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The Role of Tourism on the Environment and Its Governing Law

Ali Asadzadeh, Mir Sajjad Seyyed Mousavi

Published Date: 2017-04-28
Ali Asadzadeh1,*, Mir Sajjad Seyyed Mousavi2

1Department of Public Law, Central Tehran Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran;

2Assistant Professor, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.

*Corresponding Author:
Tel: 00989143404867

Received date: March 28, 2017; Accepted date: April 25, 2017; Published date: May 04, 2017

Citation: Asadzadeh A, Mousavi MSS. The Role of Tourism on the Environment and its Governing Law. Electronic J Biol, 13:1

Visit for more related articles at Electronic Journal of Biology


The tourism industry is the world's largest and most complicated industry and this complexity is because of having a strong bond with social, cultural, political and environmental issues. In the meantime, because of the connection between tourism and the environment together, the effects of tourism in this area are more remarkable. So in this regard, attention and understanding of the effects of tourism on the environment and its governing law seems necessary in order to meet the challenges and achieve the goals of sustainable tourism.


Industry; Tourism, Environment, Sustainable tourism, Law.

1. Introduction

Tourism as one of the fundamental and inherent human rights is inseparable from his essence and there has been emphasis in the Holy Quran for people to enjoy it. The international documents and organizations also have recognized it as a right for humans and countries need to recognize it as their own domestic laws and regulations formulated to provide its implementation [1].

Tourism phenomenon which itself is a socio-cultural phenomenon refers to the mobility of people. The accelerated growth has caused many scholars of 20th century, to call it the century of tourism. Experience has proved that tourism always involves economic, environmental and social impact [2]. The main pillars of the tourism and the natural attractions such as mountains, rivers and lake have made the tourists and travelers to travel to a specific destination [3].

In the meantime, tourists of ecotourism have often environmental tendency and can play an important role in refining and protecting environment, and also developing the environmental culture among the people [4].

Careful attention to the limited natural resources and having a sense of social responsibility towards the host society and culture that are influenced by the industry is among the factors that are important in terms of boosting the tourism industry. In general, when tourism industry and travel are planned and managed in an appropriate way, the advantages of non-economic benefits such as the preservation of culture and environment and the maintenance of peace will be provided within [5].

The famous proverb that says: "Tourism is like fireworks. In this way it is able to obtain food for home or to burn it" [6]. So in this context, we are going to examine the effects of tourism on the environment.

2. Tourism and Environment

Travel and tourism is considered as the biggest and most renowned industry in the world. Many countries know this dynamic industry as the main source of income, employment, and private sector growth [5].

Since tourism paces its evolution as an industry in many countries, it has always been an important issue in many countries [5]. Tourism is one of the industries that can help countries to achieve the economic, environmental and social aims [7].

Many of these forms of tourism especially related to those with special incentive to visit spectacular places heavily rely on natural resources and culture of region tourism. As a result, an explanation of the environment and cultural heritage is one of the main topics of tourism development in the present age [8]. In tourism it is common to have a distinction between the physical environment and socio-cultural environment (the purpose of the physical environment includes earth, air, water, vegetation, wildlife and man-made stuff. The purpose of socio-cultural environment is human and political, cultural, economic and social influence on his life. The physical environment is one of the main sources of tourism and since the ancient Greeks and Romans; travelers have used to move to nature by the motive of getting experience.

With the Industrial Revolution, modern tourism was founded. Watching the flow of natural environment and coastal areas changed into the recreation and holiday spending. Travelers were influenced by various environmental factors, and that's why they came up with the following of several products and services based on tourism [5].

According to widespread media reports about global environmental problems and issues, attention to the environment is becoming increasingly more important. Thus the environmental issue is also a major tourist issue.

People and officials of countries have realized that they have to be more serious on the health of the planet, otherwise crisis and disaster will threaten everyone’s future life. Earth has a limited capacity, so it must be properly protected to survive. Policymakers have realized that the development of tourism industry in the future, need to be consistent and in accordance with the requirements of the environment.

Meanwhile, some believe that the tourism industry is one of the best economic activities which has the minimal damage to the environment and that's why it is called industry without smoke and pollution. But we should not forget that ancillary services such as transportation and exploitation of natural resources in tourism, indirectly lead to pollution of the environment. Accordingly, in the future, the tourism development should be performed with caution and with the development of tourism; environmental protection should also be actively pursued [3].

