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Tourism vs. The Environment
Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries. In fact, it is believed that tourism will grow at approximately four percent per year through the year 2010. Tourism is usually good for the economy but is it is not always good for the environment. Mankind does have a way of messing up whatever we touch. Whenever something is taken out of its natural environment and placed elsewhere, there is an effect on something. Hikers generally stay on paths. Every so often a hiker just must have a photograph of a flower in the middle of a field and trounces off to get it. In doing so, rare vegetation might be killed. Destroyed vegetation, air pollution, water pollution and refuge are just a few of the problems irritated by tourism.
Sprawl is - no pun intended - a growing problem. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, sprawl and relative zoning problems are more and more common. Thousands come to Lancaster County each year to shop at the outlets. It surprises many to see seagulls spread across the gigantic parking lot. Seagulls will fly a great distance to get to water. From their height in the sky, parking lots look like bodies of water. Now these seagulls are left to fend for themselves. Many often die. These seagulls are just one example of the effect tourism (the need for parking lots) has on the environment.
The more sprawl, the more cars there are. The more cars, then the more pollution there is. Several counties have adopted a required emission test.
Sometimes the environment has the negative effect on tourism. In farming areas, there is naturally a higher level of nitrates in the soil than in the city. The nitrates come from the manure of which all farms naturally have abundance. This past summer, the Department of Environmental Protection Agency (DEP) closed a tourist hotel and restaurant twice due to high nitrates in the water supply. The Red Caboose Restaurant had levels of 22.8 milligrams per liter. The federal and state mandates are no higher than 10 milligrams per liter. The attractions were closed most of the summer as a result of DEP. In this particular case, DEP had been trying to get the attractions closed for more than one and a half years. In addition to high nitrate levels, the Red Caboose was cited due to failure to its sewage treatment center.
Tourism on the Boracay Island in the Philippines dropped 70% in 1997. This sharp decline came on the heels of an announcement that the crystal swimming waters off the coast were contaminated. The waters showed a high level of coliform, which was the result of inadequate sewage treatment.
Environmental stress is a relatively new buzzword. It addresses the symbiotic relationship between the environment and tourism. Tourism can easily put a strain on the environment, as seen in Philippines. A rural area, the Philippines was now swamped with visitors demanding flush toilets. This led to pollution problems along the White Beach. Cottages were built along the mountainsides. This removal of the vegetation caused major soil erosion.
Many corporations tend to favor tourism over the environment. Nepal has more tourists and especially hikers than ever before. The hikers, in their quest for the natural beauty of Nepal, have started a course of destruction. Each hiker uses more firewood in one day than the average Nepal does in an average week.
Many skiing areas have felled trees and blasted mountains in the hope of making the perfect ski run. In British Columbia, the ski resort companies want to build hydro towers and sling cables.
How can the tourism business and the environment flourish together instead of battling each other? The answer is simple - ecotourism. For this theory of practice to work though, government will have to step forward.
This they did in Costa Rica. In Costa Rica, the land is beautiful. Costa Rica dos not have anything special. There it does have a little bit of something for everyone. The government and park rangers regulate the parks. Costa Rica has 25 national parks. Those parks range from tropical rainforests to alpine. Ecotourism seem to have worked exceptionally well in Cost Rica.
Boracay Island is considered to be the center of a "booming tourism sector." It is learning the hard way that the government needs to step in and get their hands wet every once in a while. Originally they had tried a "hands off" approach to planning but are now finding that was a dangerous planning technique. The Department of Tourism in Boracay did a survey of locals and of tourists to see how each group perceived the changes. The majority of people want to set limits on growth and control the developments in Boracay..
Without a precise zoning guideline, residents and developers can cross usages and designs without regard to the bigger picture. For example, a resort could go in next to a farm. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, for example, a farm was sold and used for an outlet center. The farm had been located at a major intersection so it was a prime commercial site. However, now the traffic there is astronomical. The foot traffic has increased as well. The pollution level has been raised greatly. The number of accidents at that intersection has risen. Farmland has been lost.
Farmland is part of what draws the tourists to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The Amish are another big attraction. Today, the lives of the Amish are kept simple with little or no use of modern day conveniences such as electricity and automobiles. They use horse-drawn buggies as transportation, and are often referred to as the "plain people" because of their lifestyles and their dark, simple dress. The Amish are gifted craftsmen. The men are highly skilled in farming techniques, woodworking and carpentry, while the women are excellent at baking, quilting, sewing and craft making. They pass their skills on to generation after generation. Tourists travel great distances just to steal a glance or buy something "Amish made." They have, in essence, become a commodity themselves.
Due to a lack of planning, trade occupations were also in jeopardy in Boracay. Local fishing began to suffer due to over harvesting of the coral reefs. Boracay has the potential of a great tourist destination given the right economic guidance.
Ecotourism is much like the zoning board within a local municipality. It requires very careful planning of the effect on natural resources. Ecotourism has three general objectives. They are: a generation of local support for conservation, a generation or financial support for protected area management and a generation of local economic benefits. The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines ecotourism as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people."
Looking at Belize, one recognizes that Belize offers a variety of tourism attractions. Mayan ruins, the second largest reef and a variety of parks top the list for tourist attractions. Revenue brought in due to tourism includes donations, souvenir sales as well as admissions. Tourism - like it or not - has become a big business. According to Amusement Business, the Walt Disney Company received 14.8 million visitors in Florida alone. They received another 17.7 million visitors in Tokyo in 2001.
The Ostional village lies in the Ostional Wildlife Refuge, a protected area of Coasta Rica. It was originally established to protect nesting sea turtles. The beach is literally filled with turtle egg debris. Swimming is currently dangerous due to a severe undertow. The hills, which surround the Ostional area, have been deforested and converted basically into cattle grazing.
Convincing governments to offer tax advantages is one way to encourage ecotourism. However, the problem might arise in the argument that benefits are normally not a local thing but…[continue]
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