THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF TOURISM

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					                   THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF TOURISM
                  on the ECOLOGY of JAMAICA
                                            by

                                     Elaina Kozyr
                                       BLPR 101.51




Introduction

Tourism and the environment have a very complex and interdependent
relationship. Today, tourism is one of the largest industries in todays world
economy and is a great source of foreign exchange for many developing countries,
whose major assets are their natural resources.1 At the same time, it is the
environmental quality of a place that will determine the success of the tourism
industry, since it is the main attraction for tourists. There have been a lot of
arguments about whether tourism is beneficial or harmful to the environment. A lot
of the developing countries whose main source of foreign exchange is tourism
industry overlook certain setbacks such as the fact that sometimes they are not
prepared to meet and support such a vast amount of people. Most of the islands in
the Caribbean, including Jamaica, try to make the best out of this, taking
everything out of the environment and causing damage to their land that
sometimes can be permanent.

Not only do they use up their natural resources to support the growing tourism
industry, but they also deprive local population of what is righifully theirs. It is sad to
see how developing countries try to stay afloat in this competitive world, how they
are pressured to do everything and anything so that they could be economically
one step up from where they were before. Yet, all they do is take and take without
putting much back in. It doesn’t work that way, in fact, everything and everybody in
some way depend on one another. This brings us to the point that even tough
economic well being and development of the country depends on this multi-million
industry, tourism has its downside. Negative effects caused by tourism industry can
be very costly to the country and its population.

For the island of Jamaica as well as other islands, the effects include pollution
animal and plant extinction, coral reef destruction, inadequate sewage and waste
disposal system, deforestation, destruction and erosion of the beaches. This
doesn’t seem like a lot, but as the time goes by, the problem intensifies especially if
there is nothing done about it. Local community suffers as well, through shortages
of water and natural resources; most of the local population of Jamaica does not
directly benefit from the industry at all. An example of this would be the food that is
used by hotels, it is exported and almost nothing is purchased from the Jamaican
community.

Jamaica's Fragile Environment and Tourism

Jamaica is an island paradise located in the northern Carribean. It is one of the
islands that is visited by hundreds of thousands tourist annually. The main
attraction is its natural beauty: sandy beaches, clear water, distinguished wildlife,
and, of course, warm climate. Jamaica has been once known as the land of wood
and water, and the rich diversity of flora and fauna is still amazing to this day.
There are reported to be about 3,000 species of flowering plants alone, 827 of
which are not found anywhere else. There are also 25 species and 21 subspecies
of birds which are found nowhere else.2

Jamaica relies heavily on its tourism industry; however, in the process, ecology of
the island is suffering. Every little thing that is done to accommodate tourists sets
Jamaica one step back on the environmental scale. This is also due to the fact that
there is little done to improve present conditions of the island. The government, in
an attempt to encourage tourism investment, has let the hoteliers to keep their
money where they want.

Basically, the owner or operator of an approved hotel enterprise or resort cottage is
entitled to relief from income and dividend tax for a period of up to ten years. In
addition, the owner may also benefit from a duty exemption on imports for
constructing or expanding hotels3. So, all of this profit is usually kept in private
offshore accounts or invested in other projects overseas. Thus, it is not even
certain what percent of the money generated from the industry is put back into the
national economy and improvement of the ecology.

Pollution: The Effects of Increasing Population and Consumption

Recently, a lot of researchers have been paying attention at how the island has
been stressed by heavy population load. The island’s visiting population has more
than tripled in twenty years — now equal to almost half the size of its native,
resident population. Although the impact is rather different if the transient
population increases at this rate than if the permanent population does, an
increase in the tourist population of this magnitude poses very similar challenges
and problems as any other kind of population increase.4

In addition to the increasing number of tourists, the migration of native people in
search of jobs drawn bytourism growth has led people to live in environmentally
vulnerable locations. Such areas are already exposed to unfavorable conditions,
and more pressure caused by constant overuse of these territories by people
makes it more damaging to the island and its inhabitants.
The heavy flow of tourists is also related to the pollution of the environment.
Ordinary things that we usually don’t dwell on very much can have severe
consequences on such a small island as Jamaica. The use of airplanes to
transport people to and from the island, growing number of vehicles contribute to
pollution. This is a serious threat to an island of such proportions, the areas
available to people are highly sensitive to the wastes produced by the vehicles and
sewers which are dumped into the environment of the island. Pollution ranges from
unclean air to contaminated waters, and, in the case of Jamaica it’s both.

