When I travel, I try to make small gestures that wouldn’t overwhelm nature too much. One small ‘’green deed’’ is for example using the same water bottle if possible and filling it up whenever you can. In Thailand, you can’t drink tap water, but most stores will have refilling spots. I’d like to talk about preserving nature and tourism spots and use Thailand as example, since I have the most experience from there.
I think that visiting popular destinations should be restricted somehow. There should be fees to enter different places – the fees would be used for preserving the nature i.e. payment for the people taking care of the area. For example, to enter an island called Koh Lanta in Thailand, you will have to pay 20 baht to get in. 20 baht doesn’t even equal to 1 euro, and I think it should be more than that. For a tourist, paying 100 baht (around 2,5 euros) wouldn’t be too much. They use the money to clean the beaches and areas around the island. Also, in the National Park of Khao Sok, you must pay 300 baht (around 8 euros) to enter. The money goes to preservation of the area. I think more places should do this.
The popular Maya Beach in Thailand was closed because the different tour operators were just after the money, and they took thousands and thousands of tourists a day to a beach that is only 250 meters long. It is no surprise the nature there got very damaged. The multiple speedboats a day didn’t help the corals and other life in the proximity of the beach. According to statistics, the Maya Beach was visited by 1,2 billion tourists between October of 2015 and May of 2016. That is an insane amount of people for just 6-7 months.
Thailand closed the beach and the whole Koh Phi Phi Le’s island from tourists in 2018. It has only been a few years, and the sharks that used to live in the area close to the beach have returned. I think it’s amazing how nature heals so fast when humans aren’t there to disrupt it.
I think that popular destinations should have maximum capacities per day, so the areas wouldn’t get too overwhelmed. I would be happy to wait for my turn or pay a fee to get to somewhere if it meant that nature would be preserved. The destinations could also have some kind of a reservation system, where you can book a day and a time to visit. This way the tour operators can keep up well with how many people have visited and travelers can confirm their visit to the location. Waiting some time or paying a little fee shouldn’t hurt. Would it hurt you?
Text: Viveca Antila, second year student in the degree programme in Tourism