Environmental effects of mass tourism on tropical destinations

Hawaii is ranked one of the most lovely tropical tourist destinations in the world and reasonably so. Its islands are exceedingly magnificent and they are home to an abundance of native Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures. Who would not want to visit these islands and relieve the pressures of everyday life by bathing in the crystal waters under the silky sun, visit an impressive volcano, enjoy the company of friends, family and even strangers, all to wake up the next morning and repeat it? Nevertheless, this is where the problem lies: six million tourists visit the islands each year, and the environment, especially the native ecosystems, cannot keep up.

The Hawaiian economy itself fares well in keeping up with the constant flow of eager visitors. Hawaii makes over ten billion dollars annually as a result of mass tourism, making it the major source of income for the economy as a whole. It lives off of tourism, but at what cost? The construction of hotels, irresistible restaurants, souvenir shops, and many other tourist attractions, continues to threaten species and ecosystems that are already classified as endangered and heavily contribute to the pollution of waterways and the lack of habitats for native species. Providing limited help are the laws enacted by the Hawaiian state government that attempt to push for positive change.

As of now, one of the few sources of resistance to environmental harm is Hawaii’s state government. It recognized the threats imposed on the environment as a result of mass tourism and established an environmental court in 2014, becoming the second U.S. state to do so. This court deals with criminal and civil cases at the district and circuit levels that regard the environmental laws set in place, such as the illegalization of dumping hazardous materials, water pollution, and solid waste disposal. Despite these efforts, the amount of establishments financed by the government are insufficient without cooperation from the locals. Working hand-in-hand will improve the preservation of Hawaii and its culture.

All in all, the tourist hotspot that is Hawaii suffers from a lack of attention on the topic of environmental degradation, and the measures made by the native people can not compete with the extent of the damage that was made by a prospective visitor. Today, it is up to the people, not just those living in Hawaii, and our voices to determine the fate of these beautiful islands.