Jamaica’s inadequate sewage disposal system has been the cause for worries for
some time now, throughout the island. Even tough the large hotels generally have
treatment plants, the effectiveness of such is very questionable. Studies indicate
that the average tourist ingests ten times as much water and produces three times
as much solid waste as the average resident.5 Discharges from the sewage
systems are usually dumped into the ocean waters or nearby bay (as is the case in
Ocho Rios).

Not only does this causes pollution, destroys the wildlife of the ocean, it also
prohibits local population from using the bay and nearby waters. It also deposits
fecal matter, nitrates and phosphates, thus polluting the coastal waters that are
critical for both the area’s ecology and for its tourism industry. These deposits also
stimulate the overgrowth of algae that smothers coral reefs. Also, due to the
deposits of disposals, there is an increase in nutrients in the water which cause
fluctuations in the oxygen supply and distribution. This affects all aquatic life and is
a source of various diseases through seafood.

The volume of waste that is being treated and the efficiency of the operators are
factors that greatly affect the effectiveness of the treatment systems.6
Unfortunately, ocean waters are used as a dump, not only by resort areas, but also
directly by both residents and tourists. The sea floor was littered with bottles,
plastic cups, animal bones from kitchen garbage, even old furniture and unused
building supplies, while the surface had a white scum littered with floating citrus
rinds and other debris.7

Pollution and Water Shortage

The problem of sewage disposal is directly tied to that of water shortage. With
Negril used as an example, research showed that obtaining enough water to
operate hotel business properly was the biggest challenge in Jamaica. As it often
happens most areas have been overbuilt beyond the capacity of the local
reservoirs to provide enough water. For those on the beach this includes watering
lawns while for those in the West End it means washing dishes, laundry, providing
toilet flushes and showers for guests.

In the case of Negril, this discrepancy is because water flows from the Blue Hole
reservoir in Logwood carried throughout Negril by two inch pipes along roads and
by one half inch pipes from roads to buildings. The resort areas and beaches
receive water first. Several hotels keep holding tanks full for insurance when
pressure is poor or nonexistent. Beach hotels contribute to this problem by filling
tanks at night to replenish supply, leaving properties in the West End without water
pressure during evening and night hours.

There is deep resentment between small West End hoteliers against hotels on the
beach that receive water before the entire community could be equally served. The
big hotels that are serviced first are usually the primary polluters of the often
overflowing and inadequate sewage plants. So, the tourism industry has taken
water supply away form the local community only to serve as a pollutant of the
environment. Tourists are used to taking a shower and/or bath after every swim or
whenever they feel like it and flushing after every use of the toilet regardless of the
results.

As noted earlier, all of this water is delivered by very small pipes and the ones that
carry the wastes out are not much larger in size, which causes the problem of
overflowing. Resort areas are not concerned with where the wastes go, as long as
they have enough water and can accommodate they clients. Overbuilding of
tourism is the real problem for the conditions that caused these consequences in
the first place. However, no matter how you look at this problem, in the long term,
limited land areas make the option of disposal unsustainable.

Pollution and Corals

The consequences of the sewage disposal system include degradation of coral
reefs. Due to this problem as well as others coral reefs are diminishing in size and
number. The destruction of coral reefs along the coastline by tourists and cruise
ships is the biggest problem that marine biologists are concerned with right now.
Coral reefs support the most diverse ecosystems in the ocean and are very
important to the life of the marine world.8 Without coral reefs the beaches will
disappear as well as supporting fishing, diving, and snorkeling operations, all of
which are important assets of tourism industry.

Coral reefs of Jamaica had suffered damages from small boat anchors, boat
groundings, and snorkelers ans scuba divers. These tourism industry problems go
hand in hand with atop erosion, sewage, oil spills, and over fishing. The
degradation of coral reefs is important because they are to the marine world what
tropical forests are to life on land.9 Now, biologists are becoming concerned with
the growing number of medium sized and large cruise ships which are filled with
people visiting Caribbean. Many of those ships, when entering such
environmentally sensitive areas inflict serious damage to coral reefs with their
anchors and anchor chains. So, not only do these ships cause damage, they also
bring in tourists who congest and crowd beaches, also leading to coral breakage
and other damages.

