Oil spills

The main sources of marine oil pollution are (intentional and accidental) releases from ships, natural slicks and pollution from land, with the first source causing the bulk of oil pollution. Oil spills, like the oil tanker Jessica disaster that occurred off the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) in January 2001, can cause severe short-term damage to tourist attractions. In that case, a freight ship loaded with 240,000 gallons of diesel and bunker fuel ran aground on the coast of San Cristóbal and spilled nearly all of its oil consignment into one of the world's most sensitive ecological areas. Unique local marine and land species and the tourism potential of the area were badly affected.

Tourism can be considered as the most important Mediterranean industry, and the majority of the tourism activities are based on coastal resources. However, the Mediterranean Sea is a frequently travelled sea route allowing access to Southern Europe, North Africa, The Middle East and The Black Sea. As a result of this extensive marine traffic the risk of oil pollution is high, both intentional and accidental, with obvious negative effects that oil spills can have on tourism are obvious - with serious economic repercussions. Contamination of coastal amenity areas is typical of many spills leading to public unrest and interference with recreational activities such as bathing, boating, angling and diving. Hotel and restaurant owners and others who gain their livelihood from the tourist trade can also be affected. However, the disturbance to coastal areas and to recreational activities from a single spill is relatively short-lived and any effect on tourism is largely a question of clean up effectiveness, and a question of restoring public confidence once clean up is completed.

 

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