Impacts of tourism are complex and overarching as they transcend multiple layers of issues with environment, socio-cultural, and socio-economic aspects. The act of traveling itself already brings about a major carbon footprint. The source is none other than your plane rides to and fro. Airplane travel is one of the biggest culprits that increases the level of carbon footprint in the air. With the rise of tourism as airplane prices got more affordable, so does the increase in the pollution levels. And that is merely one aspect of tourism in the environmental aspect. There are tinier, but cumulative impacts brought about by the rise of tourism. Especially unchecked tourism. The rise of plastic waste on the beaches and even in the oceans are horrific. And these are not industrial waste, but rather, individuals.
What can you do as an environmentally responsible traveler? Avoid places that are overly crowded already. You won’t be able to enjoy the best the destination has to offer anyway. Look for ways you can contribute to the preservation of nature and the general environment in your destination. It usually isn’t difficult to find organizations that dedicate themselves to preserving the environment in places where mass tourism has an impact. If you do business travel to the place regularly, consider donating on a long-term basis.
The socio-economic impact of mass tourism
A rather complex impact of mass tourism is one that affect both the social and economic impact of an area and even a country. While the environmental impact is something very tangible and measurable, the social impacts usually take more time to assess. There is something referred to as the commodification of culture. It means that the cultural traditions; ceremonies, dances, and such, as well as the cultural artifacts, are used or ‘sold’ to gain financial profit. While on one hand, this benefits the people “selling” the tradition or the culture, thus, creating jobs, on the other hand, this may create a negative impact. A lot of these communities are, often times, relying solely on tourism. Tourism is the main, if not the only, source of reliable revenue. This is not a sustainable economy.
The imbalance between the local economy and living standards to that of the tourists
This creates numerous problems. Begging is merely one of them, although it is not specifically tied only to tourism. Do NOT give a beggar your money! No matter how pitiful they look to your eyes, just don’t. What you’re doing is merely perpetuating the cycle of begging. You may argue that “they are just children, they’re not supposed to be working yet, they had no choice.”
Exactly because they are children. That means you’re telling them that begging is a valid way to` make money. And that’s really the last thing you’d want to imprint on these children.
There’s also a huge potential of perpetuating the notion that white people are all rich. While that is certainly the furthest thing from the truth, the fact that you can travel to their destination itself already spoke volume. Even if they work for 10 years they may not be able to afford a single trip to your country. Some privileged westerners seemed to have never noticed this.