According to Magdalena Milert, expert in the field of architecture and spatial planning, mass tourism is harmful to the Earth. In her opinion, the negative effects include primarily changes in the landscape, increased carbon dioxide emissions and enormous energy consumption.
An expert on the harmful effects of mass tourism
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimated that in 2016 alone, tourism-related transport accounted for 5 percent. total carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere that originate from human activities. According to the UNWTO estimates from December 2019 presented during the last COP25 climate summit, CO2 emissions by the tourism industry will increase by at least 25% by 2030.
Transport in the tourism sector includes great cruise ships. Milert pointed out that they are often tens of meters long, carry thousands of passengers and are compared to floating cities. Like cities, all these people on board use natural resources and produce waste, the expert noted.
Production of sewage on cruise ships
In her opinion, it is the discharge of waste that is one of the most serious problems in the context of this form of tourism. – Cruise ships produce large amounts of sewage, ballast water, sewage and solid waste. Passengers are estimated to produce up to 40 liters of wastewater and 340 liters of dirty water per person per day, she said and stressed that this amount far exceeds the average production of similar waste in residential buildings.
Milert noted that in the US, regulations require sewage treatment on cruise ships, so it is not as harmful as it used to be. In many countries, however, there are regulations for the exchange of ballast water at sea to prevent the spread of invasive species – the specialist pointed out. In her opinion, however, these rules are difficult to enforce outside the jurisdictional waters of a given country.
– The $ 20 million fine imposed on Carnival Cruises for improper waste disposal shows that the industry does not mind bending the rules of environmental protection – said Magdalena Milert.
As she pointed out, the movement of a cruise ship also requires huge amounts of fuel, which causes proportionally high emissions of CO2 as well as nitrogen oxide and sulfur. – The average CO2 emissions for a cruise ship are estimated to be 1,200 kg per kilometer. After all, journeys are thousands of kilometers long – emphasized the expert.
The anti-fouling paint used on ship hulls has an impact on the environment, Milert added. According to scientific studies, it dumps toxic heavy metals into the ocean. – The problem is exacerbated when ships are in port, where many vessels at the same time pollute the confined waters in the port area, allowing heavy metals to accumulate in higher concentrations, she noted.
How does mass tourism affect the planet?
According to the specialist, the negative effects of mass tourism on the Earth are primarily “overexploitation by the tourist and recreational base, changes in the landscape resulting from the construction of hotel facilities and equipping them with the necessary infrastructure, and along with their use – energy consumption and air pollution with carbon dioxide”.
Milert pointed out that hotels are highly exploited facilities that gather a lot of people in a relatively small area – “constantly cleaned, lit, where many people eat meals, bathe, watch TV, and often swim in the pool.”
As she added, hotels are very often located in places rich in landscape values, which over-exploit and exert a large environmental impact on them. – Tourists are also littering the area, densifying the population, noise and disturbing the peace of local residents and animals – she added.
– There is a heavy burden on the local resources of a given area, such as energy and water, which may become lacking especially in hot and dry areas. A tourist staying at a hotel uses an average of one third more water per day than a local resident, she said.
Milert noted that the energy consumption of hotel facilities is also higher: “It has been calculated that a one-star hotel uses 157 kilowatt hours of energy per square meter during the year. A four-star hotel, on the other hand, already consumes 380 kilowatt hours per meter.
She added that, according to EEA data, the local environment and people are also strongly influenced by the seasonality of tourism, when all negative phenomena intensify.
Magdalena Milert is an architect dealing with the issues of spatial order and sustainable spatial management, as well as urban planning and environmentally friendly architecture.
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