Can tourism protect nature?


A beach temporarily closed in Maya Bai, Thailand may have lost some of its appeal as a Hollywood icon, but it has earned a reputation as an example of what tourism industry can do for the environment.

“Once a pristine Thai paradise, the secluded bay made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio movie “The Beach” has been exhausted by mass tourism. Now it’s getting a break”, according to a New York Time report.

“Dozens of boats and thousands of visitors unsuccessfully scrambling for an unspoiled view of Maya Bay’s emerald waters and glistening white sand will end. The attraction is being closed for four months to give its coral reefs and sea life a chance to recover”, the newspaper added.

The closure does not seem only a momentary tendency to satisfy the defenders of nature. Thai authorities say they are striving to balance profit and conservation and the closure will happen every year. “It is part of a rethink happening globally about unrestricted tourism that brings in big dollars but damages historic sites, harms the environment and often alienates locals” the report estimated.

Thailand had about 35 million international visitors last year, a five-fold increase in little more than two decades.
Fortunately, the temporary closure is not an isolated event.

Alleging the same reasons, Philippines began a six-month closure of popular Boracay Island, whose waters President Rodrigo Duterte described as a “cesspool.” Venice, the famed Italian lagoon city that lives off tourism, installed gates at two access bridges during a four-day holiday in April so it could turn back visitors if numbers became overwhelming.
Yoong Island, part of the Phi Phi island chain, and Tachai Island in the Similan Islands National Park, have been off-limits to tourists since mid-2016.

On the other side of the world there are also serious concerns about what can be done a massive mass tourism to nature. International scientists have warned that more rare species are being threatened by tourism on the Galapagos Islands.

Among them are lizards, birds and other animals that live on the islands. Most of them are killed by the growing number of cars and buses that cross the highlands. Especially finches, birds that helped Charles Darwin prove his the theory of evolution, are in danger of dying out completely.

The Galapagos, volcanic islands in the Pacific, about a thousand km off the coast of Ecuador, represent a whole ecosystem with animals and plants that cannot be found elsewhere on earth.

And it’s not just about protecting nature, but also tourism.

Tourism is good for many reasons. It is an important economic resource for many nations and a unique way to sow fraternity among people of different regions and cultures. So the world is obliged to avoid massive excesses that could erase the gigantic tourism prestige.

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