A growing breakdown of data reveals that the travel and tourism business contributes significantly to the socio-economic progress and expansion of tourism-based economies. However, tourism-driven economic success and prosperity come at the expense of degradation and destruction of the environment.

When the degree of tourist demand exceeds the ecosystem’s capacity to adapt to this consumption, harmful ecological repercussions of tourism emerge. Mainstream tourism that is unregulated represents a risk to several natural regions around the globe. It can further put a lot of strain on a specific location that is more exposed.

Tourism accounts for more than 8% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, with 90% of this coming from travel. Additionally, tourism-related carbon emissions are predicted to rise by 25% by 2030 compared to 2016. 

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Water Pollution and eutrophication

Water pollution and eutrophication
Water pollution and eutrophication | Image Credit – Wikimedia Commons

Tourism has a significant impact on water degradation, and meanwhile, cruise liners are a significant contributor. Annually, these vessels, which are a favorite holiday option with many, discharge a large amount of rubbish into the sea. 

They frequently cross into international waters and discharge the waste. They regularly release the raw sewage waste of the multitudes of passengers on board within those unrestricted regions. When wastewaters are discharged into water, one of the most severe issues is eutrophication, defined as a hefty concentration of micronutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in a stretch of water.

This causes a tremendous growth of algae, which covers formerly pristine lakes and waterways with slime coating. Microbes are also introduced to water bodies through pollutants. When we discharge sewage water into our seas, streams, and creeks, it inevitably sneaks into our water supplies.

The exploitation of living components of the environment: Birds and Animals

The exploitation of living components of the environment
The exploitation of living components of the environment | Image Credit – Jo-Anne McArthur

Anywhere we travel to leisurely spend our holiday, we will almost always come across excursions that include a wildlife encounter. It could be an elephant ride in Asia, or if you are visiting Greece, donkey tours are for everyone. 

Snapping photographs with tiger cubs is very common in South Africa. Moreover, there are spectacles, oceanariums, and even market stalls where critters perform acts for tourists to enjoy. Each of these pursuits may appear to be enjoyable at a glimpse. 

Several folks believe that animals like entertaining or offering people rides. However, the fact is these animals suffer horribly. They are frequently removed from nature at a young age. The master abuses them and maintains them in dire circumstances. 

People utilize incredibly severe and very painful tactics to coach animals to perform the tasks. They include behaviors like bashings, making loud sounds to scare creatures, shattering their spirits, holding them tethered, etc. Numerous tourists engage in such pursuits because they genuinely care about animals and wish to learn more about them. But, they have no clue what goes on behind closed doors.

Littering Of Tourist Spots By Irresponsible Tourists

Reckless tourists typically ruin the tourist attractions they explore. Mostly in natural surroundings, improper disposal is a significant issue. Cruise lines in the Caribbean are projected to generate over 70,000 tons of garbage per year

If garbage is dumped irresponsibly in the sea, sea creatures may perish. Even the highest peak on the planet, Mount Everest, is littered with worthless filth. Hikers abandon their oxygen tanks, waste, and camping gear unattended on the highlands and foothills. The “toilet paper trail” or the “coca-cola trail” has been termed to identify some treks routes in the Himalayas, pointing to the scattered waste.


Deforestation | Image Credit – ann miller

Anthropogenic activities frequently impact the appropriate use of land, resulting in negative consequences on ecology. In the context of forest areas, human influence on landscapes and protected areas is particularly clear. 

As a significant source of cash, tourism revenue affects ecosystems and woodlands. Emptying forests ground is particularly required in establishing resort town lodging and amenities. Businesses may also reclaim terrain to acquire wood products to construct tourism destinations. 

Similarly, coastal habitats are frequently evacuated due to a shortage of other alternatives. Restaurants, parking lots, and water parks have been built in regions that used to be inhabited by a diverse range of vegetation and animal species.

Threats to marine habitats

Docks and seawalls can cause variations in tides and shorelines. Additionally, sand mining impacts coral reefs, marshes, and coastal habitats, resulting in habitat fragmentation and degradation. Excavating and quarrying of coral for hotel building supplies has destroyed delicate coral reefs and reduced seafood that feed residents and draw travelers to the Maldives and the Bahamas. 

