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Tourism’s Ecological Toll

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Environment Conservation


Source: TH

Context: Major tourist destinations in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Hawaii (USA), Spain, and Greece are facing intermittent distress and closure due to the impact of disasters related to anthropogenic development activities.


Tourism’s Ecological Toll:

Aspect Explanation Examples
Ecological Impact Uncontrolled tourism infrastructure development, such as widened highways and landslides, harms the environment. Frequent landslides in Himachal Pradesh often on the Char Dham Yatra route
Conflict of Discourses Disagreement between economic growth and conservation perspectives, leading to a development vs. nature clash. Development plans vs. conservationists’ concerns over protecting fragile ecosystems esp. in the Himalayas and Western Ghats
Hospitality Industry Neglect Negligence of hotels and resorts towards forest disappearance and improper waste disposal. Hotels fail to adopt eco-friendly practices, leading to environmental degradation.
Rivers as Drainage Improper waste disposal in rivers exacerbates flooding and disrupts river habitats.
Policy Perception Overemphasis on tourism’s economic benefits in policy decisions, neglecting ecological consequences.
Tourists’ Impact Unaware tourists unintentionally contribute to environmental harm through travel styles, overconsumption and preferences.


Steps taken to address the Issues:

  • National Strategy for Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Traveller CampaignLaunched in 2022 by the Union Ministry of Tourism
  • Kerala Tourism’s Green Carpet initiative promotes eco-friendly practices in tourism.
  • Uttarakhand’s ban on construction in the 100-meter radius of rivers to protect river ecosystems.
  • Sunderbans National Park’s management plan is to ensure wildlife conservation alongside tourism.
  • Ladakh’s promotion of electric vehicles and solar-powered accommodations for sustainable tourism.
  • Sikkim’s development of sustainable homestays and eco-lodges blend with the natural environment.
  • Amsterdam: Its mayor has decided to ban cruise ships from docking at the city centre
  • Hawaii: Residents are protesting against the high footfall of tourism, often interfering with their social and cultural life.



While tourism offers economic benefits and cultural exchanges, its ecological impact cannot be overlooked. Governments, stakeholders, and travellers alike must collaborate to strike a balance between tourism and environmental preservation.


Insta links

 Tourism in the Himalayas is not uniform; its impacts though are detrimental


Mains Links:

Define the concept of the carrying capacity of an ecosystem as relevant to an environment. Explain how understanding this concept is vital while planning for the sustainable development of a region. (UPSC 2019)

Discuss the risks and benefits of Eco-Tourism with examples in India? (250 words)