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Currently, ecotourism is rapidly becoming one of the world's largest industries. According to the World Trade Organization, 600 million people traveled to see "environmental areas" in 2000, spending more than 500 billion U.S. dollars. This makes ecotourism one of the world's number one earners, ahead of automotive products, chemicals, petroleum, even food .

But, what exactly is ecotourism? Ecotourism happens to be a special branch of tourism. The Conservation International defines it best saying it is "responsible travel that promotes the conservation of nature and sustains the well being of local people ."

There has been dramatic growth of participation in outdoor recreation and ecotourism activities. The bad impacts of ecotourism have led to high demands and this has attracted tourist developers looking to access the environment, "answering the tourist's demands".

Unfortunately, there are very few rules or regulations regarding ecotourism and its development. And because of the lack of rules tourism developers are destroying the environment. This problem can not go unnoticed. We are running out of places to ruin, and we will soon not have any where to call home.

According to Erlet Cater and Gwen Lowman,

"The much needed rules and regulations must include good and environmentally sensitive, infrastructure-including airports, transport and communications networks, and sanitation and electricity supplies. But above all else, sustainable ecotourism requires careful planning ".

Without this planning, ecotourism is doing more harm that good.

I will show how these tourist developers are putting huge strains on the environment and how the effects of this behavior will eventually leave the land with the inability to cope with the drastic changes. I believe with carefully planned ecotourism development and rules and regulations, we can make ecotourism and the environment blend simultaneously.

First, the tourist developers are adding increased pressure to the limited natural resources, especially in places like islands that are already inadequately supplied. For example, an average golf course in a tropical country, such as Thailand, needs as much water as 60,000 rural villagers .

Now, that's a lot of water, just for a golf course and if this kind of water usage continues, the tourist developers are using huge portions of our water resources that really aren't necessary. The tourism developers are also putting additional pressures on all the other resources such as energy, food, and other raw materials. The tourist developers have a high demand on these resources to meet the demanding expectations that most traveling tourists have.

Second, tourist developers are continuously adding all types of pollution: air, noise, solid waste and littering, releases of sewage, oil and chemicals, even architectural and visual pollution. One study estimated that a single transatlantic return flight emits almost half the CO2 emissions produced by all other sources (lighting, heating, car use, etc.) consumed by an average person yearly .

This large amount of pollution not only has effects on the environment but it has global effects as well. Transport emissions have also been linked to acid rain, global warming and photochemical pollution . And some of these impacts are quite specific to tourist activities. For example, especially in very hot or cold countries, tour buses often leave their motors running for hours while the tourists go out for an excursion because they want to return to a comfortably air-conditioned bus .

Noise pollution from airplanes, cars and buses, as well as recreational vehicles such as snowmobiles and jet skis, are an ever-growing problem. In addition to causing others annoyance, stress, and possible hearing loss it most importantly causes distress to the local animals.

According to Idaho News, a survey of snowmobile impacts on natural sounds at Yellowstone found that snowmobiles drowned out the sound of the Old Faithful geyser erupting and could be heard 90% of the time at eight other sites .

Third, all the most desirable tourist spots such as beaches, lakes, riversides, mountain tops, etc. are all rich ecosystems. The tourist developers are coming in and threatening the degradation of ecosystems. For instance, in the European Alps, tourism now exceeds more than 100 million visitor-days .

This kind of heavy tourist traffic is permanently damaging to the ecosystems and will lead to problems such as accelerated erosion, reduced plant vigor, and changes in species composition . This type of damage is especially harmful when tourists stray off the established trail, which frequently happens.

In addition, tourist activity in marine areas things like anchoring, snorkeling, sport fishing and scuba diving, yachting, and cruising are just some of the activities that can cause direct damage to the fragile marine ecosystems. Ocean Planet did a study of a cruise ship anchor dropped in coral reef for one day and found an area about half the size of a football field completely destroyed, and



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