3 | Countering the Effects of Mass Tourism on the Coastal Environment

Beach clean-up

Efforts to reduce the damage done by mass tourism include initiatives to clean up the environment, as well as legal agreements and planning restrictions, at local, regional, national and international levels.


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Some Responses

Hover over or touch each image to get more information.

Community beach clean-up

Community Beach Clean-Ups

Responsible tourism

Guidelines for Responsible Tourism

Waste water treatment

Improved Waste Water Treatment

Recycling bins on beach

Recycling Facilities

Beach dune management

Beach Nourishment

Coastal erosion barrier

Beach Erosion Barriers


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What are the Dynamics?

Causal loop diagram: tourism and environmental quality
  • Some responses reduce the damage caused by tourism - for example, by reducing litter or preventing polluted water from entering the sea.
  • Some responses enhance the regeneration of the coastal environment - for example, by building sand dunes to protect beaches.

Both types of response are designed to increase Environmental Quality.

But how effective are they?
Are they enough on their own to counter the effects of huge numbers of tourists?

Answering these questions requires a deeper look at the whole system.

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Systems Concepts

What is a System?

A system is an entity with interrelated and interdependent parts. Changing one part of the system affects other parts and the whole system.

What is Systems Thinking?

Systems thinking is a disciplined approach for examining problems more completely and accurately before acting.

A System's Structure Determines Its Behaviour

The causal connections between parts of a system form feedback loops that determine its dynamic structure and from that, its behaviour.

Leverage Points

To address the root causes of a problem requires identifying 'leverage points'. These are places in a system where a small shift in one thing can produce big, desirable changes in the system as a whole.

On the next page, we'll take a closer look at the dynamics of a particular type of coastal resort to explore some of these concepts.

Ocean Literacy Concepts

The Human-Ocean System

The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected [Ocean Literacy Principle 6]. Humans have a complex relationship with the ocean. We rely on the ocean for many vital things such as water, oxygen, food and weather, yet we often act in ways that harm the ocean.

We Live in Coastal Areas

Much of the world's population lives in coastal areas. [Ocean Literacy Principle 6f].

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Question 5:
Which of the following boost the regeneration rate (by helping the environment to renew itself)?

Check all that apply:

Community beach clean-ups
Responsible tourism
Improved waste water treatment
Recycling facilities on beaches
Beach nourishment
Beach erosion barriers

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Question 6:
Which of the following decrease the degeneration rate (by reducing the damage done by tourism)?

Check all that apply:

Community beach clean-ups
Responsible tourism
Improved waste water treatment
Recycling facilities on beaches
Beach nourishment
Beach erosion barriers

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