Overdevelopment and massive paving of coastlines can destroy biodiversity and alter land-sea interactions, for instance, sea turtle nesting spots. Coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to aquatic ecosystems, and the reef-based tourism industry is wreaking havoc on them around the planet.

Coastal expansion, increasing sedimentation in the sea, trampling by visitors and explorers, vessel groundings, sewage contamination, overfishing, and fishing with toxins and dynamite that damage coral habitat is all thought to impact the reef ecosystem.

Air Pollution

Air pollution
Air pollution | Image Credit – Pexels

Visitors travel from their homes to tourist destinations via road, train, airplane, or blend these means of transport. These mobility modes are commonly used more when many tourist arrivals are concerned. We are all conscious that automotive and aircraft fumes are among the most significant pollutants in the atmosphere. When many tourists utilize these means of transportation to get to a specific location, the air gets polluted both regionally and internationally. 

Tourism now represents approximately 60 to 90% of air travel, thanks (or not!) to the fast expansion of international tourism. Trucks and other automobiles maintain their engines operating in several locations to ensure that tourists retreat to the luxury of air-conditioned cars. Such methods harm the air much more.

Noise pollution

Noise pollution   
Noise pollution | Image Credit – Pexels

Sound pollution from aircraft, automobiles, trams, and travel trailers like snowmobiles and jet skis is an ever-increasing concern today. No wonder noise pollution is a common occurrence in tourism attractions. 

Vacation vehicles are making their way into and out of natural regions, huffing and puffing throughout the track. For animals, excessive commotion is a source of discomfort. Vacationers who play loud music in wilderness areas annoy the creatures that live there. Long-term noise pollution from tourist activities frequently changes animal behavioral traits and migratory tendencies.

The strain on Natural Resources

When the volume of visitors touring a region exceeds the amount the territory can support over the period, the existing local assets are overused, putting a significant burden on the ecosystem. Tourists, in most situations, put a burden on already inadequate local resources due to overuse. 

When tourism increases, so does the demand for food, clean water, and electricity at hotels & restaurants, affecting residents’ access to these commodities. When marine vacationers participating in activities such as fishing are not closely supervised, the result is the extinction of specific freshwater ecosystems, resulting in an asymmetry in underwater biological functions.

Venice is sinking!

Venice is shrinking
Venice is shrinking | Image Credit – Nextvoyage

Venice draws up to 30 million tourists each year through its canal system. Most visitors are carried by water throughout their vacation, and gondola rides are an extravagant but popular type of adventure. The city is gradually collapsing, and the substantial portions of pavements are frequently flooded. 

Because canal public transportation is predominantly mechanized, the splash from these watercraft adds to the deterioration of many ancient structures. The Italian government has granted Venice the authority to restrict motorized transportation, impose speed restrictions, high charges on the cruise, and create ‘blue zones’ where only gondolas and row rafts are permitted.

Antarctica Seabirds are lost in the sea!

Antarctica Seabirds are lost in the sea
Antarctica Seabirds are lost in the sea | Image Credit – Flickr

More than 45,000 visitors visit Antarctica each year, and the tourist vessels that visit the region can pose a threat to the continent’s bird species. Birds, particularly prion and petrel varieties, land themselves on vessels sailing in the Southern seas. Because petrels and prions’ legs aren’t intended to crawl, they have difficulty taking off the flight.

To Wrap Up

The tourism sector has tremendous potential in different regions of the globe because it is one of the leading industries compared to other industries that create jobs and large amounts of export earnings while also contributing to a nation’s overall economic growth and social development. 

However, there is still much more to be accomplished. We must give the notion of eco-tourism more attention. Every decision counts, from the resort you select to sleep overnight to the tour operator that organizes your excursions to the restaurant you want to eat and the form of transit you choose. 

Sustainable traveling must become natural and easy for us. Sustainable tourism should be a component of a broader economic strategy, and states must carry it out in an environmentally responsible way. Effective management and adequate planning, aided by rigorous regulation and proper interpretation, are essential for raising environmental consciousness among locals and visitors.

Hence, before you embark on your upcoming journey, make sure you bring some go-green principles with you. To lessen your carbon output as a traveler, save water, properly discard waste, proceed cautiously on the ground and air, and become knowledgeable about the habitats you may want to explore. Avoid animal circus!

Try your best to accommodate sustainable companies and reduce your environmental effect everywhere you go on the planet.

(Last Updated on May 1, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!