According to researchers, the fish population in the area around the damaged coral
reef thinned during the period of two years (the length of observation period).
Recovery of coral reefs is usually lengthy and slow in process, but vary from place
to place and depend on the amount of damage received. Coral reefs take up to fifty
years to recover, and some do not recover at all. Such species of corals as star
and brain take centuries to grow back to the size before the damage. Most of the
time only ship captain knows when an anchor crashes onto a reef, but usually is
not aware of the damage being done. More often than not, damage occurs without
people realizing what are the consequences of their actions because they are not
educated about habitat of the ocean and the role they play in it at that moment.
According to recent studies, most people do not want to intentionally destroy a
marine ecosystem.10

Decline in Biodiversity

The current decline an biodiversity of the island is a serious threat. The human
activity causing the loss of biodiversity is many sided. The conversion of more and
more land to agriculture and resort areas leads to loss of habitats that are crucial to
animals and plants; disappearance of tropical forests, pollution and construction
works also contribute to loss of habitat. Due to the increasing demand of tourism
industry, more land is being converted to resort areas and new roads. Such hotel
and road constructions lead to the destruction of dune barriers and natural
environment.

Few years back, Jamaica’s beaches were lined by dunes of sand. Dune barriers
usually line the beaches along the sea shore formed by storm seas and serve as a
protection barrier for the land behind ir from flooding and erosion. Dunes of sand of
Jamaica were covered with vegetation that grew upwards through each deposit. An
extensive root system bound the sand in such a way that when destructive storm
seas struck the coast, the wave energy was absorbed and the dune barrier
protected the land behind it.11 The construction of numerous buildings, hotel
activities and the heavy use of public beaches have led to the removal of the
dunes, thereby leading to erosion of many beaches. In addition to disappearance
of dunes, the construction industry is the cause for sand elimination from the
beaches.

By replacing beaches and forests with newly built hotels and roads for tourism
industry, more pollution is created. It can actually cause ‘architectual pollution", a
condition where resort facilities clash with the native surroundings and
architecture.12 Wildlife can also be affected by tourism, since much of the industry
is geared toward photography, animal watching, and plant observation and
cultivation. Besides construction sites intruding on their lives, tourism can disrupt
feeding and breeding patterns of animals, sometimes it can even force the wildlife
to relocate. Littering in the area and feeding animals attracts wildlife to tourist
areas, thus altering their natural patterns and habitat.

Coastal resort developments of the area, deforestation, as well as tourism cause
wildlife give up their environment and move further away from their original habitat.
They have to adopt to new areas of living, adjust to overcrowdingioverpopulation in
one region, and adjust to scarce food and water supply. The tourism industry is
responsible for wildlife relocation, but sometimes is the reason that animals and
plants become extinct. In such cases nature is ruthlessly destroyed, and often it is
not even known how particular animal and plant species were wiped out. Collection
of plants or careless use of fire can destroy plant life. Littering causes changes in
soil nutrients, affecting vulnerability of the plants. Many migration birds stop in
Jamaica on their journey north to south.’3

The diversity of plant and animal life is in jeopardy due to the destruction of forests,
building of new resort areas and simply negligence mostly on the part of tourists
and then local population. With the destruction of habitat, there is loss of traditional
ways of life which also leads to the loss of knowledge of local plants and their
medical and other uses. The increasing demand of wildlife souvenirs by tourists,
attracts local population to the monetary value, thus rewarding the destruction of
animals. The crafts industry had contributed to the destruction of environment by
causing reduction of coral formation and encouraging theft of coral reefs for
souvenir production.

A 20-year study by scientists showed that habitat destruction and introduction on
non-native species have caused approximately 12.5 percent of the world’s plants
to now be so rare, they could easily disappear.4 Plants clothe us, feed us and our
animals, provide us with most of our medicines; yet, we continue to destroy it.
According to research, 91 percent of endangered plant species are found only in a
single country. Jamaica is faced with threats to its flora as well as fauna, where the
percentage of threatened plants reaches 20 to 40. In order to be considered as
"threatened", a species must have reached the point at which there were fewer
than 10,000 individuals worldwide, or fewer than 100 locations were it could be
found.

Studies show that ‘11 percent of all birds and 25 percent of all known mammals
species are threatened.15 A lot of this is due to agricultural loss (cultivation of land);
tourism industry also has a great impact, especially on small islands such as
Jamaica. Tourism industry that might be damaging plants species locally, is
affecting environment globally. Since plants have been providers of many
pharmaceutical drugs, extinction of certain species could affect medical science.
The loss of endangered plant species would also mean limiting possibilities for
improving agriculture.

