Relevance of Impact Studies on the Environmental Impacts of Tourism and Sustainability: A Review and Analysis

Relevance of Impact Studies on the Environmental Impacts of Tourism and Sustainability: A Review and Analysis

Ravi Sharma (Symbiosis International University, India) and Prakash Rao (Symbiosis International University, India)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5843-9.ch001


The chapter investigates the relationship and trends in tourism-environmental impact studies in research communities for past 10 years. It discusses the various components and categories of the environmental impacts within context to the tourism. To achieve the purpose, a bibliometric study of the Scopus-indexed publications was conducted and analyzed for three themes using the Scopus search-defined parameters. During the search defining parameters, a total of 125, 28, and 88 relevant documents were obtained from the database for the theme, tourism-environmental impact overall studies, tourism-environmental impact and carrying capacity, socio-cultural and perception-based relevant studies, respectively. Based on the results, the authors conclude that there is a significant increase in environmental impact and tourism-related studies in the past 10 years. European countries have a major contribution towards environmental impact and tourism studies as compared to other Asian countries. The technical studies using tools of assessment for environmental impacts and tourism linkages is still insufficient.
Chapter Preview


The science of ecology is increasingly being applied to different environmental problems. Among these, environmental management is a subject of great concern with a rapid increase in the nature of problems and their complexities (Sherbinin et al., 2007). Among one of these, the relation of tourism and the environment is of great concern in recent times. Tourism, a global industry has involved hundreds of millions of people in international as well as domestic travel each year (WTTC, 2015). According to the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in 2014, the tourism sector, in terms of international tourist arrivals recorded a high of 1133 million arrivals worldwide (UNWTO, 2015). The international tourist receipts are the earnings generated in destination countries from the expenditures on accommodation, food and drink, local transport, entertainment, shopping and other goods and services (Habibullah et al., 2016). According to UNWTO 2015, the Asia Pacific region constitutes 263.3 million numbers of the tourist arrival in 2014 and recorded 4 per cent growth in International tourist receipts. Africa and the Middle East also recorded +2 per cent and +3 per cent growth respectively in international tourist arrival from 2013 to 2014 being developing countries (UNWTO, 2015). The relationship between the environment and the tourism is a very close one and connected to the impacts on economy and in particular to environment (Habibullah et al., 2016) and threat on biodiversity conservation (UNEP, 2013; Christ et al., 2003). Rapid tourism development adversely impacts and negatively transforms not only natural areas like forests, marine environment, wetlands, wildlife, etc but also transforms negatively behavioral pattern of local communities and their perception towards tourism development (Sharma et al., 2016; Du Plessis et al., 2013), World Heritage Sites and archeological important sites (Leong, et al., 2017). Even before the Rio- Summit in 1992 and the signing of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the importance of the interrelationship between the tourism and biodiversity had been realized. In the last decade noted that tourism depends ultimately upon the environment, as it is the major tourist attraction itself, or is the context in which tourism activity takes place (Barros, et al., 2015; Buckley, 2012; Scherrer et al., 2011; Holden, 2000). Researches pertaining to the physical environmental impacts mainly observed and recorded environmental changes occurring in recreational areas has been increased in recent years (Gonson et al., 2017; Yang et al., 2017; Lee & Hsieh, 2016; Ballantyne & Pickering, 2015; Huhta & Sulkova, 2014). The mass tourism is one of the main causative phenomenon for biodiversity loss (Musoro et al., 2017; Gladstone et al., 2013; UNEP 2002). Research and reports on the environmental impacts of the tourism illustrated the fact that: “A high-quality environment is essential for tourism while the quality of the environment is threatened by tourists’ development itself…..because of its economic importance” (Leong et al., 2017; OECD 1980). Thus, on the one hand, environmental resources provide one of the necessary “ingredients,” a critical production factor, for the production of the tourist product: the natural and man- made a setting for the tourist to enjoy, live in, and relax. On the other hand, tourism produces a variety of unwanted by-products, disposed of, intentionally and unintentionally, to and modify the environment; the case of the negative environmental externalities (Banday & Ismail, 2017; Mejia & Brandt, 2017; Sun, 2016; Meleddu & Pulina, 2015; Briassoulis, 1992). In many regions of the world, tourism now represents a major threat to the environmental integrity of host regions, and hence constitutes a major management problem to be faced (Dong et al., 2015; Kaján, 2014; Kasprzak, 2011; Edgar et al., 2010; Finkl & Charlier 2003; Reading et al., 1994; Butler, 1991) by those responsible for the management and policy implementations. In a broad view, environment in relation to the tourism area encompasses the full range of elements of an area, including human as well as physical factors.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Environment: Surroundings in which a tourism activities or business operates. The environment can also be considered the surroundings where the tourist or visitors interact with the surroundings.

Environmental Impact: Change to the environment due to tourism related activities, tourism operations, wholly or partially.

Environmental Carrying Capacity: The term applies to the maximum number of tourists, tourist accommodations (infrastructure), which seems to be desirable at a given time above which the maximum growth rates itself unduly disruptive for the growth process.

Tourism: Activities of persons traveling to and staying in places outside of their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business, or other purposes.

Ecotourism: The type of tourism activities which covers three E’s – environment, education, and economy. This is considered as the sustainable way of using resources by protecting and conserving the destination for imparting education and generating revenue to the local economy.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: