These Popular Tourist Destinations Were Ruined by Visitors
The best part of traveling to a new place is learning the culture, capturing the experience, and enjoying some of the notable attractions. The bad news? Some major destinations are getting sick of tourists. From economic decline, vandalism, and wear and tear on prominent landmarks, find out the reasons why these well-known tourist destinations will never be the same.
Pig Beach, Bahamas
Located on the island of Grand Exuma in the Bahamas is the wildly popular tourist destination dubbed Pig Beach. Tourists were able swim in the crystal clear water surrounded by the friendly wild pigs until a recent, mysterious event left several of the feral pigs dead. Some say their deaths occurred because of a few tourists’ actions, such as feeding the pigs junk food, letting the pigs ingest too much sand, and giving them beer and rum. According to the Bahamas Humane Society, only seven or eight pigs remained as of March 2017.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the largest and most impressive ecosystems in existence. However, due to tourism, it may not last beyond this generation. The Great Barrier Reef, located off of the east coast of Australia, attracts tourists worldwide. Unfortunately, those tourists have broken fragile corals by reef walking, dropped anchors, and emitted fuel and other pollutants. The sheer number of visitors may have also impacted the fragile reef environment. To combat these issues, the Great Barrier Reef Coastal Wetlands Protection Program is developing measures for the long-term conservation and management of priority wetlands.
Koh Tachai island, Thailand
Thailand closed the beautiful Koh Tachai island indefinitely in the summer of 2016 due to damage at the hands of tourists. Authorities said heavy tourism on the island was negatively affecting the prevalence of natural resources as well as the environment. “We have to close it to allow the rehabilitation of the environment both on the island and in the sea without being disturbed by tourism activities before the damage is beyond repair,” Tunya Netithammakul, director general of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation, told the Bangkok Post. Only divers will still have access to a few spots.
Machu Picchu, Peru
Peru and UNESCO set a 2,500 visitors per day restriction on Machu Picchu due to too much tourist activity. In 2015 alone, rates exceeded far beyond this limit, reaching 1.3 million tourists. To reduce wear and tear on the Inca citadel, the Peruvian government laid out a plan. The plan, which the government will implement in 2019, aims to disperse visitors and control crowd flow. It will require tour guides and restrict the time and areas tourists can visit.
The Colosseum, Rome, Italy
One of the most iconic historical sites in the world, the Roman Colosseum was host to ancient entertainment like gladiator fights and executions. The landmark, which dates back to 70-80 AD, had its first renovations completed in 2016, as part of a $30 million restoration project. These costly repairs came in response to reports that the Colosseum was deteriorating and sinking. It’s also been subject to vandalism throughout the years, prompting Roman officials to enforce a fine of over $20,000 for anyone carving into the walls.
The Great Wall of China
The construction of the Great Wall of China began in the 7th century BC in an effort to protect the Chinese empires against invasion. It’s arguably the most iconic tourist attraction in China and attracts millions of visitors each year. The wall spans over 13,000 miles, but reportedly only 8.2% of the wall is truly in good condition. This is because foot traffic has caused slow but significant destruction of the wall, in addition to purposeful vandalization like graffiti.
Boqueria Market, Barcelona, Spain
The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, simply referred to as La Boqueria, is Barcelona’s famous market. As a result of overcrowding, the market has banned large tourist groups from entering from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Stallholders at the market petitioned to implement these regulations to reduce heavy crowds which reportedly affected their businesses.
Cinque Terre, Italy
Cruise ships bringing visitors from around the globe to the picturesque island of Cinque Terre have caused a notable uproar among locals. While the cruise companies and local government have tried to find compromises, it’s the size of the island that remains the greatest barrier. “Tourists used to walk along the paths from one village to another but now they are concentrated in the villages, which are far too small to accommodate so many people,” Franca Cantrigliani, the mayor of Riomaggiore, told the Italian Tribune. “We’re trying to repair the paths so as to relieve the pressure a bit, but it takes time.”
Galapagos Islands, Equador
Preservation of this area has long been a concern. The United Nations listed the Galapagos as an endangered UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 2007. Unsustainable tourism and illegal overfishing are the two largest threats to the Galapagos. As a result, the World Wildlife Fund has implemented ecotourism efforts.
Tourists and scientists alike celebrate the Galapagos as the source of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. However, the preservation of the island, which acts as a living biology research lab for scientists worldwide, is crucial to continuing discovery.
Venice is sinking at the hands of tourism, and locals are refusing to go down with it. Nearly 80,000 visitors a day travel to Venice for its beautiful architecture, canals, and all the gnocchi they can eat. But the locals feel that tourism is ruining their quality of life with heightened costs and pollution. Nearly 2,000 Venetians recently marched to protest the deterioration of the city’s history and culture.
Carlo Beltrame, one of the march organizers and a researcher in humanities at Venice’s Ca’ Foscari University is passionate about keeping tourism under control. “If we go on this way, in a few years’ time Venice will only be populated by tourists. This would be a social, anthropological and historical disaster.”
Tulum is best known for its yogi-friendly, Instagram-worthy beaches and lavish restaurant pop-ups. Once viewed as an oasis from the violent crime in other parts of Mexico, Tulum has recently been placed on the U.S. Department of State’s travel alert list for rising crime rates.
The increasing tourism has negatively affected the residents of Tulum as well. It’s led to rapid hotel development, for one thing. And while powerful politicians attempt to develop the land as quickly as possible, the city’s infrastructure pays the price. As a result, raw sewage is spilling into one of the largest underground river systems in the world, reports Newsweek.
New Zealand’s largest export industry, tourism, brought in $34.7 billion in 2016. Unsurprisingly, this led to increasing developments in the hospitality industry. And although locals are hesitant to adopt the tourist industry as a legitimate career option, they can’t deny the impact it’s made on New Zealand’s economy.
However, many destinations tourists seek out simply don’t have the capability to handle the increasing traffic. The towns’ waste-water facilities, environmental efforts, and local taxes are all topics of debate. So, New Zealand has developed tourism strategies to better equip itself for the next decade, during which the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment expects tourism to continue rising.
A New York Times article exposed the dangers tourism poses to Cuba’s inhabitants. For example, food prices have risen drastically since the dramatic increase in visitors after U.S.-sanctioned travel restrictions were lifted in 2016. That’s because the hospitality industry has supplemented with the same food that once used only to feed residents. In turn, Cubans are growing more and more upset. “It’s a disaster,” Lisette Felipe told the New York Times. “We never lived luxuriously, but the comfort we once had doesn’t exist anymore.”
What’s been referred to as the “Game of Thrones effect” is in full force and is a contributing factor toward surging tourism in Iceland. With the availability of cheap fights and various marketing campaigns, tourism has increased two-fold between 2011 and 2015.
“The graph of tourist numbers is currently almost vertical,” said Professor Edward Huijbens of the Icelandic Tourism Research Centre in March 2017. Tourism rates have upped prices for locals and compromised the already fragile ecosystem. Residents have watched as roads and infrastructure suffer as a result of increasing tourist traffic.
Be a considerate traveler
While you may not be able to help the local economy of your destination (beyond feeding the tourism industry), you can be a considerate traveler by being respectful of the local culture and environment. Follow these travel tips and conduct thorough research before venturing somewhere new. You’ll help yourself while helping preserve the destination you’re visiting.