Any travel organization which takes pride in what it does, will aim to minimize the negative impact their business could have on the local area. Many of the world's natural wonders are now in desperate need of conservation due to previous ignorance of the damage tourism can cause. For example, the Great Barrier Reef has over 2 million visitors a year. Just some of the negative impacts in the past have included:
Many World Heritage sites are having to restrict the number of visitors they get. 2011 is the 100th anniversary of Hiram Bingham's "discovery" of Machu Picchu. Once hidden, this archaeological wonder now receives around 3,000 visitors a day and brings in a reputed $40 million a year for the Peruvian government. But at what cost to the ruins and the Inca Trail themselves? Geologists claim the ruins could slip down the mountain due to erosion caused by the huge number of people visiting it, a few years ago the trail to get there was nicknamed the 'toilet paper trail'. Management of the site has improved, but the rising cost for this has impeded entry for many local people. Shockingly there are still porters who have provided a first class service to tourists, but haven't visited the actual ruins themselves.
However, it is not just up to the organizations to minimize any negative impact. Tourists should be aware of their own responsibilities. Not leaving litter behind may seem fundamental to most people, but there are still people who do this. Make sure it isn't you. Recycling isn't often an option when you're abroad, so leave plastic packaging at home and carry as much recycling as you can back home.
With the greenhouse effect becoming more powerful we all have to be aware of our own contributions. Carbon footprints have been established to give you the opportunity to take responsibility for the damage your flight will cause to the environment. Will you be doing anything to offset the carbon emissions from your flight?