What is the negative impact of tourism on the environment?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tourism can have many different negative impacts on the environment. The first is due to transportation. Especially if people travel by car to tourist destinations, their vehicles create greenhouse gases and air pollution. Even worse, roads themselves break up wilderness areas, disrupting migration patterns and other aspects of wildlife habitat. People also bring with them invasive species, often to the detriment of native ones.

The infrastructure that supports tourism, such as hotels, shops, restaurants, and parking lots, all takes away space that would otherwise be natural habit for local plant and animal life. Next, many tourist attractions, especially golf courses and ski resorts, use substantial amounts of water, which can disrupt the hydrological systems of relatively arid areas. 

Finally, in fragile environments such as desert and alpine ecosystems, even footprints can break down soil leading to increased erosion.

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