Human Impact On Protected Areas

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Tourism refers to act of travelling to various destinations for recreational, business and leisure purposes. Mass tourism is the act of visiting attractive destinations and unique sites with a number of people at a given time for purposes of sightseeing or recreation (Wahab, 1997). Tourism as a whole has developed due to the increase in wealth, curiosity and outgoing approaches alongside the growth of the transport sector. These advances in transport have enabled people to move from point to point in masses. The twentieth century was characterized by mass consumption and production. The 1930’s and the years that followed demonstrated a rather robust expansion in the transport industry with introduction of air transport. This means of transport was at the disposal of the rich as well as the society. Other factors that promoted mass tourism includes; the initiation and consequent growth of holiday camps which were at favorable rates, and the 1960’s attraction of the sun due to climate of North America and Northern Europe.

Tourism in Australia

Vigorous promotion of Australia as a tourist destination began in the 1960’s and 1970’s by the government and has remained so over the past years. This venture saw an increase in the influx of tourists from 1 million visits per annum to 2 million in the early1980’s.These projections have doubled by year 2000 and stands at a range of 4.6 and 6 million visits. Also, in the 1980’s Australia was characterized by a fast growth of physical structures for tourism. Tourism as a whole is a major foreign exchange earner in Australia. The Bureau of Tourism Research in Australia estimates that tourism contributed over 10% of Australia’s GDP in 1995–96, this as a result led to the generation of  AU$14.1 billion in export earnings only and provided direct employment to a sum of one million people, or rather 12.4% of the working community during the same time frame (Dwyer, et al, 2004). The below information reflects amount obtained as a result of tourism in Australia. The data in the tables was retrieved from the Australian government department of resources, energy and tourism (Australian Government, 2013).

Table 1: The contribution of tourism to Australia’s economy

Direct contributions to the economy 1997-98 2010-11 change from 2009-10
Consumption of tourism goods and services($m) 59,472 95,653 2.10%
Tourism gross value added at basic prices($m) 18,560 31,495 2.20%
plus Net taxes on tourism products($) -218 3,100 5.40%
equals Tourism gross domestic product ($) 18,342 34,595 2.50%
Tourism employment(persons) 415,900 513,700 2.70%
Tourism exports($) 13,408 23,681 4.50%
Tourism imports($) 11,729 30,901 11.00%
Tourism balance of trade($) 1,679 -7,220 39.90%
Tourism share of total gross domestic product (%) 3 3 -0.10%
Tourism share of total employment (%) 5 5 0.00%
Tourism share of total exports 12 8 -1.00%

Source: Australian Government; Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (2013)

Table 2: Statistics on the number of visits to Australia’s protected tourist destinations between 2005 and 2012


Total International Visitors
  Year ending September 2005 Year ending September 2006 Year ending September 2007 Year ending September 2008 Year ending September 2009 Year ending September 2010 Year ending September 2011 Year ending September 2012
Sydney   2,624,158        2,568,083      2,694,636     2,645,854       2,489,733      2,659,296     2,588,404      2,644,245
New South Wales   2,771,720        2,720,983      2,861,646     2,805,966       2,652,342      2,829,577     2,773,333      2,834,141
Victoria   1,329,464        1,428,000      1,481,580     1,489,437       1,503,968      1,581,963     1,730,731      1,787,012
Queensland   2,163,905        2,154,432      2,186,182     2,098,472       2,005,524      2,019,087     1,958,490      1,978,238
South Australia      328,626           349,577         372,422        370,727          353,406         362,236        366,451         326,866
Western Australia      623,758           609,930         659,996        677,825          686,289         694,409        735,859         751,340
Tasmania      129,910           141,736         159,025        154,332          144,174         140,246        147,079         142,993
Totals   9,971,541        9,972,741    10,415,487   10,242,613       9,835,436    10,286,814   10,300,347    10,464,835

Source: Australian Government; Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism (2013)

Mass Tourism

Cons of mass tourism

Firstly, mass tourism is characterized by air and noise pollution. Noise pollution is the extreme noise that is displeasing to the ear and brings about disruption of human and animal life. On the other hand, air pollution refers to contaminating air with harmful gases and disposing gases to the environment that alter the composition of natural gases in the environment. Noise and air pollution are mainly caused by aircrafts flying over Australian air space to tourist destination areas among other destinations. Noise pollution has affected wildlife in the sense that it has increased the risk of death by interrupting the sensitive predator prey balance, communication in navigation and reproduction (Palomino, 2003).

Mass tourism creates intense pressures on the environment. Such pressures are due to fact that many tourists will be available at a specific area in the same time thereby constraining resources available within that given period. The environmental pressures include terrestrial pollution, air and water pollution. Those pressures are heightened by the temporal polarization of mass tourism (Sharma 2004). The tourist concentration has caused these areas to experience intense pollution, waste, and exhaustion of water resources used by the local community. Local infrastructure and natural habitats are also experiencing the pressure. Mass tourism in itself is concentrated in a given space, at a given time, this dual concentration leads to an increase in saturation tourism, which is a big threat to the environment.

Mass tourism has had all types of impact on the natural environment. The most common negative impact is land degradation that occurs as a result of destruction of soils, geology water, vegetation and ecosystems among others. This has mainly been spearheaded by the construction of tourist amenities like the theme parks, hotel complexes, marinas among others. These alongside the concentration of tourists in one place have worsened the situation.

Pros of mass tourism

One major advantage of mass tourism is the foreign exchange income generated. Also, it brings focus to issues affecting the environment which in turn stimulates projects and activities aimed at enhancing and conserving the environment (Stephen 2006).Without realizing the environmental degradation, nothing would have been done to promote conservation.

Mass tourism leads to creation of jobs to the local people. People are employed as drivers, in hotels among other places. There is also creation of amenities such as hotels, airports and leisure centers which may be utilized by people from the local country. This leads to modification of the environment especially man made (Palomino, 2003).

Ecotourism refers to a more responsible and accountable visitation to natural areas that preserves the environment and progresses the livelihood of the people living in its environs (Diamantis 2004).Ecotourism is principled in the sense that it strives to maintain conservation, communities an.............

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