5 places that have been ruined by tourism
Tourism is both a blessing and a curse. While a healthy amount can boost the economy, too much of it can be harmful to the environment and uproot local populations. Before you book your next trip, consider how your wanderlust is affecting some of the most beautiful places in the world.
1. Caño Cristales, Colombia
With “the river of five colours,” also known as “the melted rainbow,” waters that are a hallucinogenic concoction of pink, red, green, and blue colours (a result of the unique micro-organisms living in it) and its jaw-dropping waterfalls, Caño Cristales is now overwhelmingly popular.
And, it’s only become more so after a 2016 peace agreement was signed between the government of Colombia and the country’s largest rebel group.
The uptick in foot traffic is cause for concern, as it could jeopardise the area’s extremely fragile ecosystem. In 2017, access was restricted to give the river a break.
“We decided to implement the restriction because human presence can harm the plants’ reproduction processes,” Faber Ramos, coordinator of the ecotourism program, told the BBC.
2. Maya Beach, Thailand
The cult classic Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach turned this remote beach in Thailand into a major tourist trap.
It’s not hard to see why! The secluded cove features glittering, translucent water, white sands, and limestone cliffs.
Then as more and more tourists flocked to the sandy shores, Maya Beach became impossible to enjoy; visitors could hardly walk, never mind lie down.
Thailand was forced to close the beach for months in 2018.
Though the closure was only supposed to be temporary, it’s now shut down indefinitely.
3. Boracay, Philippines
The beautiful island of Boracay once was revered for its exclusivity but in recent years mass-market tourism and lack of infrastructure have led to a major downfall.
The island underwent a six-month closure to visitors in 2018 to allow authorities to restore it, reports the Telegraph.
It reopened in October with strict new rules: masseuses, vendors, bonfires, watersports (save for swimming) and the builders of Boracay’s infamous sandcastles are now banned.
Also under the new rules, a maximum of 19,200 tourists are allowed on the island at any one time.
Many hotels and restaurants have been shut down for not meeting standards, and a mere 160 tourism-related businesses have been approved to re-open.
4. Machu Picchu, Peru
“Machu Picchu is a great attraction, but we are worried about its sustainability,” Sandra Doig, incoming tourism deputy director of PROMPERU, the Commission for the Promotion of Exports and Tourism of Peru told the Washington Post.
“It is being affected by too many people at the citadel at the same time.”
One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, the Incan citadel is set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru.
Getting there is quite a feat, and yet record numbers of visitors flood the region annually (610,000 from January to July 2018).
To combat the masses damaging the site, tourism authorities are attempting to impose strict time slots, advance ticket purchase, and visitor limits.
5. Venice, Italy
Built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, the main allure of Venice is its famed canals, while the abundance of delicious food and wine, the culture, and the ornate architecture add to its allure.
But over-tourism has chipped away at the city’s vitality.
Cruise ships and group bus tours have made infamous sights like St. Marks Square a blur of people and the streets are lined with litter; between the hoards of humans and the rising sea levels, Venice is sinking rapidly and the stonework and carvings on its historic buildings are crumbling.
Venetians are finally fighting back, however: Beginning summer of 2019, short stay tourists will be charged up to €10 (about $11.50) to enter the city.
Nothing’s worse than that sinking feeling you get when you head off on your adventure and remember you left something important at home.