Deforestation, as well as coral reef damage can threaten certain plants’ existence.
Very often in some parts of Caribbean, there is not enough information available or
no information at all to assess properly the conservation of plants. According to
research, Jamaica is a sad-record holder in a highest local deforestation speed.
Most of this is due to the fast growing tourism industry and agriculture expansion.
Though, a lot of land is used for agricultural purposes, it’s very rare when the hotel
businesses purchase anything from the local population. They prefer to export
foods because their customers demand familiar menu and the tastes they are used
to. With deterioration of ecosystem, the problems can be very expensive,
economically, to reverse. For example, the near complete wipe out of trees and
forests in the islands means that the floods during hurricanes and storms can be
very damaging and maybe even deadly.

Ecology and Tourism

The destruction of ecology due to the fast expanding tourism industry can be very
costly to the island of Jamaica and its population. The damages caused by the
industry that controls country’s economy are much worse than people
acknowledge. It deprives local community of Jamaica of their natural resources.
They do not get enough water, flora and fauna is damaged by the large amount of
people visiting, pollution is getting worse and the resources are slowly diminishing.
Of course, there are benefits to the industry but at what cost; if you do not start
looking into the problems now and fixing them, they will only get worse with time. If
all of this is sacrificed for the tourism industry, the country has to be getting
something back, something that is worth more not only to private individuals (hotel
owners and operators) but to the people of the island.

Deforestation, as well as coral reef damage can threaten certain plants’ existence.
Very often in some parts of Caribbean, there is not enough information available or
no information at all to assess properly the conservation of plants. According to
research, Jamaica is a sad-record holder in a highest local deforestation speed.
Most of this is due to the fast growing tourism industry and agriculture expansion.
Though, a lot of land is used for agricultural purposes, it’s very rare when the hotel
businesses purchase anything from the local population. They prefer to export
foods because their customers demand familiar menu and the tastes they are used
to. With deterioration of ecosystem, the problems can be very expensive,
economically, to reverse. For example, the near complete wipe out of trees and
forests in the islands means that the floods during hurricanes and storms can be
very damaging and maybe even deadly.

The destruction of ecology due to the fast expanding tourism industry can be very
costly to the island of Jamaica and its population. The damages caused by the
industry that controls country’s economy are much worse than people
acknowledge. It deprives local community of Jamaica of their natural resources.
They do not get enough water, flora and fauna is damaged by the large amount of
people visiting, pollution is getting worse and the resources are slowly diminishing.
Of course, there are benefits to the industry but at what cost; if you do not start
looking into the problems now and fixing them, they will only get worse with time. If
all of this is sacrificed for the tourism industry, the country has to be getting
something back, something that is worth more not only to private individuals (hotel
owners and operators) but to the people of the island.

REFERENCES

Allen, A. H. (1996). Increased Dangers to Caribbean Marine Ecosystems.
BioScience 42(5), 330-335.
Olsen, B. (1997). Environmentally Sustainable Development and Tourism:

Lessons from Negril, Jamaica. Human Organization, 56(3), 285-293.

Thullen, S. A. (1996). Tourism and its Impacts on the Environment. .

Why biodiversity is fast disappearing.
www.oneworld.org/panos/briefing/biodiver.htm

Jamaica: Flora & Fauna.
www.caribbeansuoersite.com/iamaica/fauna.htm

Jamaica Tourism Impacts.
www.american.edu/proiects/mandala/TED/iamtour.htm

Environment: Many Plants in Danger.
www.oneworld.oro/ips2/apr98/2116076.html

   1. Stephanie Thullen," Tourism and its Impacts on the Environment,’ Internet
       (1996)
   2. Internet. "Jamaica: Flora & Fauna’
   3. Internet. "Jamaica Tourism Impacts"
   4. "Internet. "Jamaica Tourism Impacts’
   5. Internet. "Jamaica Tourism Impacts"
   6. Barbara Olsen, Environmentally Sustainable Development and Tourism:
       Lessons form Negril, Jamaica," Human Organization 56.3 (1997): 290.
   7. Olsen 287.
   8. William Mien, "Increased Dangers to Caribbean Marine Ecosystem,"
       Bioscience 42.5 (1996): 330.
   9. Allen 331.
   10. Allen 333.
   11. ibid.
   12. Internet. Why biodiversity is fast disappearing"
   13. Internet. ‘Jamaica: Flora & Fauna"
   14. Internet. "Environment: Many Plants in Danger"
   15. Internet. "Tourism and its Impacts on the Environment".
   16. Internet. Tourism and its Impacts on the Environment"

				
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