By: Ananya Yadati
Spring break is here, and almost everyone is excited to travel to new places so they can enjoy nicer weather and sightseeing. However, we should stop to think about the negative effects of tourism and spring break travel. For example, tourism causes environmental damage, displaces locals, and leads to water overuse. Although there is a negative side to traveling, there are ways that we can prevent these problems from occurring. If we are more mindful of the problems we can cause by traveling, we can make sure to prevent them from occurring.
Tourism leads to great amounts of environmental damage because it pollutes the land. Popular tourist attractions not only receive many visitors but receive all of their trash too. It is common for tourists to leave their trash outside thinking that one piece of trash won’t do any harm, but the trash from each person adds up to be a very large amount. On top of that, even when not left outside, the trash management systems in that area are often unable to handle all of the waste. That is because tourists often feel like their vacation is a time to relax and not worry about being environmentally friendly, so they use more plastic and contribute significantly to the trash produced in the region. The solution to the environmental pollution of tourist destinations is simple, as long as we remember to not leave trash outside and, instead, properly put it in the trash or recycling. Also, we must continue to be environmentally friendly by bringing reusable bags and containers for shopping and carrying meals instead of thinking that vacations are an excuse to use more plastic.
We often overlook the displacement that occurs in common tourist destinations because large businesses in search of profit push out locals. Hotel and resort companies often begin to make space for their building by removing the local people from their land. These businesses care mainly about profit, so they will do anything to attract more tourists who will give them money, even if it means disregarding the people who already live there. It is very reminiscent of colonization because, on top of pushing out locals, it degrades the culture and community there. It also significantly impacts the economy because, according to Tourism Concern, 80% of money spent by tourists in the Caribbean ends up leaving that region, meaning that the countries and communities have a very small amount of profit, especially since local businesses were pushed out. An effective way to combat this is to focus on spending more time participating in activities and tours that are hosted by locals. This also can make the experience more enjoyable because it encourages cultural immersion.
Lastly, the amount of water used by visitors from other countries causes the local water supply to deplete. Tourism Concern found that in the resort villages of Bali in Indonesia, Kerala in India, and Zanzibar in Tanzania, tourists used 16 times as much water as locals did. Near these tourist attractions, local villagers often struggle with a lack of sanitation and clean water which often results in diseases like cholera. To prevent these issues, it is important to be mindful of how much water we are using. This problem is especially present in the more fancy hotels, where lots of water is used in doing the laundry of each visitor. Putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door will prevent the unnecessary daily washing of towels and bedsheets. Some of the most common tourist attractions are the places facing the worst effects of tourism. The biggest sufferer of over-tourism is Hawaii. Although it is the biggest industry of Hawaii, tourism has unsustainable impacts on their environment, infrastructure, and society. Brown Political Review says that visitors account for 44.7% of total water consumption and 60% of energy use, which causes many problems for residents, such as drought. It is important to be mindful of where to travel and to consider different places to travel where you will have a similar experience to Hawaii. For example, you can experience the same tropical weather and inflict less harm by traveling to the Pacific Island of Palau, where tourists are charged fees that fund the environmental maintenance.