Tourism And Environmental Health
The continuous advancement of climate change and its manifestation around the globe has created the need for careful evaluation and maintenance of environmental safety. The impact of destructive activities on the climate continues to manifest as environmental disasters which cause loss of life and property. Rising sea levels and disappearance of the forests has displaced both human and animal life from natural habitats. Tourism is known to worsen environmental health in various ways. These include over consumption of natural resources and production of harmful waste substances that cause pollution. This is particularly marked in areas with an abundance of plant and animal life such that the impact of tourism in these areas destroys the scenery on which the tourism itself depends. Research on the environmental impact of tourism show that:
i. Tourism contributes to over 5% of greenhouse gas emissions. 90% of this can be attributed to transportation. About 60% of air travel alone is attributed to tourism. CO2 emissions caused by tourism are expected to reach 1597 million tonnes in 2030, a 25% increase from the value in 2016.
ii. Overuse of water and application of dangerous chemicals to the land is also of great concern. Tourists in warm regions may use up to 440 liters of water per day, stretching resources that are usually already inadequate for use by locals and animal life in the region. It is said that an average golf course in the tropics may require as much water as 60000 villagers would use per year and up to 1500kg of herbicides, pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
iii. Forests suffer degradation due to land clearing to create space for tourism.
iv. Solid waste disposal is a major concern in areas with a large concentration of tourists. Trekking on mountain trails and remote areas with reduced waste disposal facilities results in environmental pollution.
v. Cruise ships produce large amounts of waste that are disposed of in the oceans and pose a danger to marine life.
Several solutions have been proposed for eliminating these environmental effects of tourism. Attempts have been made by promoting responsible tourism and emphasizing conservation of forests and protection of certain vulnerable areas and local people. To achieve this, the concept of ecotourism has been introduced and encouraged with focus on sustainable methods of transportation, respect for nature, water conservation, recycling and efficient energy systems.
The Role of Artificial Intelligence
Advancement of ecotourism and elimination of harm to the environment can be achieved by the use of AI systems in developing and maintaining sustainable practices.
Some hotels are leading this cause by introducing innovative measures that automate water and energy conservation. Use of smart showers that automatically turn off at a preset time or notify users of excessive water usage and automated lights can help to conserve resources and improve energy efficiency.
ML has been used in studies to predict the behavior of tourists by analyzing responses to questionnaires. The responses to questions regarding education, cultural behavior and other characteristics are combined to determine an individual’s likelihood to respect nature and the environment. This is also expected to drive policy making and introduction of appropriate conservative techniques.
Firms have built robots enabled by AI to interact with their environment that track threats to the surrounding areas. These are able to remove waste and other pollutants and also detect invasive species that could be an early pointer to undesirable changes in the ecosystem.
AI systems can be used to optimize energy production and delivery by assessing for the best methods and routes of distribution. This can also be implemented in transportation systems for determining shorter routes, thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
AI can be used to link the interest of travelers to local conservative efforts when they travel and encourage them to get involved and donate to eco-friendly initiatives.
It has been proposed that use of virtual reality can recreate travel experiences and reduce actual physical trips to these areas, thus reducing the environmental impact of carbon dioxide emission from vehicles.
Predictive analytics can be used to predict tourist behavior and detect areas that may become at risk of congestion in the future. This can be used to control entry of tourists and avoid the potential risks of excessive visitor flow.
Such attempts to prevent environmental degradation will not only sustain nature, but also ensure the maintenance of the industry itself as the very attractions on which it depends are preserved. In addition to this, travelers and tourists will be more likely to patronize destinations that are seen to consider the preservation of surrounding areas as well as plant and animal life. These customers may also be influenced to imbibe eco friendly behaviors in their personal lives. Together, these changes will ensure that the tourism industry becomes one that promotes environmental health.