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Environmental impact

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The environment, natural or man-made, is a vital component of the tourism ‘product’ which is ‘consumed’ by tourists and inevitably changed or modified either to facilitate tourism or adapt to address its needs (Fletcher et al., 2018).

Our environment (natural and built) can be degraded or upgraded and therefore the environmental impacts on quality of life of both human and wildlife is directly affected by tourism. This is what we refer to as the environmental impacts of tourism. However, there is a constant economic pressure to increase the scale of tourism, which needs to be reconciled with environmental concerns.

Destination communities are often helpless against international corporations who lobby politicians to approve allocation of land for new tourism facilities and hotels at the expense of the environment.

The environmental impacts are considered to be the most acute aspect of tourism production and consumption, particularly given that so far its negative outcome exceeds its positive contribution. It is the most challenging aspect to address given the ongoing growth of the tourism industry and the soaring number of tourists ‘consuming’ our fragile environment, especially considering that, currently, the negative effects more often than not exceed the positive.

Your task

Before moving on to look at the negative and positive impacts that tourism has on the environment, use your experience and knowledge to list five possible positive effects and five possible negative effects. Are these effects felt equally in destinations around the world? Why or why not?


Fletcher, J., Fyall, A., Gilbert, D. & Wanhill, S. (2018). Tourism: Principles and practice (6th ed). Pearson. https://locate.coventry.ac.uk/permalink/f/gr8698/COV_ALMA51103766060002011

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This article is from the free online course:

The Impacts of Tourism

Coventry University