on raising profits while being ignorant of the aesthetic concerns at the same time. However, tourism can be environmental friendly if it is well planned and executed. The two areas combine to form a whole, which can work together for the better of both.
Positive impacts of tourism on environment
On the other hand, tourism is a booster of any country’s environment, as confirmed by Black in a BBC news article when a good share of money is set to maintain the environment in a bid to attract more tourists (Para. 5). Tourism development exhibits a mutual relationship with the environment because the environmental aspect of tourism contributes a great deal in it success (Holden and Fennel 25).
Therefore, the tourism industry can play a key role in developing the environment. These roles include protecting the environment where the stakeholders in the tourism industry take part in restoring and conserving the varieties of biological and sustainable natural resources.
Such areas are very attractive and vulnerable to destruction. Therefore, there is a need to maintain them in their natural status through the development of national parks and maintenance of the wildlife therein. Stakeholders in the tourism industry and even the tourism activity itself can assist in the development of acceptance and appreciation of the environment by the general public.
It can also be a useful tool for extending the environmental problems awareness by the people especially since it is able to bring them close to the environment. Such steps are important in bringing up a people that are conscious of their environment and its importance to their lives and those of their children. Tourism also contributes revenue to the individual tourism companies, governments, and authorities.
These finances can be used in the maintenance, conservation, and development of key habitats and other parts of the environment (Black Para. 6). The revenue is collected from entrance fees especially in parks for the hospitality services offered to the tourists. Such finances emanating from tourism can be used for management and conservation of the very sensitive parts of the environment.
There can also be a collection of special finances inform of fees that can be charged on tourists and tour operators. Such finances can be used to reduce the impacts of pollution on the environment hence making tourism a sustainable environmental partner.
It is also important for the government to take charge of collecting income taxes, sale taxes, equipment rent fees, and license fees for those who engage in fishing and hunting besides collecting income tax.
In a popular article by North, such finances can be used to manage natural resources that are used by tourists to conserve the general environment (Para. 5). Environment is very useful to tourism. It is considered in every activity that tourists take. Hence, the natural environment that is very delicate ought to be preserved in its natural way.
The other aspect of tourism on the environment that makes the two inseparable is that, for tourism to occur, there should be good quality natural resources, for example air, water, landscape, fresh water, and sea water. Animals and human life, plant life, built resources, and cultural resources that are worthy of conservation have intrinsic worth when it comes to tourism management.
The natural environment is also a source of attraction to very many people especially with the development of many metropolitan cities in the world. Therefore, if the metropolitans ensure that they maintain good environments, it will be a source of attraction to the tourists who will then contribute finances for its development.
What to Do to Maintain a Positive Relationship between Tourism and Environment
Addressing the subject of the need to maintain a positive relationship between tourism and the environment, Ireland points out how governments should embark on ecotourism (27). Ecotourism is not a new phenomenon. It is an African-based method of developing tourism in the 20th century.
Ecotourism requires proper management since it takes into account a certain sector in the tourism industry. Supporting the same claim, Nygard says that caution should be taken because, if it is not well manned, its negative effects can be worse than even those that would result from tourism itself (394).
Ecotourism tourism is based on the nature with the tourists being motivated by appreciation and observation of the natural environment and the cultural ways available in a certain area. Ecotourism is also a solution to this problem since it has educational features that help to interpret besides adding the awareness of the natural and cultural ways of a particular environment.
This step helps in the understanding of various environmental issues that affect tourism. With the knowledge, preservation becomes easier. Ecotourism also takes into account small groups of people who are organized and sometimes more specific, which ensures that the destruction of such an environment is controlled. In addition, ecotourism promotes the protection of the existing natural environments.
It is also an instrument for natural areas conservation. Ecotourism offers a special chance for the local people who are employees in this nature of tourism. Hence, it extends the inclusion of the locals in major decisions in the industry.
In conclusion, there exist a close relationship between tourism and the environment. These two factors are interdependent because they can result to both positive and negative impacts. To get rid of this strained relationship between tourism and the environment, countries of the world have adapted the ecotourism method that will ensure that the there is a positive correlation between environment and tourism.
Black, David. London Derry gets £500 for Environmental Improvements, 2012. Web. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-20128602
Faraji, Abdoreza. “The Relationship between Tourism and Environment.” Iranian Journal of Tourism and Hospitality 1.1(2010): 37-48. Print.
Holden, Andrew, and David Fennel (eds). The Routledge handbook of Tourism and the Environment. London: Routledge, 2012. Print.
Ireland, Faitre. Tourism and the Environment: Environmental Action Plan. London: Routlege, 2010. Print.
North, Andrew. Protecting Afghanistan’s Environment and Tourists’ Future, 2012. Web. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-20038511
Nygard, Mikael. “Opportunit y or Threat: Finnish Hunters attitudes to hunting tourism.” Journal of Sustainable Tourism 19.3(2011): 383-400. Print.