Massive influxes of tourists, often to a relatively small area, have a huge impact. They add to the pollution, waste and water needs of the local population, putting local infrastructure and habitats under enormous pressure. For example, 85% of the 1.8 million people who visit Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are concentrated in two small areas, Cairns and the Whitsunday Islands, which together have a human population of just 130,000 or so.
In many areas, massive new tourist developments have been built – including airports, marinas, resorts and golf courses. Over-development for tourism has the same problems as other coastal developments, but often has a greater impact as the tourist developments are located at or near fragile marine ecosystems. For example:
- mangrove forests and seagrass meadows have been removed to create open beaches;
- tourist developments such as piers and other structures have been built