Tourism and the environment

Last week we discussed how tourism is the largest industry in the world. The billions of dollars it generates create millions of jobs across the world and help the economy stabilize. Tourism can be dangerous to the environment however, tourists are infamous for trashing the native land which they are visiting. Leaving harmful plastics and metals on the land and beaches which come in contact with the plants and animals. Boats also dump toxics and fuel into oceans and drop their anchor on sensitive organisms underneath the surface.

One great example is that of coral reefs found in the oceans. The Great Barrier Reef is suffering what is known as “coral bleaching” which occurs when water temperatures rise continuously for too long. Bleaching affects the entire ecosystem; it causes coral to reject the algae that live in them and give the wide range of colors it normally has; causing the coral to become transparent and exposing the skeleton underneath. Fish that depend on coral for food and shelter are forced away and starve, the larger predatory fish eventually disappear too; even birds that use these fish for energy are forced into competition and loose population numbers. Of the thousands of square miles of the great barrier reef, it is estimated almost a quarter have died off due to the effects of bleaching to what is referred to as the largest living organism. To recover, the reefs need time and the absence of stressors like human interaction and pollution. Humans need to realize the ocean is a completely different world than our own, different methods of protection and stable water temperature conditions could make the reefs bounce back.

95893853_coral_news-large_transeo_i_u9apj8ruoebjoaht0k9u7hhrjvuo-zlengruma  Sources:…tory/great-barrier-reef


One thought on “Tourism and the environment

  1. You make a good point that tourists aren’t necessarily careful with their trashing of local ecosystems when on vacation. Maybe this is because they are in vacation mentality, or that they just aren’t aware (at home and in general). Maybe if tourists would do research on the places they are going and the ecosystems they are going to, they would care more about the places they are visiting.

    Are you saying that tourism is responsible for coral bleaching? Despite the fact that tourism is largely involved with travel, which is the largest use of fossil fuels along with producing energy, coral bleaching is not happening just because of tourism. Also, even if tourism stopped (for some reason), the bleaching and dying off of corals would still be happening because of the delayed warming effects and acid rain from CO2 in the atmosphere. It is true that recovery is better with leaving the system to fix itself, but tourism wouldn’t be the only thing we would need to stop doing.

    Annelise Wilimitis


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