Chapter 6: The Environmental Impacts of Tourism

Question 1: To what extent can national governments reduce the negative impacts of tourism?

Answer Guide: Governments may get involved in actions to reduce negative impacts in order to preserve environments and any supporting communities reliant upon them. Governments can control impacts through restrictions such as access bans or requirements for a license or permit to enter an area.

Governments can also use soft management techniques such as education, which may help to reduce any negative impacts. Governments can limit visitor numbers or require tourists to be accompanied by a guide (responsible for controlling the behaviour of tourists).

That said, in many cases (but not exclusively), these are local government actions. National government actions may include legislation or taxation to control impact.

Question 2: This chapter reveals that the country of Bhutan controls visitor numbers through a policy that requires a high minimum daily spend on entry. To what extent would a ‘high-pricing’ approach be possible and/or desirable for tourist attractions already receiving excessive levels of visitation?

Answer Guide: While using a ‘high-pricing’ approach does mean that the value earned per visitor is high, it does lead to some ethical questions regarding the exclusion of tourists based on an ability to pay. In cases such as some heritage or cultural attractions, education may be of paramount importance and thus excluding the less-wealth sectors of society seems inappropriate. Furthermore, if the attraction is not iconic (i.e. a ‘must-see’), it may be considered interchangeable with other attractions and thus a high price would deter visitors.

Question 3: How can an understanding of carrying capacity assist managers of popular tourist destinations?

Answer Guide: Carrying capacity provides a numerical value reflecting the number of tourists who can be absorbed by an area. This is often considered in terms of the physical or ecological carrying capacity but also must be considered in terms of psychological capacity (the degree of congestion tolerated by visitors before appeal diminishes). For managers establishing carrying capacity can justify restrictions on access. It can also highlight when areas are under extreme pressure.