World Tourism Day

Young tourists taking a selfie in New York

It's World Tourism Day on 27 September. Visiting new places can be great, but there's a bad side to tourism too. Read this article to find out more.

Instructions

Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises to check your understanding.

Do you like travelling to other places, cities and countries? Many people do. Tourism is a huge industry – it's as large as or larger than the oil, food and car industries. It creates so many jobs that one in every ten people in the world works in tourism.

However, for many people and places, tourism is not a completely positive thing.

What problems can tourism create?

Some places receive millions of tourists a year, which creates problems for local people. When tour buses block roads, it's hard for local people to get to work or school. Often, international companies open up, and small shops and restaurants close down. Another problem is accommodation – in Barcelona and New York, for example, many flats and houses are used as tourist accommodation, so homes for local people have become expensive and hard to find.

Tourism can be bad for the environment too. Natural areas are destroyed to make space to build hotels and tourist facilities, and building them consumes a lot of energy and resources. Historic buildings are damaged, such as those in Venice by large cruise ships entering the city. These ships also harm animal and plant life. More tourism means more crowds, noise, rubbish and pollution.

What is World Tourism Day?

The United Nations World Tourism Day is a day for thinking about tourism and its effects on people and places. It is celebrated every year on 27 September. On this day, people meet to discuss tourism and try to solve the problems that tourism creates. The meetings are organised by a different country or group of countries every year.

What can we do to make tourism less harmful?

Some governments have already taken action. In Barcelona and New York, there are now limits on short-term rental accommodation. The number of cruise ships entering Venice is limited now too.

Importantly, individual tourists can help by choosing more sustainable ways of visiting places. For example, if tourists visit Venice on a cruise ship but they sleep and eat all their meals on the ship, does the local community in Venice really benefit from their visit? If not, it could be better to choose a different form of tourism, one that benefits the city and local people more.

We also need to reduce pollution and climate change. Is it necessary to fly to your destination or can you take a train instead?

If we can make tourism more sustainable, everyone can benefit, and people can continue to enjoy visiting these places in the future.

Discussion

Which places do you like to visit? Have you noticed any positive or negative effects of tourism where you live?

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