Africa: Unplanned, uncontrolled tourism an environmental threat —Study

Although the travel industry has being rated as a significant economic engine for many countries across the world, however, if not properly managed, poses a threat to the environment.

“Tourism is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economic sectors, responsible for nine per cent of gross domestic product globally and providing one out of 11 jobs,” a report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Kenya, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisations in France, and Union of Concerned Scientists in the United States said.

But the very tourists whose dream vacations support those economies are also a threat.

According to a recent study titled: ‘World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate,’ carbon emissions from tourism contribute some five per cent of total global emissions and are predicted to more than double in 25 years.

“If unplanned, uncontrolled or poorly managed, however, tourism can have a wide range of negative consequences for World Heritage sites and their local communities,” the report said.

If poorly managed, tourism is also a threat to the wildlife people want to see.

“International tourism is heavily reliant on energy-intensive transport modes, particularly aeroplanes and cars, and the sector’s contribution to global carbon emissions, five per cent in 2005, is predicted to more than double by 2035,” the report said.

Tourism’s reliance on fossil fuels is “incompatible with the need to decarbonise the global economy,” it said.

It also noted a 2016 recommendation from the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection that the carbon emission standard for aircraft could be strengthened over time.