Fortunately, in recent years, tourism trips have been along emphasizing on the importance of environmental protection [6]. Undoubtedly, tourism activities in the areas of ecotourism can leave environmental consequences either directly or indirectly.

Some positive effects:

• Promoting the environmental culture in the tourist and cultural approach.

• The acquisition of foreign currency and an increase in gross national income and the expansion of accommodation, catering.

• Providing employment issues such as the production and sale of goods, transport and services.

• Development of the integration of tourism activities.

Beside the positive consequences, no doubt the negative environmental effects of tourism are also realized. The negative effects may include:

• The destruction of the natural environment of the woodlands and meadow through hiking.

• Forest fires and destruction of plants.

• Scattering of waste in coastal waters, lakes, rivers, fountains, parks and open spaces.

• The occurrence of excessive construction in the vicinity of tourist centers.

• An increase in noise pollution and air pollution caused by vehicle traffic and bustle of people.

• The destruction of wildlife and plant species [9].

So the development of tourism can make both positive and negative impacts. Development and management of tourism in a way that can be compatible with the environment and not damage it, is an important factor in achieving sustainable development. In order to understand the effects of tourism on the environment, tourism planning in terms of the environment is important.

In the case that good tourism comes to be planned, managed and developed properly, then it can have positive environmental impacts including:

• Helping to justify and pay for the preservation of important natural areas and wildlife, including marine environment, national and regional parks.

• Helping to justify and pay for the preservation of archaeological and historical areas as tourist attractions.

• Helping to improve the environmental quality of the area. Because tourists are interested in visiting nice, clean and pollution-free areas.

• Increasing awareness of the local environment.

If good tourism planning, management and development is not given, it can cause a variety of negative environmental effects that include:

• Water pollution caused by improper disposal of sewage and waste disposal systems developed for hotels and other accommodations. Pollution of rivers, lakes and coastal waters and groundwater pollution due to wastewater loss coming from contaminated water.

• Visual pollution arises from several factors, hotels and other tourist facilities with poor design, bad facilities made by ill-designed plans, providing inadequate facilities, the use of large and ugly advertising signs and blocking the spectacular views of tourism development.

• Problems of waste disposal, waste thrown away by tourists and improper disposal facilities made by tourist organizations.

• Ecological disturbance of natural areas by using excessive and inappropriate abuse of tourists and tourism development. Marine environments, coastal, mountain and desert all types of important tourism regions are particularly vulnerable in the face of ecological damage.

• Damage to archaeological and historical sites by the maltreating tourists and inappropriate tourism development.

• Environmental risks and problems caused by land-use planning, construction and poor engineering tourist attractions and facilities [8].

Construction of infrastructure for the transportation industry (such as roads, terminals and airports) can also have severe effects on the environment, for example, building a road and pouring asphalt and road needs to blow up the mountain. A few kilometers or several hundred kilometer route from different areas can have devastating effects on its environment.

Spraying of pesticides and chemical fertilizers and sewage problems have become a major problem of environmental pollution in the passenger's destination. The hot zone and tropical islands that attract many tourists are very vulnerable to the negative effects and adverse tourism industry has had very bad impacts on the environment. Examples of the damage that is inflicted on the environment of the Maldives due to berthing ships, like destroying coral reefs and fishing marine animals-have severely damaged the area.

An increase in tourists and too much pressure on water resources, food and energy have caused these losses which are very heavy and irreparable. According to estimates, the average water consumption per passenger or tourist (as measured by the amount of water used for watering gardens and hotel lawns, golfing fields and swimming pool is ten times more than the amount that is necessary for the survival of the organization.

Excessive fishing and taking lobster for tourists on the shores of the Caribbean Sea animals has led generations of these animals to be under the threat of destruction.

Cutting and burning trees in the Himalayan region for heating tents of tourists is causing the loss of many trees and animals that can live in these conditions and sometimes eliminate these resources to build vehicles that are purchased by tourists as souvenirs.

Feeding wild animals causes illness and some tourists’ harsh treatment threats or even may destroy these animals. Tutankhamun tomb in Egypt, due to overcrowding, the increase of moisture and bacteria from all these people (daily about 5 thousands) has been under a serious threat. Most of the harms and losses that physically enter the environment is not intentional and only the presence of some people in one place causes such damage or losses.

