Summer may have been and gone although some of us are already planning our next voyage. But do we think about the environmental consequences of our weeks in the sun? And are there ways to lower our impact when we decide to go on our jollies? In this blog we will talk about these effects and how you can become pro at eco tourism.
What are negative effects of tourism?
The geographical concentration of tourists.
Tourists naturally will venture to more desirable locations; normally somewhere hot and beachy or with famous landmarks. However, this has a negative impact on the resources of the town or city being visited. It causes more concentrated pollution from planes, taxis and other modes of transport for the tourists . But it also means there will be more pollution from the vans and lorries that have been used to transport goods to the area for tourists to eat, buy and use while on their holiday.
Waste and contamination.
Going and staying in a massive luxurious hotel or all-inclusive resort is fabulous. But when it comes to their environmental impact it’s less than ideal. All you can eat buffets for breakfast and dinner means huge amounts of food waste twice a day every day. Chlorine filled pools, and industrial chemicals used for cleaning thousands of rooms all add up. They all result in massive amounts of waste and contamination of water and natural resources.
Degradation of natural infrastructures.
Businesses expand where there is demand, it’s just how supply and demand works. In holiday resorts however this can lead to scenic and beautiful parts of natural and architectural infrastructure to be destroyed to make way for new hotel complexes or through the destruction through more people visiting and wearing it down. Countries where there is a shortage of water also struggle greatly where pools and water features are an integral part of the hotel experience.
The seasonality of holidays means that holiday resorts will often become ghost towns when the season is over. This means that businesses will have to close seasonally, and people will have less work for the rest of the year. Making this kind of business bad for people who work in the tourism industry. Countries like Spain, The Maldives, The Bahamas and Malta all rely heavily on tourism for their GDP meaning that during the “off” season many people will have less work. In 2018 12% of Spanish employment was in tourism or tourism related sectors.
Too expensive for residents.
With local space being bought up by rich investors to build resorts and more urbanisation of resort towns will raise prices of normal commodities. On top of the precarity of jobs linked to the seasonality of the sector, the local population can find themselves in a position where they cannot afford to live there anymore.
How to avoid this and become pro at eco tourism.
Go on holiday at non-peak time.
In order to sustain tourism within a town it will be beneficial to visit in an off-peak time of year. With children at an age where they’re at school, this can be difficult. But in many countries, you will get the “summer” sun in winter months so going during Christmas holidays is always good option, rather than during summer. More often than not flights and hotels will be cheaper too due to lower demand.
Avoid large resorts.
As we’ve discussed large resorts prove to be a big problem for sustainability. So, why not spend more time planning your trip and venture somewhere off the beaten track (providing the area is safe for travel). You will encounter a truer to life culture of the country you are visiting. There is more chance of seeing unruined and non-commercialised natural wonders and sights.
Go somewhere closer to home.
If you want to reduce the pollution emitted through holidaying abroad then just go closer to home. Be a tourist in your own country, visit a landmark you’ve never bothered to visit. Go to the seaside. Visit a local festival. Gone will be the days of airports and in will be a train journey to somewhere new in your country.
Eat local food.
How to avoid eating food that has been transported miles and miles just to be on your plate? Eat locally. Traditional food will be made using local ingredients, because that is what will have been eaten before efficient transport links. So, eating traditional local food means you will be eating local produce and helping local businesses.
Help local businesses by buying from them rather than larger chains.
Following on from eating locally, buying locally is also something that should be encouraged. Supporting local business is very important especially in a sector that is so seasonal. In order for these businesses to be sustainable long term they will need the sales during the high season so do your bit and support them.