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Tourism can create great pressure on local
resources such as energy, food, land and water that
may already be in short supply.
According to the Third Assessment of Europeís
environment (EEA, 2003), the direct local impacts of
tourism on people and the environment at destinations
are strongly affected by concentration in space and
They result from:
- The intensive use of water and land
by tourism and leisure facilities.
- The delivery and use of energy.
- Changes in the landscape coming
from the construction of infrastructure, buildings
- Air pollution and waste.
- The compaction and sealing of soils
(damage and destruction of vegetation).
- The disturbance of fauna and local
people (for example, by noise).
The growing number of tourists
visiting sensitive natural areas may also jeopardize
nature conservation. Some conflicts may also arise between
tourism development and other sectors such as agriculture
Impacts on biodiversity
Tourism can cause loss of biodiversity in many ways,
e.g. by competing with wildlife for habitat and natural
resources. More specifically, negative impacts on biodiversity
can be caused
by various factors.
In Zakynthos (Greece), which is the most important breeding
site of the Loggerhead Turtles (Caretta caretta), the
coastal nesting grounds along sandy beaches are disturbed,
destroyed by tourism development and tourism behaviour.
Unfortunately, the peak of the tourist season coincides
with the nesting season for the vulnerable Loggerhead
Turtles (EC, 2002).
Link to the Bio Example of Cirali.Link
to the Commander Islands example.
Water, and especially fresh water is one of the most
critical natural resource. The tourism industry generally
overuses water resources for hotels, swimming pools,
golf courses and personal use of water by tourists.
This can result in water shortages and degradation of
water supplies, as well as generate a greater volume
For example, the average water consumption
in Antalya City (Turkey) is 250 litres per person a
day, while the average water consumption in the tourist
areas of Antalya exceeds 600 litres. In Mallorca (Spain),
water consumption in rural areas is 140 litres per person
a day, in urban areas 250 litres, while the average
tourist consumption is 440 litres, or even 880 litres
in case of a luxury establishment (EEA, 2001).
Direct impact on natural resources, both renewable
and non renewable, from the construction of tourist
facilities, roads and airports can be caused by the
use of land for accommodation, other infrastructural
provisions and the use of building materials (sand mining!).
Forests often suffer negative effects of tourism in
the form of deforestation caused by fuel wood collection
and land clearing. This is the case in many valuable
coastal areas in Turkey where the forests were cleared
for the construction of summer houses and hotels during
the last three decades.
Mykonos: a cosmopolitan and a rapidly urbanized island
The island of Mykonos
(Greece) is a well known international tourist resort,
which has experienced rapid tourist development during
the last 30 years. Parallel to the expansion of the tourist
industry (accommodation, bars, etc.) the islandís
population has also increased in size, in contrast to
other Greek islands that have lost population over the
last decades. This growth was followed by the expansion
of the infrastructure (enlargement of the port, improvement
of the road network construction of a surface dam, etc.).
These investments have further boosted the islandís
capacity to accommodate tourists and other visitors. Problems
and some signs of saturation have already appeared: congestion,
lack of parking space, higher crime rate, water and soil
pollution occur especially during the peak summer season.
A large proportion of the islandís extremely limited
land surface has either been absorbed by intensive housing
construction, tourism development and its accompanying
infrastructure or left unused for future speculation thus
causing widespread loss of agricultural land. The two
traditional settlements in the island together with other
newly developed villages on which the tourist industry
was based mainly during the first phase of development
have already been transformed in scale, volume of built-up
areas, character and environmental quality as a result
of uncontrolled and rapid development of tourism. Rapid
urbanization has also altered the socio-economic structure
and local culture. (Coccossis H., Parpairis A., 1996).
Development of the Summer Secondary Houses in Turkey
In the Kusadasi-Davutlar area of Turkey, a coastal strip
of 30 km by 750 m has been totally covered by summer houses
during the period of 1975 to 1985. These houses are owned
by the middle and higher income residents of the larger
cities. They provide a temporary relief from the stress
of big cities, are regarded as good investment, increasing
in value over time and can be used as permanent residence
However, this trend has resulted
in a severe loss of forests, free space and agricultural
land. Growing pressure on the water resources has lead
to a shortage of drinking water in many areas and the
waste problem is growing. Electricity shortage and cuts
have become common in many important tourist areas.
pollution and noise
Transport by air, road and rail is continuously
increasing, along with the rising number of tourists
and their greater mobility. Tourism now accounts for
more than 60% of air travel and is therefore responsible
for an important share of air emissions such as carbon
dioxide (CO2). Transport emissions, emissions from energy
production use are linked to acid rain, global warming
and severe local air pollution.
