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Sustainable Tourism

This GCSE Geography quiz challenges you about sustainable tourism. For most of human history, tourism did not exist. With the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, increased wealth and better communications meant that some people were able to visit places far from their homes. Overseas travel was only undertaken by rich individuals and families or explorers whilst the working classes and middle classes often visited seaside resorts for their holidays. After the 1939 - 45 war, air travel started to become faster and more affordable, to the point at which nowadays, travelling by plane to take holidays abroad is commonplace.

Globalisation and the ever-increasing population of the Earth has meant that humans have come to realise that resources are precious and that we need to consider sustainable development (sustainability).

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One of the aspects of sustainability is to minimise human impact on the environment. Any form of travel, whether it is on land, sea or in the air, causes pollution problems and is therefore in conflict with sustainability.

Mass tourism is rarely sustainable because tourists require large amounts of food and water which uses up local supplies and extra waste has to be dealt with. Resorts and tourist destinations consume a lot more energy because of the tourists. Since most of the energy we generate comes from the burning of fossil fuels, this will affect the environment, increasing the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere. Tourist resorts and destinations damage the local environment as building of hotels, holiday complexes and other visitor facilities takes place on greenfield land. This disturbs local wildlife and plants. The visitors themselves can accidentally or deliberately harm wildlife and plants in the vicinity. If the damage to the local environment becomes really bad, people will no longer visit and the local economy will collapse as jobs are lost. It is therefore in the interests of anyone in the tourism industry to practice sustainable tourism.

Sustainable tourism addresses these issues through stewardship and conservation - governments, local authorities and individuals seek to reduce the impact of tourism on the environment. This can take many forms such as fitting photovoltaic panels to the roof of a holiday cottage, passing a law limiting visitor numbers to an attraction or a group of volunteers installing footpaths to prevent people from trampling on rare plants.

Ecotourism is theoretically the lowest impact form of sustainable tourism. Visitor numbers are strictly limited (often by law), for example walking the Inca Trail in Peru or visiting the Galapagos islands, which minimises the damage and disturbance to these wild and sensitive places. Since visitor numbers are low, prices need to be high in order to compensate and benefit the local economy.

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  1. Some people think that neither sustainable tourism nor ecotourism are achievable. Which of the following is NOT a possible reason for this?
    Air travel contributes to the greenhouse effect, tourists use more water and electricity than if it were just the locals, and waste has to be treated and/or disposed of without polluting the local environment
  2. Which of the following is NOT an aim of sustainable tourism?
    Sustainable tourism tries to achieve a positive outcome for local people, the environment, the tourists and tourist companies without overloading the attractions of the area
  3. The word 'staycation' has been invented to mean a holiday taken within driving distance of home, returning to sleep at home each night. Which of the following is NOT an economic or environmental benefit of a staycation?
    That is a social benefit
  4. Sustainable tourism is about stewardship. What does this mean?
    It is a personal responsibility that everyone has to look after the environment, whether at home, at work or as a tourist, to conserve it for future generations. Unfortunately, not everyone does this or believes that it is necessary
  5. Which of the following guidelines is most likely to be given to ecotourists in order to support the community?
    This ensures that any money spent on accommodation benefits the local community
  6. Which one of the following is NOT a reason for the growth of tourism?
    Advertising has increased people's awareness and desire for holidays
  7. Which of the following guidelines is most likely to be given to ecotourists in order to protect the local environment?
    Not using air conditioning would also be environmental advice, but the electricity is probably generated a long way away and the question asked about the LOCAL environment
  8. Conservation is a part of sustainable tourism. Which of the following is an example of conservation when applied to tourism?
    Conservation is looking after the environment on a local scale in order to ensure that it is not damaged to the point where the attraction is no longer attractive to visitors
  9. What is ecotourism?
    As well as guarding the environment, ecotourism is a form of tourism that ensures that the local community benefits
  10. In Britain, during the 1950s, more and more people found they could afford to buy and run a car. How did this affect tourism in the UK?
    Holidays at seaside resorts and purpose built holiday camps were popular

Author: Kev Woodward

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