Andrew J. Wein - Apr 24, 2017
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Tourism brings a lot of joy to peoples’ lives, but it also brings suffering and certain sacrifices – to the natural environment, infrastructure, sites or even communities living close to the world’s most prominent sites. This year was declared the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations. As a result, this year focuses on tourism sustainability and the countries and sites that need to take necessary measures to sustain their tourism development. This time, we introduce the top destinations threatened by mass tourism.

Mount Everest

The world’s highest peak is full of waste left over by the climbers. Climbers with their guides leave behind lots of garbage, even organic. The base camp, 5,300 meters high, is not equipped with sewers but latrines are emptied into drums which are then disposed of. In the other four fields, which are located at different heights from the base to the peak, it is common to dig a hole in the ice to bury the feces. But when the temperatures increase, the ice melts and these excrements resurface, causing an unpleasant odor. While the garbage left over blocks many paths on the mountain.

The Great Wall of China

It stretches for thousands of kilometers. It was built to defend China from enemy armies, but now hordes of tourists are putting its existence in danger. The effects of mass tourism are quite visible. Large sections of the wall have been covered with graffiti. According to the Beijing Times, 30% of the wall has disappeared due to natural erosion and damage caused by humans.

Machu Picchu (Peru)

To facilitate the increasing flow of tourists, Peruvian authorities periodically propose to build a cable car on Machu Picchu. But organizations such as UNESCO and environmentalists oppose this. Mainly because they think that exceeding the current limit of 1 million visitors a year would be unmanageable. Moreover, the locals complain that the influx of tourists only enriches tour operators and luxury hotels, leaving the communities living close to the site empty-handed.

Phi Phi Islands (Thailand)

These islands became famous due to the movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo Di Caprio. As of now, however, Phi Phi beach is overrun by tourists, who do not always respect the environment. Two years ago, the newspaper The Phuket Gazette published an article telling the world that the beach is “crying” of mass tourism. More than 1,000 visitors come to the island every day, while it is unknown how many tourists arrive directly on the beach on motorboats and yachts. Phi Phi produces an average of 25 tons of garbage a day, which rises up to 40 tons during the high season.

The Pyramids of Giza (Egypt)

Every now and then Egyptian authorities arrest tourists who are delighted to climb the pyramids and then put the video of their stunt on social media. Those caught in the act of climbing the pyramids face up to three years in prison. Necessary measures need to be made to protect the monuments. The pyramids cannot stand up to the constant stress of the climbers as well as archaeologists. The large amount of waste around the pyramids is also worrisome, like a few years ago when there were camel excrements on the pyramid site. This prevented people from approaching the pyramids.

Stonehenge (Great Britain)

In 2015, The Heritage Journal denounced the state in which visitors are used to leave the famous circle of Stonehenge. Chewing gum stuck to the ancient monument, graffiti and even attempts to set the site on fire have been registered. The volunteers, who take care of its cleanliness, have been complaining loudly since the last summer solstice about the presence of vomit, feces and leftover waste hidden among the stones of the prehistoric monument.

Venice (Italy)

In February 2017, the President of the Veneto region was urged to limit the number of tourists in Venice. According to Francesco Bandarin, Deputy General Delegate to UNESCO, 30 million people visit Venice annually which has been endangered by mass tourism for years. More than 2/3 of the visitors are day trippers, exempted from paying the tourist tax (because they do not stay overnight). It is a stream of people that is difficult to manage and which leaves a lot of waste behind. Then there is also the problem of the “big ships”. The approximately 600 cruise ships that annually enter the lagoon and moor at the harbor.

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