Several factors can cause positive or negative effects of tourism on the environment:

• The number of tourists and the type of activities that are carried out for the needs of the people.

• The type of habits by these people in specific places at specific times. The more people travel the path of the church, the more soil erosion and road destruction takes place and the more time they spend in those places, the more problems will threat the durability of that place. So we cannot easily provide a criterion to measure their impacts on the environment.

These effects usually depend on time and place where the tourists or visitors go. For example, in New Jersey when birds begin to lie, the arrival of tourists to the places causes a decrease in their breeding. But if they look to these animals from a distance, it cannot have harmful effects on the generation of this type of birds.

• The type of activities done by the travelers. As described above, tourism can directly affect the lives of certain types of birds, especially in one place.

Obviously, watching the home of many rare birds belonging to a certain region from a distance can bring less loss (if compared to getting closer to their nesting place). Other examples that are not so visible, but the type of movement could be harmful, for example, pause or stop by the tourists when passing through the forest or birds’ laying sites on the eggs or chicks so as not to hurt them. Because the birds pay more attention to movement.

• The type of environment that will be affected. Environments are different in terms of sensitivity and vulnerability. For example, the frozen regions of the Antarctic are samples of environment that are very vulnerable. Because it has always survived in certain weather condition without any kind of human’s interference.

And Europe more than any other historical cities are affected by tourists and that the waterways of that place is used too much.

• The way of tourism management and planning. The effects of tourism on the environment depend on the way of management and planning practices that the organization performs.

Most of negative effects of tourism on the environment relate to those parts where less or no management and control have been done [5]. Also understanding the importance of the relationship between tourism and the environment has led the industry to give high priority to environmental factors and environmental protection and in the stage of operation thus act so [5].

In general, if we want to have a summary of the effects of tourism on the environment we can see them in the three areas of environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources and physical results.

So we must admit that the environment is not the product but it is actually a capital and any successful businessman thinks of the continuation of capital gains and income stability. The main problem of tourism is the lack of culture and awareness [6].

3. Ecological Tourism

In general, the development of tourism gradually provides enough time to be able to control its impact on the environment. Changes in mode of development are required.

Obtaining the seasonal reduction techniques particularly the reduction of the use of tourism especially in busy seasons, is another useful way.

Environmental problems often occur only in the busy seasons, when imposing an additional burden on infrastructure and attractions, facilities and services are overused.

In addition to these general approaches, specific measures must be applied in order to control the effects of tourism on the environment. These measures include:

• Insertion of well-designed welfare systems of water supply, electricity, sewage and waste disposal and drainage for tourist facilities.

Environmental technology should be applied, such as water purification and recycling of waste and the use of solar generating heat.

Most of these systems can be expanded to the overall development of tourism in the region and thus help local communities benefit from tourism development.

• Development of roads and other transportation systems enough emphasis on the development of public and non-polluting means of transport for the movement of tourists. For example, the electric buses used in tourist resorts. Field maintenance of vehicles transporting tourists is very important.

• Creating open space, parks and landscaping fit in the area of tourism.

• Environmentally appropriate land use practices and principles of regional planning, zoning regulations, standards development and architectural design in the area of tourism.

• Careful handling during the visit of tourists from absorbing features. In vulnerable areas, it may be necessary to limit the number of visitors or occasionally or be prohibited all year round. For some important areas, modeling methods can be used to build an example of an area or attraction for visiting tourists, because of the ban on tourists in the main area.

• Prohibiting the felling of trees in the area of the encampment and the march, collecting samples of rare plants and animals and disturbing the natural behavioral patterns of wild animals by tourists. Hunting and fishing should be allowed only under carefully controlled conditions.

• In the marine area, several types of control are necessary. Operations to clean up sewage and disposal counterweights, ships, using motor boats in environmentally sensitive areas, collecting live shells and sea, endangered coral and sea life, fishing with spears, disorder turtle nests, using boats anchored in the bay in which there are the coral beds and mining of sand and coral for building purposes.

Boat docks should be properly designed so that they do not lead to erosion and other problems.

