I like to think that I am not only an Adventurer, but a good Steward to this Earth. I am careful about how much plastic I use, I try to recycle and I think about the things I do and how they impact this world I live in. But sadly, not everybody thinks like this. We ALL need to do a better job at helping to sustain our environment. I have included links to several recent articles that support the fact that we need to do better and how our actions are changing the world. I hope you take a minute to read a few.
I have watched a lot of Anthony Bourdain shows and he would often be conflicted about sharing his experiences to some of the places he visited. The reason was that he knew the impact that people and over tourism can have on certain areas. He wanted to show you how amazing the place was but at the same time he didn’t want you to visit there with 100 of your friends and spoil it. He wanted to preserve their ecosystem and their culture.
Although tourism brings in a LOT of money to areas, it brings a lot of problems with it as well. It can change the whole dynamic of a community or culture. It’s like feeding wild birds in your yard. Before you start doing so, the birds fend for themselves and find their own food. After they are used to you providing them food, they become dependent on you for their food source. If we don’t saturate these places with Tourism and the money it brings, the area survives just fine the way it always has. But if we suddenly change their structure so that they become dependent on Tourism, they can be greatly harmed later if that decreases in any capacity. It is a dilemma.
Whenever there is an influx in the number of Tourists to an area, it can bring harm to the environment. Coastal areas suffer bluff and beach erosion, damage to reefs and therefore a loss of sea life. People flock to these beautiful beaches leaving a swath of destruction behind for the locals to deal with.
According to USA Today, people are stacking rocks in the Highlands of Scotland for their Instagram photos. Moving these rocks from their original locations is causing land erosion to occur. Tourists think when they visit places it’s OK to take just one stone or do some little thing, like stacking stones, that doesn’t seem harmful, but it is. They believe that their singular action wont matter, however, the combination of thousands of people doing the same thing over time does. We need to be respectful tourists. Look but not touch. Enjoy but not destroy.
Cruise Ships coming into Venice were damaging the lagoon and adding to the issues they already had maintaining the water levels and quality. Most of the ships displace around 90,000 tons of water when they move, which stirs up the canal sediment and changes the state of the lagoon. In addition, they are so large they block the beautiful views in the canal itself. Once there they unload thousands of passengers to the most visited areas like St. Mark’s Square. That overcrowding is threatening Venice’s classification as a Unesco World Heritage site. They have had to start limiting the daily number of Tourists who visit the island and who can enter landmark’s like St. Mark’s Basilica.
Venice is one of my very favorite places and I have had the good fortune to visit a few times. I absolutely love wandering through the streets and back alleys as well as taking in all the historic attractions. The area along the Grand Canal and St. Mark’s Square is teeming with Tourists every day. You find yourself threading your way through throngs of other Tourists to get from place to place.
Venice struggles with the pros and cons of this situation. It has both responsibility to protect the Environment as well as promoting the Economy. Every time they think they have a solution to the problem, it only creates 2 new problems. A hard place to be in.
Pros of More Tourists
- Create more jobs
- Bring in more money to the economy
- Invite opportunities for new businesses
Cons of More Tourists
- Environmental Damage
- Overcrowding in Historic areas
- Threat to lose Unesco Classification
Part of the cause for over tourism is that travel is so much more affordable than it used to be. The boom of the cruise industry offering a low cost travel option and the availability of websites selling cheap airfare and hotels have allowed more and more people to afford travel. And cruise ships dump thousands of people off all at one time in an area, often saturating it.
I am certainly not here to discourage people from travel, or cruises. After all I am an Explorer myself. Just be aware of how your travel affects the places you visit. Be responsible. Don’t push the boundaries or change the ecosystem to get the perfect photo. Throw away your trash. Visit local businesses for food, drinks or purchases. Treat the locals and the environment with respect.
I always want there to be a Venice for me to visit over and over again and I have so many other places to explore yet. I have learned to be a better traveler and to try to be a positive example when I do go. After all, I want my kid to have a chance to see the world someday too!
Following our Trafalgar Tour this summer, they sent us a list of gifts to choose from because we had traveled with them multiple times. Mark and I each happily chose the 4 Trees being planted in a ‘Region of Need.’ It made us feel like we had decreased our Carbon Footprint just a little.