The Environmental Impact of Tourism

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The Environmental Impact of Tourism

1. Tourism and the Environment

The term ‘environment’ is a generic concept. It encompasses different contexts including the cultural, social, political and economic.

The most often assumed meaning of environment is that of nature. However, we must also remember that how we use nature carries with political, economic and social implications.

We know that the impacts of human activities upon nature have implications for its biodiversity and the welfare of individual species. These changes in the environment affect the quality of our lives.

For example, ozone depletion, global warming and pollution bring with them a range of health and lifestyle implications such as increased occurrences of respiratory complaints (due to pollution), flooding and perhaps also the recent earthquakes and tsunami (in Japan and New Zealand).

The concerns today also extend to the welfare of non-human fauna and flora. For example, the concerns over animal experimentation and the loss of biodiversity reflect how environmental ethics have become a popular feature of global society from the beginning of the 21st century.

2. The Tourism and Environment Debate in History

The OECD

OECD = Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - A collection of 30 member states that use the organisation as a discussion forum to further their aims for a free market system.

In the late 1970’s the OECD set out a framework for the study of ‘environmental stress created by tourism activities’. The framework highlighted 4 main categories:

1. Permanent environmental restructuring (major constructions such as highways, airports, resorts) 2. Waste product generation (biological and non-biological waste which can damage fish production, create health hazards and detract from the attractiveness of a tourist destination). 3. Direct environmental stress caused by tourist activities (destruction of coral reefs, vegetation etc. by...
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