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Places that are being destroyed by tourism
Posted on 31/05/2017


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Tourism can make or break a region, and we do literally mean break. From vandalized historical sites and overcrowded medieval streets to pollution and a sinking city here are 10 sites that are being damaged by tourism.

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  • Venice - Italy
    Venice - Italy

    With its gorgeous architecture, incredible museums, narrow streets seeped in history and myriad of canals Venice has been a mainstay on every single travel bucket list. While the historic city center has a population of only 55,000 every day the city gets a minimum of 50,000 foreign visitors. This constant influx of tourists means that overcrowding is a huge problem with visitors often unable to access key sites. The high numbers of cruise ships, which dock in the Venetian Lagoon, pose a threat to the city's fragile canals and changing climate is directly responsible for the city's literal sinking.

  • The Colosseum - Rome
    The Colosseum - Rome

    The Colosseum is perhaps one the most recognizable structures not only in the Italian capital, but also in the rest of the world. Built nearly two thousand years ago, the Colosseum attracts thousands of tourists each day. However with the huge numbers of visitors came the inevitable blight of vandalism, with visitors being accused of littering, carving their initials in the walls as well as chipping off pieces of the structure to take as souvenirs. The situation got so bad that the Roman authorities had to introduce finds of thousands of euros for anyone caught damaging the historic sight.

  • The Great Wall of China - China
    The Great Wall of China - China

    While claims that the Great Wall of China can be seen from the moon have been debunked numerous times, whether or not it can be seen from Earth's lower orbit is still being debated - all this is to say that The Great Wall of China is one of the largest manmade structures on the planet. As of China's and the entire world's most well-known UNESCO Heritage Sites the Great Wall attracts thousands of tourists each day. The overcrowding, which results from the high number of visitors, is proving very costly, with the wall not being built to withstand such heavy foot traffic. Visitors have also been known to vandalize the architectural marvel, both with graffiti and by taking parts of it as souvenirs.

  • The Great Barrier Reef - Australia
    The Great Barrier Reef - Australia

    The Great Barrier Reef is undoubtedly one of Australia's most well-known attractions, and why wouldn't it be? The Great Barrier Reef is made up of some 2,900 separate reefs and stretches for an impressive 2,300 kilometers, is the single largest structure made by living organisms and unlike the Great Wall of China it can definitely be seen from space. The reef's frankly awe-inspiring biodiversity has attracted divers and snorkelers from far and wide. However scientists are concerned that the high number of visitors to the area, coupled with rising levels of pollution and temperature, are damaging the reef's fragile ecosystem.

  • Mont Saint-Michel - France
    Mont Saint-Michel - France

    This French island commune is quite simply put otherworldly - so much so that it has acted as the inspiration behind the design of multiple castles in cinema. The island which is topped by an 8th century abbey is located about one kilometer off the coast of Normandy and is only accessible on foot during low tide. While Mont Saint-Michel has a population of only 44 people every day it receives hundreds if not thousands of tourists. The crowds were once described as literally walking shoulder to shoulder taking up the entire width of the street.


There is no denying that tourism can bring financial stability if not even prosperity to a struggling region. Iceland is just one example of the positive effects of tourism on the economy, having been brought back from the brink of a devastating financial crisis thanks to a boom in tourism to the region; however as with all good things there is always a flip side. The Butler Model (named after Professor Richard W Butler) is commonly used to show the growth of a tourist destination: the destination is discovered, its popularity grows exponentially until it reaches peak success. Unfortunately, for most places, what follows next is a turn downhill.

Tourism oversaturation - side effect of the extreme popularity of certain places - is a perfect example of why it's bad to have too much of a good thing. Cities and beaches become overcrowded, large chain hotels push out local owners, pollution ruins local ecosystems, and most ironic of all the beautiful sites that attracted visitors in the first place are damaged by those same visitors. With all of this in mind here is a list of ten places that have experienced the negative effects of tourism.

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