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Tourism is evidently a multi-million industry that has become not only a significant income source but also a significant employment source for most nations globally. On the other hand, the industry has also serious environmental impacts, especially within the developing nations. In fact, according to UNEP (1998), compared to any other industry, tourism relies largely on the environment for its continued well-being. As such, with many nations currently counting their yearly tourist arrivals or influx in terms of tens or even hundreds of thousands, there is increasing concern for the stakeholders within the industry to do more in terms of protecting the environment in which the industry relies on. In view of this therefore, this particular paper intends to provide a clear analysis as regards the tourism and the environment.

Possible causes of the growth of the tourism industry globally

Recent years has witnessed tourism become more and more popular around the world. As highlighted by Mason (2010), for instance, the international tourist arrivals in various world’s destinations during the year 2008 amounted to approximately 922 million (about 12 percent of the world’s population).One of the major cause of this growth is attributed to people having significantly more disposable incomes presently. This means that the economies have individuals with significantly more money to spend on luxuries such as holidays. According to Gamesby (2014), this is to some extent due to salary increases as well as partly due to prices of essential commodities such as clothing or food falling. Besides this, a large number of families presently have more than one income earners, fewer children and often possess a car. All these factors significantly increase the probability of individuals becoming tourists.

Advances in technology can also explain another possible cause for the growth of the tourism industry globally. The world has in the recent century witnessed the availability of a wider range in terms of the means of travelling for tourists. These particular means of travelling such as airplanes have been able to easily link different tourists’ destinations.Besides, the presence of budget-friendly airlines have lead to increased traffic volumes hence leading to the growth of the tourism industry globally. Another possible cause of the tourism growth can be attributed to the media, which through its extensive coverage in terms of holiday types has significantly increased individuals’ demand for travel. As highlighted by Gamesby (2014), for instance, most newspapers and magazines nowadays advertise various holiday destinations with Television shows showing individuals the enormous choices on offer, a factor that has promoted extreme tourism.

Holiday entitlements also form a possible cause for growth of the global tourism industry. According to Gamesby (2014), holiday entitlements have significantly increased over the last century among a majority of the developed nations. This has implied that individuals can go for many holidays in a year, a factor that has evidently witnessed the swelling number of tourists in many destinations of the world.

The environmental impact of the growth of the tourism industry

Despite the significant growth of the tourism industry witnessed over the recent past, its impacts on the environment has been immense with various negative as well as positive effects seen. A significant negative effect of tourism growth on the environment is its effect on fauna and flaura.According to Batta (2000) tourism growth has generally been associated with the destruction of flora and fauna in order to accommodate tourists’ facilities as well as activities. These are often attributed to the effects of the activities of tourism such as tourism facilities construction , the tourists’ effects and effects due to tourism linkages that significantly impact negatively on the ecological balance of a given area or destination. Often the consequences have been transformation in the degree as well as the nature of vegetation cover through the clearance of vegetation, the destruction of wild animals’ breeding habitats, the killing of wild animals through game hunting as well as the killing of wild animals so as to provide goods for the souvenir business.

The effects of pollution form another significant negative impact of tourism growth on the environment (Singh,2003).As Batta (2000) argues, the tourism industry by itself has often been, and remains, a significant contributor to the pollution of the environment in various parts f the globe. The pollution brought about by this particular industry is normally of four types including noise, water, air and pollution from the disposal of wastes. Tourism growth has also been argued to have a significant negative impact on natural resources. Increased tourism activities as well as consumption may also result in the rapid depletion of both the renewable and the non-renewable natural resources such as forests, wildlife, water and even construction materials. As highlighted by Batta (2000), for instance, increased tourism demand often increases the demand for fuel wood in many destinations. The extent of damage is however significantly witnessed within the developing nations owing to the non-availability of other alternate energy sources.equally,the demand for resources such as construction timber add to the issue of the degradation and deforestation of forests. According to (Singh 2003), tourism-engineered forest deforestation and degradation are often widely reported issues.

Tourism growth has also been associated with their negative impacts on the social as well as the cultural aspects of the environment of the host. Among these negative consequences are decline in terms of tradition, environmental deterioration, social conflicts, rising crime rates, crowding as well as dependency on the industrial nations. According to Leigh (2012), it is often argued that the traditions within a host nation are weakened as a result of the influence that comes with the activities of tourism. As such, there is usually the loss of traditional culture identities that goes as far as destroying intimate, friendly relationships and leading to commercialism, a factor argued to the change of systems founded on moral/social values to a system rooted on money. It is this commercialization of human being relations that leads to rising crime rates.

Other than the negative impacts it has on the environment, tourism growth has positive impacts on the environment. The most significant factor supportive of the tourism industry leaving positive effects comes from the fact that environment actually constitutes a significantly vital part of the tourism product (Batta, 2000). One of the positive impacts of tourism growth has been in terms of its promotion of cross-cultural exchanges or interactions as witnessed through the tourists and host populations getting to learn more as regards their respective cultures. This has been widely argued to achieve international understanding. Tourism growth has also come along with significant economic benefits within the respective destinations visited. The economic benefits often flow in terms of earnings from foreign exchanges, direct/indirect job opportunities created as a result of tourism development and the connected infrastructure, as well as the consequential income-multiplier-effects. According to Batta (2000), tourism activities also result in better resource availability aimed at infrastructure construction as well as the maintenance of parks and heritage facilities arising from the combined effect of these three particular factors.First,because nature parks, historical monuments and cultural heritage are often projected so as to attract various tourists, there is often improved allocations in terms of resources meant for not only their maintenance but also for publicity purposes coming from respective governments.Secondly,since the coming tourists normally pay for their respective visits to the monuments, the received funds definitely add to the available pool.Lastly,because of the combined effect arising from increased expenditure on the development of such tourists infrastructure and promotion and increased tourist influx, the private investments also begins to crowd in.

Finally, a significant positive impact of tourism on the environment can be argued based on the fact that it initiates not only the improvement but the preservation of a given destination’s parks as well as its cultural heritage facilities. In my opinion however, and based on the above analysis, the growth of tourism appears to be having slighter more negative impacts than the positive impacts on the environment, particularly to the developing nations.


The analysis has clearly highlighted the significant impacts that the growth of tourism has on the environment. From the analysis, it is evident that as much as it positively impacts on the environment of a given destination, tourism growth has its negative impacts as well, a factor that definitely highlights the concern stakeholders involved in the he industry to do more in terms of protecting the environment in which the industry relies significantly on.


Batta, R. (2000).Tourism and the Environment: A Quest for Sustainability: with Special Reference to Developing Countries, and Policy Analysis on Himachal Pradesh, Indus Publishing

Gamesby, R.(2014).The Global Growth of Tourism, Retrieved on the 6th May ,2014 from <>

Leigh, J, Webster, C & Ivanov, S. (2012).Future Tourism: Political, Social and Economic Challenges, Routledge

Mason, P. (2010).Tourism Impacts, Planning and Management, Routledge

Singh (2003).Tourism in Destination Communities, CABI

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). (1998). Ecolabels in the Tourism Industry, UNEP/Earthprint

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