Tourism negatively tackles society

International travel reached a record 1.4 billion tourist arrivals in 2019, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. By the year 2030, tourist arrivals are expected to reach up to1.8 billion. These rising numbers call for such growth to be managed responsibly to seize best the opportunities tourism can generate for communities worldwide.

Tourism negatively impacts our already dying environment affected by climate change. Overconsumption of natural resources due to tourism is a common problem in areas where there are already limited resources. Tourism significantly impacts local land use and can result in soil erosion, a rise in pollution, increased pressure on threatened and endangered species and the loss of natural habitats and ecosystems. In fact, tourism contributes to more than 5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with transportation accounting for 90 percent of this.

While tourism can aid in the preservation of cultures, it mainly dilutes them through commercialization and cookie-cutter ideas. In its advertising, for instance, Airbnb, a common American vacation rental agency, has criticized the uniformity of hotels and offered genuine people’s homes in actual areas as an alternative place to stay. Staying at a hotel with a staging of an indoor Hawaiian luau featuring acrobatic fire dancers or the gondolas that go inside artificial lakes inside the Venetian in Las Vegas, fail to provide the social and cultural benefits that a truly genuine vacation experience provides.

In Hawai’i, one of America’s most popular travel destinations, culture is being diminished from mainlanders. With the rise of military facilities, luxury apartments and lavish resorts, the rich culture of Native Hawaiians are slowly being diminished. Popular tourist destinations such as Makua Beach in the island of Oahu are extremely overpopulated with resort guests who leave behind excess waste and disregard culture and the fragile environment. Aside from tourist culture, non-Hawaiians are responsible for the state’s high cost of living, as they run lavish resorts and other businesses. Meanwhile, Native Hawaiians are disproportionately employed by the tourism industry in low-paying service jobs.

Even though tourism is a great way to expand a country’s economy, there is no doubt that it can cause harm. Luckily, there are some ways to stay mindful while traveling. If you are staying at a hotel, Airbnb, or another form of lodging, hanging the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door saves the staff from changing the bedsheets and towels each day. In addition, hiring local tour guides, eating at local establishments, and spending money on people who live in the community you visit help preserve local culture.

It’s important to remember that as tourists, we get to experience the best a destination has to offer without dealing with the harsh realities of everyday life for those who call Hawai’i home.
So before jumping on the next plane for your next getaway, take some time to reflect on the role you would play on your travel destination. As our world advances, tourism continues to evolve based on people’s needs. One of the most important things we can do as visitors is respect the wishes of the locals who want to preserve their previous community, culture and environment.