This GCSE Geography quiz challenges you about sustainable tourism. For most of human history, tourism did not exist. With the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, increased wealth and better communications meant that some people were able to visit places far from their homes. Overseas travel was only undertaken by rich individuals and families or explorers whilst the working classes and middle classes often visited seaside resorts for their holidays. After the 1939 - 45 war, air travel started to become faster and more affordable, to the point at which nowadays, travelling by plane to take holidays abroad is commonplace.
Globalisation and the ever-increasing population of the Earth has meant that humans have come to realise that resources are precious and that we need to consider sustainable development (sustainability).
One of the aspects of sustainability is to minimise human impact on the environment. Any form of travel, whether it is on land, sea or in the air, causes pollution problems and is therefore in conflict with sustainability.
Mass tourism is rarely sustainable because tourists require large amounts of food and water which uses up local supplies and extra waste has to be dealt with. Resorts and tourist destinations consume a lot more energy because of the tourists. Since most of the energy we generate comes from the burning of fossil fuels, this will affect the environment, increasing the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere. Tourist resorts and destinations damage the local environment as building of hotels, holiday complexes and other visitor facilities takes place on greenfield land. This disturbs local wildlife and plants. The visitors themselves can accidentally or deliberately harm wildlife and plants in the vicinity. If the damage to the local environment becomes really bad, people will no longer visit and the local economy will collapse as jobs are lost. It is therefore in the interests of anyone in the tourism industry to practice sustainable tourism.
Sustainable tourism addresses these issues through stewardship and conservation - governments, local authorities and individuals seek to reduce the impact of tourism on the environment. This can take many forms such as fitting photovoltaic panels to the roof of a holiday cottage, passing a law limiting visitor numbers to an attraction or a group of volunteers installing footpaths to prevent people from trampling on rare plants.
Ecotourism is theoretically the lowest impact form of sustainable tourism. Visitor numbers are strictly limited (often by law), for example walking the Inca Trail in Peru or visiting the Galapagos islands, which minimises the damage and disturbance to these wild and sensitive places. Since visitor numbers are low, prices need to be high in order to compensate and benefit the local economy.