Travel Trouble

5 places that have been ruined by tourism

5 places that have been ruined by tourism

Tourism is both a blessing and a curse.

While a healthy amount can boost the economy, too much of it can be harmful to the environment and uproot local populations.

Before you book your next trip, consider how your wanderlust is affecting some of the most beautiful places in the world.

1. Caño Cristales, Colombia

With “the river of five colours,” also known as “the melted rainbow,” waters that are a hallucinogenic concoction of pink, red, green, and blue colours (a result of the unique micro-organisms living in it) and its jaw-dropping waterfalls, Caño Cristales is now overwhelmingly popular.

And, it’s only become more so after a 2016 peace agreement was signed between the government of Colombia and the country’s largest rebel group.

The uptick in foot traffic is cause for concern, as it could jeopardise the area’s extremely fragile ecosystem. In 2017, access was restricted to give the river a break.

“We decided to implement the restriction because human presence can harm the plants’ reproduction processes,” Faber Ramos, coordinator of the ecotourism program, told the BBC.

2. Venice, Italy

Built on more than 100 small islands in a lagoon in the Adriatic Sea, the main allure of Venice is its famed canals, while the abundance of delicious food and wine, the culture, and the ornate architecture add to its allure.

But over-tourism has chipped away at the city’s vitality.

Cruise ships and group bus tours have made infamous sights like St. Marks Square a blur of people and the streets are lined with litter; between the hoards of humans and the rising sea levels, Venice is sinking rapidly and the stonework and carvings on its historic buildings are crumbling.

Venetians are finally fighting back, however: Beginning summer of 2019, short stay tourists will be charged up to €10 (about $11.50) to enter the city. 

Nothing's worse than that sinking feeling you get when you head off on your adventure and remember you left something important at home.

3. Antarctica

The entire continent of Antarctica is in trouble, between global climate change and the mass infiltration of tourists via cruise ships.

The boat traffic, from Chile and Argentina down to the Antarctic Peninsula, has greatly increased water pollution, threatening the lives of unique species. 

The Antarctic Treaty has sought to stop such environmental devastation, limiting the number of people allowed on shore to 100 at a time, while ships carrying more than 500 passengers are not allowed at any of the landing sites.

Sailing to Antarctica, cruising the Galapagos Islands and travelling along the Trans-Siberian Railway are the top three trips every traveller must take in their lifetime, according to US-based Flight Network’s World’s Best Once-In-A-Lifetime Journeys 2018 list.

4. Pig Beach, The Bahamas

The only inhabitants of Big Major Cay are wild pigs, known most famously for swimming in the sea, a phenomenon that draws tourists to the island off Exuma for an encounter and photo opp.

In 2017, a wave of pig deaths struck Pig Beach.

While a combination of factors likely lead to their death, reports National Geographic, the government banned visitors from feeding the creatures.

5. The Isle of Skye, Scotland

One of the most picturesque places in the United Kingdom, The Isle of Skye is known for its rugged landscapes, quaint fishing villages, and medieval castles.

Crossing the Skye Bridge to the island from Scotland’s northwest coast is a test of patience these days, with hoards of people packed in caravans, motorhomes, and cars, often in stand-still traffic.

Visitors without prior booking accommodations have found themselves in a pickle. 

According to authorities, tourists often arrive at the police station with nowhere to stay asking for advice.

Many end up staying the night in their car.

Local authorities have taken note, advising visitors to use “common sense” before travelling to the island for an overnight stay.

Have you stayed at any of these places? Let us know in the comments.

Written by Alexa Erickson. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.