Unmasking Hidden Waste of Tourism

The worldwide tourism business has grown exponentially, with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) estimating an astounding £1.1 trillion in revenue from international tourism in 2019. However, a less glamorous fact emerges beneath the charm of picturesque destinations and cultural immersion – tourism’s environmental cost.

In accordance with UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), tourists contribute 1.3 billion tonnes of rubbish each year, accounting for four to eight per cent of global waste. This discovery reveals the less glamorous side of travel: its significant impact on the planet’s trash burden.

Balancing tourism and preservation in cities with UNESCO World Heritage monuments is more complicated. According to UNEP, European tourists generate approximately 1 kg of garbage per person daily, whereas Americans generate up to 2 kg. Managing this garbage is particularly difficult in historically and culturally significant areas.

Though formally closed in 2019, the UrBAN-WASTE network continues to promote sustainable waste management in tourism, inspiring similar programmes worldwide. Advocating sustainable tourist practices and decreasing the environmental footprint of this crucial industry.

Tourism’s tremendous rise is obvious, with global travel arrivals increasing from 177 million in 1980 to 1.5 billion in 2019. However, this increase contributes to the global plastic pollution crisis, particularly in coastal areas.

Coastal locations, which attract eight out of ten tourists, see millions of visitors yearly, adding to the 8 million tonnes of plastic that enter our oceans each year. However, the issue is not restricted to oceanic pollution. Many hotels give out single-use plastic products like shampoos, toothbrushes, and combs, while cruise ships dump enormous amounts of microplastic-laden wastewater into the sea.

Recognising the gravity of the situation, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) issued a joint report in 2021, emphasising the urgent need for coordinated actions, policies, and infrastructure to steer the tourism industry towards circularity and sustainability.

As we celebrate World Tourism Day, it is critical that we take steps to reduce the heavy environmental burden associated with tourism. It is not just a responsibility but an absolute necessity for a sustainable future.


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    Team Evoscien

    We are a team of eco-conscious writers dedicated to exploring the latest innovations in sustainability and eco-friendliness. Through our passion for creating a better future for our planet, we aim to share informative and inspiring content that encourages more sustainable lifestyles and promotes eco-friendly practices.

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