Local Communities Will Thrive With Sustainable Tourism
How marine tourism affects local communities
When planning our next holiday, we always make sure that we have the essentials. We might even make a checklist of all the things we need and all the places we’re going to see. But, do any of us really think about how our trip might affect the local community of our holiday destination?
In order to be more conscious travellers, we need to understand the impact marine tourism can have on local residents. Although every destination will be different; with different residents, and different impacts, it’s important to acknowledge how our holiday might affect the local people.
Accompanying many marine activities are the negative impacts that directly affect the locals and their homelands. Pollution and construction are obviously harmful to the marine environment, but local residents suffer as well. Once the tourist season is over residents are left with pollution that ruins their environment and the aesthetic of their area. They are left to treat the issue. Unregulated construction for tourist facilities disrupts their daily lives and the original landscape.
Overcrowding also leads to an increase in pollution, but it also displaces people that live in popular coastal destinations. Fisherman, for instance, have decreased the space that they use to moor their boats and make a living as hundreds of tourist vessels are docked at the harbour.
In contrast to overcrowding, depopulation is also a result of increased tourism. Depopulation is caused by a variety of factors, but in regards to marine tourism, it can occur due to rising housing costs or lack of employment opportunities.
A combination of overcrowding and disruptive tourist behaviour also impacts residents. News stories reveal the fear destinations have of being overrun by drunken tourists who have little regard for the own disruptive behaviour. As travelers, we can mitigate these issues by realising that we are only visitors to these coastal destinations. We are sharing a space that is already inhabited and should act accordingly.
Not all tourist activity is negative!
Although pollution and overcrowding are common negative impacts on local marine environments and populations, tourism can bring about positive change for local residents.
Marine tourism is usually accompanied by other related economic activities including marinas, boat charters, boat repair, retail shops, hotels, restaurants, and transport. An increase in economic activity leads to job creation for local residents, especially during the high seasons. New opportunities can discourage depopulation by providing additional sources of income.
As stated, construction in local areas may be detrimental if not properly regulated, but new facilities can increase the general living conditions of an area. Additional culture and entertainment options are also beneficial results that can be enjoyed by local populations as well.
In some instances, tourism helps preserve local customs. Residents can make a living sharing particular products or activities with tourists. Whether it’s making jewellery, wine, or owning a nautical business, tourist activity can encourage local residents to maintain and share their culture.
Marine tourism affects local populations in both positive and negative ways. This article reveals only some of the impacts that marine tourism can have. It is important to understand that every destination will be affected differently. Hopefully, by understanding our impact we can help mitigate some of negative aspects and encourage the positive ones.
Become a More Conscious Traveller! It’s Easy!
It’s not difficult to be a more conscious traveller. In fact, keeping the local community in mind might even enhance your traveling experience by helping you find creative ways to make a positive impact rather than a negative one.
Research. Look into the local customs of your destination or find markets to support local vendors. A quick google search can go a long way.
Clean Up. For marine destinations in particular, see if you can volunteer to help clean up a local beach and mitigate the impact of pollution on coastal areas. This is a great way to clean up the environment and meet like minded people who also want to make a positive impact while travelling.
Reduce your waste. Use water bottles. Avoid straws. Bring your own bags to shop. Recycle.
Talk to Locals. Who else would know better about the local environment and impact of tourism than the local residents themselves.
Remember, every travel destination is different. So if it’s not possible to follow these tips then just remember to act like you would at home. Be respectful and be mindful. Your holiday destination is someone’s home, so treat it as you would your own.