• Maintaining high standards of health and safety for the benefit of both tourists and residents. There may be additional regulatory measures that their activities depend on tourism features that exist in specific areas. Informing tourists of this monitoring is very important because of their actions.

• If tourists realize these controls and regulations, they’ll more likely want to adopt [8].

The purpose of so-called sustainable tourism states the country's ability to be a tourist destination and preserves itself in the face of new competitors and territories which have fewer viewers and are more attractive.

At first glance they are able to attract tourists and encourage them to discuss the next visit of those places that are culturally unique and can make a balance with the environmental factors [5].

The development of sustainable tourism has different definitions and it’s cited as, environment-oriented, and moderate development. The development of a comprehensive, responsible development and the development of specific tourism are cited. Inneroriented development has mostly relied on domestic sources and the environment-oriented puts emphasis on the environment. Specific tourism development is based on the idea that every region should pay attention to different environmental factors (such as the cultural, economic, etc.) and should have their own tourism selection.

For example, an area with its own traditional culture tourism and tourists must be compatible with their culture. The responsible development presents itself as responsive and responsible in the community and tries to develop tourism based on the expectations and needs of the community. Well-balanced and allround development pays attention to all the factors in society and respects the environment. It tries to integrate all the factors to achieve an optimal state in development. In general, the development of sustainable tourism is:

Developing tourism and attracting tourists to the country using available resources in such a way while responding to the economic needs of society, cultural and legal norms and expectations of tourists would also maintain unity, cultural identity, environmental health, economic balance and welfare of the people and their guests [3].

The definition of sustainable tourism that highlights three important things:

1. Quality of sustainable tourism that can offer high-quality experience tourist or traveler. It also allows the host society to improve the quality of life and environmental quality is also maintained.

2. Maintenance and duration. Sustainable tourism guarantees sustainable natural resource which has been the basis for its existence. It also guarantees the culture of the host society that is a valuable source of experience.

3. Balance. Sustainable tourism establishes some kind of balance between the needs of the tourism industry, protection of the environment and the local community. The mutual goal of sustainable tourism creates a kind of cooperation among tourists, travelers and destination host or local community while in the past these were different and had sometimes conflicting objectives [5].

The rapid growth of the tourism industry in the last half century has caused increasing pressure on the environment. The results indicate that giving priority to the development of uncontrolled economic benefits of tourism would undermine the principles of sustainable development in various communities and the environment has faced with increasing risks [10-12].

Unfortunately, both public and private sectors have been involved in the destruction of the environment and have preferred sustainable development for balanced economic development. Research has shown that although the tourism industry relies on ecology but it has not succeeded in protecting environment.

There are great examples of ecological damage and environmental degradation caused by the reckless and uncontrolled tourism development. These facts have caused the thinkers, social reformers and scholars to emphasize on the need to alert communities about environmental protection and insist on adopting efficient policies and measures for environmental protection, tourism development and halt of destruction [13].

The purpose of sustainable tourism and environmental resources does not only depend on the industry's economic recovery but it also relies on social and cultural resources [5]. Tourism also has a great capacity to influence the cultural, economic, political, environmental and social issues but cultural effects of tourism have practically a priority on the other results of tourism [6].

Also for a breakthrough in the management and development of tourism, planning at all levels is required. Tourism development without planning, not only won’t get any success, but it also makes the host society with social and environmental problems [14].

In the meantime, paying attention to the effects of development on the environment is one of the main tasks of planners and managers of the tourism industry.

The evaluation of tourism impacts on the environment has become a common practice and accordingly an important part of planning. Attention to the effects of socio-cultural development of tourists is of utmost importance.

Although these effects cannot be easily traced and quantified, but the experience of some regions (to passengers), has confirmed the effects of tourism on culture and people can play a vital role in line with the plan. In many countries, tourism is one of the most intimate industries to environment that is respected from the all aspects. The industry is not obliged to carry out activities that in the past led to the destruction of the environment.

Actually there is no need for extraction or exploration of mining, pouring waste into the water and air pollution (Such as factories and refineries) and also no need to spray and pollute the environment.

Many activities and services in this industry are relatively safe and do not cause environmental pollution. Despite this, tourism has many effects on the environment. If we consider the issue from the perspective of the tourism, success depends on the quality of the environment.

