Pollution and Waste

Tourism can cause the same forms of pollution as any other industry: air emissions, noise, solid waste and littering, releases of sewage, oil and chemicals, and even architectural/visual pollution.

Picture courtesy of NOAA

Tourism is a major direct contributor to sewage and solid waste pollution (mainly stemming from marinas and land based hotels) in practically every coastal and/or island nation. A tourist produces an average of about 1-kg of wastes each day! Other types of pollution in coastal waters resulting from tourism include sediment run-off, high nutrient loads, synthetic organic chemicals (fertilisers and pesticides), oil, and pathogens. These lead to eutrophication, and deterioration of water quality, which in turn have adverse effects on coastal ecosystems and their living resources, and so impair their value for tourism as well as other uses. This is in particular the case of coral reefs that are at high risk world-wide.

However, tourism has also led to the development of infrastructure to deal with waste and combat pollution (e.g. sewerage systems, solid waste management facilities, and potable water systems) with direct benefits to environmental conditions and public health.