Tourism is an industry with its economic social, Cultural and environmental aspects. There is no denying to the fact that Tourism has brought in a lot of foreign exchange, helped our country in the balance of payments as a whole but it has also created problems in as much as we spend a lot of money on creating facilities. It has undoubtedly helped us to create jobs for local employees but also cost a lot of money in creating jobs. Equally mixed are the social effects of tourism some times tourism has resulted in the dislocation of local people and damaged their economic interest caused inflation, changed their life style, challenged their cultural and even their other benefits.
Equally mixed are the effects or Environment and that is the issue we need to discuss in growth length.
On the one hand, it has led to protection of physical environment- historic sites, monuments and also Wildlife. On the other hand it has caused irreversible damage to some of these. Many a coastline has been altered. Tourists themselves have choked the narrow streets of historic cities and over crowded the picturesque country side. The fragile eco-system, particularly of the islands as also of the Himalayas has been negatively affected. They have been left behind irreversible damages. With tourists over crowding in the Himalayan Region, there is impact on vegetation also. Collection of flowers on way to religious & social heritage sites in numbers and other human activities even endangered species in and around. There are possibilities of forest fires due to carelessness, chopping of trees for tent poles and firewood. Dumping of garbage attracts a lot weeds. Weeds have always followed Man wherever he has gone and a new element is introduced in these fragile eco-systems. Then traffic due to pedestrians and also vehicles alters the composition of vegetation. Road system that is built create disturbance in the Himalayan systems. Similarly camping's also bringing in its wake certain ill-effects. All these factors do create negative impact in the eco-system.
But this does not mean nothing should be developed. Developments must be in consonance with the terrain and with the eco-system. This is the crux of sustainable tourism. Further that however significant the economic benefits, these can not and shall not be the only criterion and that there must be a reformulation of the approach to Tourism Planning with emphasis on the socio- economic well being, cultural identity of host communities and conservation of the natural scenic sites and the character of historical and religious centers while ensuring the security & well being of visitors both national and international so they are able to have a relaxed enriching holiday experience.
Continuing on environmental aspects, water bodies like Lakes, Rivers, Coastal areas, over touristic activities lead to biological pollution. Dal lake in Srinagar is a case of reference. The amounts of boats on Dal lake, health hazard, Weed growth nearly choking the Lake. It is now a dying Lake. As if this is not enough pressure on the lake with recreational boats, surf riding, petrol driven vehicles the water is continuously polluted. Let us not forget the Kumbh Mela which has great negative impact on water quality when people congregate at one place and bathe.
Jet run noise pollution and air pollution are really our concerns for global warming. Exhaust emissions of vehicles has an indirect effect on air quality. No doubt modern science and technology and experts are deliberating on these issues to solve the problems. But global education to save the environment is the need of the hour man can have his tourism but not at the cost of destroying the eco-system.
Similarly Cruise ships cause enormous environmental damage. It is estimated that they discard many thousand of tons of untreated waste into the oceans of the world every day. Strict regulations need to be applied to this type of destructive tourism.
Now we can also look into wildlife and impact of tourism on this sector wildlife habitat has been affected by hunting by invading their natured habitat, photographing and so on. While the impact on larger mammals and birds is apparent, nothing has so far been reported on the reptile & insect life both of which are equally important. If Tourism is to be handled on a sustainable basis, we must remember that what is important is not the number of animals but the quality of animals and that needs protection all time.