Leisure and Tourism
Tourism – the World’s biggest Industry:
Since the Second World War, the growth of international tourism has been phenomenal:
- Annual tourist arrivals worldwide have increased from 25 million to 450 million (1990) Source
- Between 1969-79, the World Bank has encouraged developing countries to invest in tourism as a strategy for attracting foreign investors.
- Tourism is often described as the ‘world’s biggest industry’ by its contribution to GDP (gross domestic product). The WTO (World Tourism Organization) website gives detailed facts and figures -
- The size of the tourist industry and its present rate of growth present both opportunities and threats to biodiversity.
- Modern air travel has been a major contributor to the success of Global tourism. An expected increase of 594 million in 1996 to over 1.6 billion by 2020.
Global impacts of tourism on the environment:
The UNEP website has assessed this in detail and the main impacts are:
- Loss of biodiversity when land and resources are strained by excessive use: the carrying capacity for an environment (e.g. for water resources), are exceeded.
- Introduction of exotic species. Tourists can unwittingly bring in insects, wild and cultivated plants and diseases which seriously disrupt local environments.
- Depletion of the Ozone Layer. CFC’s from air conditioners and fridges and emissions from jet aircraft can damage this important UV (ultraviolet) sunlight filter layer. An increase in UV radiation has caused the global decline of many species, especially amphibians.
- Climate change. Global tourism is heavily involved as it requires moving large numbers of people between home and their destinations and air traffic could account for 2.5% of carbon dioxide emissions.
Each of these can result in some direct effects on tourism such as:
- Less snowfall at ski resorts.
- Loss of key ecosystems that tourist like to visit e.g. coral reef.
- Erosion to sensitive habitats e.g. path erosion in Dartmoor national Park (link here)
- Rise in sea levels destroying important island destinations e.g the Maldives.
- Increase in occurrence of extreme weather such as hurricanes and typhoons.
- Extreme dryness leading to forest fires e.g Spanish Forestry Service ICONA report.