Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the world, yet we rarely discuss the negative parts of it. But what exactly is the problem with tourism? And what can we do about it? First of all, there’s lots and lots of negative sides of tourism, but this article will only bring forth some of it that is mostly related to sustainability. Secondly, although there are many problems with tourism, there’s also lots of good to it. But if we want to maintain the good parts, we also have to be aware of the bad parts and actively do something about it. So if you want to make a change and be a better traveler, you must acknowledge what the problem with tourism is and start making changes. Let’s have a look!
Also known as ‘destructive tourism’, this phenomenon has become increasingly more normal as more and more people can travel. Flight prices has gone down, it’s easier than ever to travel somewhere and more people are even working remotely. This all means that you’ll have more international visitors. Although one might think that it should be more widely distributed as the world is a big place, it’s not always the case. Because if you think about it, there’s a few places in the world that is more well known than others. Take Thailand for example, a great example of mass tourism, or the city of Barcelona. With more people comes more pressure on the places we visit as well, which often leads to systematic destruction of beautiful and cultural places. What can we do about this though? Stop traveling? No, because that will have an effect on the local economy. But what we can do is to try to evenly disperse tourists. If you’re thinking of going on holiday this year, why not go to a place that doesn’t receive as many tourists? Why go to Paris for example, a city that’s already struggling with over tourism? You might think that you’re just one more person in the city and that it shouldn’t matter, but if we all think this way, problems will arise. In 2020, let’s say no to mass tourism and say yes to sustainable tourism instead.
The carbon footprint
The tourism industry is said to account for about 8% of the world’s greenhouse emissions. That’s mainly because of transportation such as flying. If you want to lessen your carbon footprint, skip the flight! Ask yourself, do I really have to fly far away in order to get a nice vacation? Can I perhaps go by train or public transport? There’s so many things we can do to lessen our carbon footprint, but this is one of the most important ones.
Destruction of nature sites
Some of the nature sites are being heavily polluted with garbage which leads to the destruction of ecosystem. Some nature sites are more well known than others and this often leads to over tourism. The effect we have on nature sites is grand and it is our responsibility to maintain them. It’s important to always bring your garbage with you and not pollute the places you go to. Leave it as you found it is a rule of thumb. Also, be respectful when visiting historical sites. If it says do not climb then don’t! Many of the sites don’t have the money or expertise to maintain them, so if there’s signs that guides you on how to behave, please follow them.
The idea with AirBnB was great, often giving locals more job opportunities and tourists a local experience. But as AirBnB became more popular, the demand for holiday homes made it too expensive for local people to stay. Both foreign investors and locals started to invest in more homes to rent out, eventually pushing out locals who couldn’t keep up with the rising prices. If you can, always support the local community. Although there are many good things about staying in an AirBnB, it might not be the most ethical option, at least not anymore. Instead of opting for an AirBnB, why not check out if there are some local B&Bs, lodges, hotels or other accommodation. This way, you can put your money where it’s worth.
Animals are especially at risk
Unfortunately, animals play a big part when it comes to tourism. You’ve most likely heard about elephant riding or other unethical forms of animal tourism, but there’s also other factors that puts animals at risk. The pollution for example or destruction of habitats are all affecting animals. Most of the time, tourists can’t see the if an attraction is bad for animals and therefore might participate in interactions with wildlife. However, there’s a dark side to wildlife tourism, one that usually mistreats animals and has a terrible impact on animal welfare. Before deciding on what tour you’re going on or if you really want to visit the zoo, do research. Ask around and even visit the area or tour operator you’re going with. What might seem ethical can in fact be very unethical. If you don’t want to support this kind of business, you must be very well aware and educated about what to do and what not to do.
Sex tourism poses a threat to gender equality, human emancipation, community health and poverty alleviation. It also fuels the spread of HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections. Furthermore, children can/are also exploited in the sex tourism industry and oftentimes there are no laws protecting them. It’s becoming a growing problem in the developing countries, even though it’s illegal in most places. If you see something suspicious, don’t be afraid to go to the police. Reporting suspected crimes is much better than just turning a blind eye to it.
Although there are many more problems that can be discussed, these are some of the most prominent ones amongst tourism, and probably the most common. We’re all part of the problem but that also means that we can all be part of the solution. We just need to know how to fix the problems and how to change our habits.