Even on a good day, tourism can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, an influx of visitors can provide locals with an important revenue stream, sometimes helping pull war-torn countries out of poverty or providing economic alternatives to illegal trade. However, tourism can yield a dark side, especially when it continues unchecked. Some beautiful places have fallen victim to their own popularity, an unfortunate turn of events often exacerbated by climate change.
Unfortunately, humans themselves often cause the worst kind of environmental destruction — case in point being the 15-year-old Chinese teen who carved his name into a 3,500-year-old temple at Luxor. When you dust off your passport this year, make sure to reconfirm your commitment to sustainable tourism. Really, you don’t want to be that guy (or girl).
10. The Galapagos Islands
One thousand miles off the coast of Ecuador, this remote island showcase is filled with countless examples of wildlife and plants that can’t be found elsewhere. Unfortunately, unprecedented numbers of residents and tourists daily threaten this unique eco-system, so much so that the Ecuadorian government has taken steps to limit the number of tourists. Now visitors are only allowed to stay on the island for limited periods while cruise ships, which carry their own type of pollution, are only allowed to make a limited number of landings.
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J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.