Environmental Issues Inflicted by Tourism in Cancun

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Located on the southeast coast of Mexico, Cancun generated $37.5 million in the past five years citation, welcoming around six million foreign tourists every year (as shown in Graph 1). This is due to Cancun being one of Mexico’s top tourist destinations, known for its exotic aquatic fauna and flora. Sustainable tourism is when social, economic and environment aspects of tourism harmonise to create a place which is authentic, has a good tourist income and is eco-friendly. Cancun follows this to an extent with a strong sense of authenticity and a large tourist income; the issue explored in this case study will be the environmental factors as, although they are gradually improving, there are still many issues which need to be addressed.

The main environmental problems inflicted by tourism in Cancun are water pollution which then has a knock-on effect on the aquatic ecosystem.

The increasing percentage of hotels accommodating tourists is responsible for 95% of the total sewage water as it is incorrectly disposed of citation. This and other concrete areas such as roads and resorts have increased the rainwater run off coastal areas citation. The water waste and spills of petrol, oil and other toxic chemicals from recreational boats and cruises also play a role in the water pollution citation. Wanting to meet demands of food, construction and maintenance of tourist infrastructure, the quality of the water is abused in order for a more effective fulfilment. Fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides used for landscaping, golf course management and agricultural malpractices all have a negative impact on the water quality citation. These problems alone are harmful to the environment, so it is therefore more shocking and harrowing when these tourist impacts take a toll on the aquatic ecosystem which is one of the main reasons that tourists visit Cancun in the first place.

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The arising problems affecting the aquatic ecosystem are that due to the increased levels of toxic chemicals such as petrol (from recreational boats) and detergents and trace elements from the decomposition of tins and bottles, more and more sealife is harmed. A decline in fishing stock has occurred as a result of the intense fishing levels taken to meet tourist demand for seafood. The population of sea turtles is affected by tourism and population growth as sea turtles and their eggs used to be used as a food source, however new problems have stemmed due to the continued construction of hotels and resorts on sensitive turtle nesting areas on the coast citation. Another critical threat to the ecosystem is the explosion of algae growth as its ability to cut oxygen and light from the sea creatures largely affects fish numbers, species composition and growth rates citation. Lastly the physical damage of aquatic vegetation caused by propellers and anchors from recreational boats and cruises also take a toll on the environment citation.

These problems perpetrated by tourism not only take a direct hit towards the environment but also indirectly to future tourists as well as the local people of Cancun. This is because if the environment is affected, then the tourists will not want to visit, and this will be detrimental to the income that tourism brings to Cancun. So, in order to prevent these issues, there must be a collective effort imposed by both the tourists and the locals in order to preserve Cancun’s environment. To prevent further damage to the islands, the Mexican government has decided to limit projects along the coast as well as restricting the construction in areas of conservation citation. Another measure taken is the limiting the number of floors built in hotels and preserving the five-mile area separating the tourist zone from the City of Cancun in the mainland citation. Lastly, they should consider rehabilitation and remodelling tourist facilities with an emphasis on eco-friendliness and sustainability citation.

In conclusion, the critical environmental issues brought upon Cancun through tourism are the water pollution and the negative effects on the aquatic ecosystem due to the more management of water and the as well as the increase number of hotels accommodating tourists with high demands of food, construction and the maintenance of the facilities. In order to preserve its beauty and keep the local economy at a healthy level, there must be a joint effort from tourists and locals to implement eco-friendly and sustainable methods without disrupting the social or economic sectors.

Holbox (a small island off Cancun) is setting a good example of sustainable tourism through making the effort to encourage tourists to avoid using soaps and detergents which may be harmful to the fish in the sea. Holbox has also made it a requirement for tourists diving to wear a chemical-free sun cream in order to not kill off the plankton which is needed for the whales to eat and continue not only the eco-system but also the tourist cycle as people across the globe go to see the whale sharks which live there citation. The mainland of Cancun should make an effort to impose these guidelines upon their tourists too.

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Environmental Issues Inflicted by Tourism in Cancun. (2022, November 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/environmental-issues-inflicted-by-tourism-in-cancun/
“Environmental Issues Inflicted by Tourism in Cancun.” Edubirdie, 25 Nov. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/environmental-issues-inflicted-by-tourism-in-cancun/
Environmental Issues Inflicted by Tourism in Cancun. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/environmental-issues-inflicted-by-tourism-in-cancun/> [Accessed 15 Apr. 2024].
Environmental Issues Inflicted by Tourism in Cancun [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Nov 25 [cited 2024 Apr 15]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/environmental-issues-inflicted-by-tourism-in-cancun/
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