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Vandalism by Tourists and Impact on Ecology

Essay by   •  April 2, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  3,022 Words (13 Pages)  •  1,492 Views

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Does tourism really preserve our environment, or are many of us accidentally destroying what we profess to protect. With its various ramifications to the environment and socio-cultural biodiversity, it is viably sustainable.

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), in 2010, international tourist arrivals were at 940 million, an increase of 6.6 percent as compared to 2009. In 2010, world tourism recovered strongly than expected from the shock it suffered in the late 2008 and 2009, as a result of the global financial crisis and economic recession. International tourism receipts are estimated to have reached US$919 billion worldwide, an increase of 4.7 percent from US$851 billion in 2009. And in 2011, international tourist arrivals grew by 5 percent during the first few months and it is forecasted that these numbers are projected to grow by 4 to 5 percent. This is a clear indication that the speed of which tourism is growing is outstanding.

As the common saying goes; "leave nothing but footprints" and bring with you memories that last, with such a fast growing industry, it is more than just footprints that these tourists will leave. The essence of travelling is to gain new experiences as well as for recreation. Host countries may reap the benefits of tourism, however underneath all that glamour, lies the damage that's done. More often than not, these negative impacts are usually not addressed fully. Is it fair that these tourists basked in their recreational enjoyment in the expense of the environment?

This essay will illustrate how such acts and behaviours more particularly; acts of vandalism by tourists will impact ecology. Most of us understand vandalism as drawings on wall, to painting of graffiti on boulders such as those at the Stonehenge and mere carvings, or making marks on trees along nature trails, but vandalism acts do include physical influences that can cause social stress such as littering and hunting of wildlife and fishing, which as a result would deplete the locals of their source of nourishment. These acts may be aesthetically pleasing to some, while others just deny the locals the use or enjoyment of the environment.

Such acts and behaviour are frowned upon in almost all tourists destination, yet it still persists to exist. Thus the fundamentals behind these acts will be examined; hence we can have a better understanding why these acts are committed. There after these acts are then related to the ecological aspect. It is then necessary to learn the about the associated impacts from tourism which will be further illustrated in the case studies below. To conclude, we will look into what are the current practices to eliminate, if not alleviate the impacts of vandalism by tourists to ecology.


Prof. Ed Krumpe (1995) defined vandalism as the deliberate, wanton, malicious destruction of property for the sheer pleasure of destruction or striking out against the establishment, in addition vandalism is part of the behavioural norms and discovered eight kinds of vandalism.

One of the most frequent is when there are outdated or undersized facilities, coupled with lack of maintenance, increase in usage for recreation or changes in usage patterns. This is termed as Over-use Vandalism.

When someone disregards rules that stand in their way of how they want to use something, for example walking on shrubs or grass as a shortcut when a pathway is provided. This is termed as Conflict Vandalism.

Ever wondered how those words are fastened to the wall, what are the contents of a locked cabinet, or what will happen if you pull this lever? The urge to satisfy and the accompanying act are termed as Curiosity Vandalism.

Using a stick to pry open a locked cabinet or to fit a tennis racket into a hole to make it bigger. This sense of competence creates leverage and hence termed Leverage Vandalism.

The itch to remove a loose moulding from a sculpture, using a marker to write on walls or to simply leave your mark on trees, all constitutes to the Irresistible Temptation Vandalism.

Littering when there are no garbage cans in sight, leaning a bike on shrubs when there are no bicycle racks around, or simply leaning on a fence when there are no benches around, these acts seems to have no alternatives to them are termed as "No-other-way-to-do-it" Vandalism.

An unkempt area creates an impression towards people who view them, for example how kids are inherently responsive to an already unkempt area and that senior citizens lack the respect for an ugly or unkempt environment. This disrespect for the environment due to its current unkempt condition can cause people to further contribute to the already ugly area or simply be ignorant about it and it is termed as Ugliness Vandalism.

The destruction of something for the sheer wanton joy and striking out against an establishment such as using spray paints outside school fences, or destroying of a park bench are all part of Malicious Vandalism.

Having understood the different kinds of vandalism, let's look at how this is could be applied to the context of ecology. Ecology focuses on the interrelations between organisms and the environment and the higher levels of the organisations of life on Earth. Aysel Yavuz and Nilgun Kuloglu (2010) explained that a typical tourist destination is itself a living organism, together with resident wildlife, local communities and other physical elements co-existing together in the context of tourism. Thus a deliberate malicious act to the environment can cause repercussions to its surroundings. This includes the environment and socio-cultural as well.


Azman Ahmad (1999) concluded in his study that even though the local community find tourists and their activities in the park to be beneficial for the households and their community in terms of livelihood and enhanced social opportunities, there are still some ecotourism developments directing towards a decline in condition, or a loss to the local community.

The most significant as cited by the locals, is the way litter is disposed of. It has been observed that though garbage bins are provided at certain points around the park, they are however deemed inadequate. In some instances, some garbage bins are overflowing with garbage; these include aluminium cans, plastic bottles and food wrappings. Despite signs indicating to keep the park clean, it is deemed ineffective in deterring tourists from throwing litter indiscriminately. This increasing usage and lack of maintenance of the garbage bins



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