Land, Water and Air
The importance of a clean and healthy environment in tourism and the effects of tourism on our physical environment should be a consideration to all travelers. Whether we realize it or not, we all damage the Earth when traveling. But what can people do to offset this problem?
Think about when you hike. Probably you've seen many plastic bottles and trash on the trail or in the forest. When this occurs, the environment is damaged. For these items to break down and decompose, it could take up to hundreds of years. In the meantime, an animal may come along and try to eat it, thus injuring or suffocating the animal, thereby killing an innocent victim.
In addition, when hikers hike, mountain climb and camp in national parks, they must bring all waste outside the park to dispose of it. This means bodily waste as well, believe or not. National parks are so strict that hikers bring their own baggies for excrement and then dispose of them in trash bins later. This proves that anything people leave in a protected, natural area can actually destroy it.
With tourism comes new infrastructure including roads, hotels, shopping centers and other buildings geared toward the industry. This wreaks havoc on the environment because the natural habitats of plant and animal life indigenous to these areas are destroyed. Plants are killed and animals must relocate to a new area.
Any tourist attractions close to water will become polluted with everyday waste such as plastic bottles, cans, napkins, plastic wrappers, etc. Tourist facilities also tend to waste water with both staff and guests overusing the water supply. Think of all those hotel guests that rent rooms with Jacuzzi tubs. Other examples of tourism water pollution include lawn fertilizer, septic tank leaks and car oil from roads running off into bodies of water.
Tourists pollute the air with the influx of vehicles on the road, since cars and SUVs give off carbon emissions into the air. Planes leave a massive carbon footprint as well.
There is such a thing as noise pollution as well. In high tourism areas, this can disturb not only people, but noise may drive off certain animals native to the region.
So how can we be better tourists?