The aim of sustainable development requires the region (to passengers) to be of higher priority. That is , having a comprehensible definition for the things that affect the environment is very important.

According to the industry in terms of cultural and social effects that this will have on the environment, tourism pressures and changes imposed on groups or communities is very high.

In addition, these pressures come to be intensified when the people of a society pay more attention to their own culture, too.

In the current issue related to the social and economic effects of economic development on the environment, the impact is very relevant. Because a large number of places where foreign guests are welcome have become a touring or entertaining place. Traveling can be in a way that visitors can gain more experience from community and then come to confirm or justify it.

Such a move has caused the guests to have more closely contact with their local culture and environment. In many cases, this situation has caused losses to local community and the so-called openness of society becomes more vulnerable.

The number of tourists who go to leisure travel is on the rise. Thus the effects of this type of trips on the guests and their host society are also increasing [5].

Application of environmental planning and the integration of environmental protection measures in the planning process will prevent the occurrence of many environmental issues.

However, carrying out environmental impact assessment for any project of tourism development (and also important for all types of projects) is still important.

This approach ensures that certain projects will not create any serious environmental problems. If it is determined that a proposed project will create problems, it should not be approved or confirmed in the case that they are changed and acceptable. Environmental Impact Assessment methods have been developed at national and regional levels. Many countries have approved the environmental protecting and impact assessment laws. However, some countries have not taken the necessary steps in this direction.

Environmental impact assessment should include all types of effects. Environmental, economic, social, and cultural impacts. For example, even when a project with huge economic benefits..., may generate unacceptable environmental and social issues. Therefore, the project without its reform should not be approved [8].

So by considering the tourism development patterns, government policies in this field will be effective if infrastructure improvement, tourist attractions, tourism marketing, economic, social, political, environmental and religious factors come to be codified first [6].

4. Conclusion

Today, attention to the tourism industry has been doubled out of the importance and its relevance to the other social categories. So trying to resolve and believe in the necessity of development of the industry is more and more evident. Of course what add to concerns are the threats that spread through the industry and development of the different dimensions especially in the field of the environment.

In general, despite efforts to achieve success and block environmental degradation in this field, running tourist activities have associated with defects. In other words, although the industry has improved the environmental management, this should not lead us to forget the negative aspects of tourism on the environment.

In addition to studying the factors affecting the development of tourism, the infrastructure issues, strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities within the environment should be examined in a way that the operational strategies appropriate to the environment could be implemented. That is, the necessary strategies with all the features should be adopted in order that sustainable tourism aims could be taken desirably to a place that deserves the environment.

Although the relationship between tourism and the environment seems complicated but it includes many activities that can have adverse effects environment. Many of these effects by creating public infrastructure such as roads, airports and various facilities such as resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. are connected. The negative impacts of tourism development may destroy environmental resources. But cooperation with the tourism industry in maintaining the environment, the potential for effects on the environment will benefit. This is a way to raise awareness of environmental values and can be used as a tool for financial protection of natural resources and enhance the economic importance of the act.

This industry has great potential to increase its support for the environment and spread awareness of environmental problems. Because tourism puts people in closer contact with nature and the environment. This can cause your face to raise awareness of environmental values and environmental behavior and deliberate actions to protect the lead. Tourism can play a key role in the creation of environmental information and increasing awareness among tourists about the ecological consequences play activities. Environmental effects of changes in physical, chemical, biological, social and economic environment of different activities. Changes in water, soil, vegetation and wildlife impacts. Land degradation, waste, water pollution, noise pollution, destruction of coastal landscapes and many other items can be negative consequences of tourism development.

If the tourist industry along with protection of the natural cover, soil, air and water and is one of the most profitable industries will lead to job creation is broadly. Employment can be found in a variety of occupations including: transportation, food, crafts, hospitality, etc. take place. Also used the land and developed areas to recreational activities will create jobs and generate income. Above all, tourism is considered as a clean industry. Moreover, it is predicted that tourism in nature, account for the bulk of the tourism market in the coming years. In fact, this type of tourism, to promote the economic development of each country, the indigenous people of the region, preserve the natural values and ecological and cultural tourism areas, is appropriate. As a result, one of the main objectives of the tourism industry in the development of this sector will be considered. The tourism industry is able to draw attention to important environmental issues and is the founder of plans that protect and preserve the environment.


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