Noise pollution from airplanes,
cars, motorbikes, buses, as well as recreational vehicles
such as snowmobiles and jet skis, is an ever-growing
problem of tourism, causing annoyance, stress and even
Hotels are large consumers of water. A
tourist staying in a hotel uses on average 1/3 more
water per day than a local inhabitant. Energy consumption
per m2 per year by a one star hotel is 157 kWh (380
kWh in a four star hotel) (EEA, 2003). However, most
of the time the infrastructure is not designed to cope
with peak periods.
Some tourism businesses are starting to implement energy-efficiency
measures, for example hotels in the United Kingdom Ďsavedí
up to 9000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year each, between
1997 and 1999.
Construction of hotels, recreation
and other facilities often leads to increased pressure
on sewage disposal facilities, in particular because
many destinations have several times more inhabitants
in the high season than in the low season. Waste water
treatment facilities are often not built to cope with
the dramatic rise in volume of waste water during the
peak. Waste water has polluted seas and lakes surrounding
tourist attractions, damaging flora and fauna. Sewage
run off causes serious damage to coral reefs because
it stimulates the growth of algae (bloom
algae) and causing hypoxia (means low oxygen). In
aquatic ecosystems, low oxygen means a concentration
of less than 2-3 milligrams of oxygen per litre of water
(mg/l). The direct effects of hypoxia include fish kills,
which not only deplete valuable fish stocks and damage
the ecosystem, but are unpleasant for local residents
and can harm local tourism. Hypoxia is primarily a problem
in the estuaries and coastal waters, although it can
be a problem in freshwater lakes. On the other hand,
bloom algae as such also represent a huge problem. The
ocean gets a red or green colour (depending on the kind
of algae) and it is unpleasant to see the ocean like
this while tourists and local residents are not allowed
to swim. Changes in salinity and siltation can have
wide-ranging impacts on coastal environments. Sewage
pollution can also threaten the health of humans and
"EL BURRERO" beach in Spain, an example
for unsustainable coastal erosion management
The project area
El Burrero is a leisure and recreational area not only
for this urban centre but also for all the inland urban
areas. Furthermore, in summer time, the regular population
of 600 to 1000 residents increases to 5000 to 6000 inhabitants.
Before the project took place, El Burrero was a boulder
beach and only one third of the beach was sandy. The
coastline continues to the south with a series of boulder
beaches, rocky platforms, intertidal pools of high importance
for biodiversity and the fisheries sector.
The project aimed to enlarge the sandy beach and make
the whole site more attractive for visitors. In order
to do so, dikes and a seaside promenade were built and
artificial sand nourishment started at some points along
ca. 500m of coastline.
Facts have proven that the project design was not at
all appropriate for the meteorological, oceanographical
and biological conditions of this site.
- At the northern area, sand accumulated
against the walls that separate the beach from the
- At the southern area with the
promenade, the sand is being dragged by the wind from
the wet area to the back of the beach. Due to this
process, the sand has already exceeded and accumulated
over the promenade wall
- The consequences of this project
over the seabed have also been disastrous. The rocky
seabed in this zone had been colonised by a high diversity
of mollucs, invertebrates and fish. The changed sand
movements due to this project completely buried the
rocky substratum causing a drastic decrease to the
species diversity and abundance and therefore also
damaging the local economy. This negative impact did
not affect only the action area but also the rocky
seabed southwards this site
- Also, the natural sand feeding
from the sea has importantly decreased because of
the construction of the north dyke. This makes it
very possible that torrential rains will cause in
the future serious damage to the promenade and nearby
- The works undertaken by this
project did not improve the beach conditions, they
rather diminished them.
During the last four years the municipal authorities
carried out actions to correct the problems caused by
this project. These measures - sand removal, watering
the sand and putting up windscreens - did not reach
their objective because again they were done without
the necessary knowledge of coastal dynamics.
During the last year the same State Coastal Authority
has been preparing a new project to correct the mistakes
of the first one. Meetings are being held with neighbourhood
associations, ecologists and municipal authorities with
the objective of finding a satisfactory solution for
In some locations, conventional tourism
has been accused of failing to integrate its structures
with the natural features and indigenous architecture
of the destination. Large, dominating resorts can look
out of place in any natural environment and may clash
with the indigenous structural design.
In areas with high concentrations of tourist activities
and appealing natural attractions, waste disposal is
a serious problem. Improper disposal can be a major
despoiler of the natural environment. Solid waste and
littering can degrade the physical appearance of the
water and shoreline.
Development of marinas, breakwaters and shoreline development
can cause changes in a current's sediment supply and
consequently coastal erosion. Extraction of building
materials on coastal land and in near-shore areas can
harm inland forests and Posidonia beds respectively
and lead to erosion.