What are the negative impacts of tourism on India ?

If not well planned and controlled, tourism may generate negative impacts or reduce the feasibility of multiplier effect on local economy. Let us briefly look at some of these.

Loss of Potential Economic Benefits :

Tourism is a capital intensive industry and no local involvement is possible at that level. So the large resources, required for immediate tourist facilities, airport, services roads, bridges, sewage and electricity are brought in either by government or private enterprises. Unexposed villagers suddenly find themselves in large scale external visitations and changes in which they have no say.

Loss of potential economic benefits to the local areas can occur and local resentments are generated if many tourist facilities are owned and managed by outsiders. Also, local elites can be created if tourist facilities and services are owned and managed by only a few local persons or families, with most of the community receiving minimal or no benefits. However, there may be few alternatives to outside ownership during the initial stages of development, if local capital is very limited. Potential foreign exchange earnings are reduced when imported goods and services are utilized in tourism.

Economic and Employment Distortions :

Economic distortions can take place geographically, if tourism is concentrated m only one area or a few areas of a country or region, without corresponding development in other places. Resentment by residents in the under developed areas may ensue from this situation. Even within tourism areas, there may be resentment against persons earning relatively good income in tourism by those who are unemployed or have lower income jobs.

Employment distortions maybe created if tourism attracts employees from other economic sectors such as agriculture and fisheries, because of its higher wages and perhaps more desirable working , conditions, if there is not an overall surplus of workers available. There may be resentment by residents if migrant workers are brought into works in tourism, especially if they stay on after they are no longer needed. It also leads to loss of potential economic benefits. If expatriate managers and technical staff are employed in tourism, at much higher wages than local scale, there may be resentment by local, less skilled workers, in addition to the loss of potential economic benefits.

Considering that the tourism industry is seasonal it inevitably results in underemployment, unemployment and social unrest. Employment in the hotel industry has its own patterns. According to the hotel industry's own calculations every hotel room built at an average estimated cost of Rs. 3.5 lakhs provides direct employment to three persons and indirectly for an additional six only. Even if we take both categories together the cost works out to Rs. 30,000 per job as against an estimated Rs. 12,000 in the small scale sector. The present day growth of tourism therefore transfers a country's resources from weaker sectors of the economy to the tourism sector which also displaces people from their traditional occupations.

As is evident from the pattern in Goa and Orissa, instead of providing a boost to employment, increasing tourism has actually led to a loss of employment. Some recent researches have informed that the percentage of fisheries displaced into urban sources of livelihood in Goa stood at a staggering 75%.

The luxury oriented tourism industry world wide also features control by outsiders and the marginalization of the locals. Since resort tourism demands huge tracts of land for sports, golf-courses, car-parks and gardens, lands are bought by outsiders who can afford to buy sites at high prices. In Goa when the locals were unwilling to sell their land, the government acquired it for tourism development. Another problem here is that in many cases these outsiders are not sensitive to the local ecology, environment and community sentiments.

Inflation and Loss of Amenities for Residents :

Inflation is another direct result of the coming of tourism to an area. Foreign tourists pay for many overvalued goods and services quite gladly since they are cheaper than the same goods in their own countries. In Goa, Alphones mangoes, cashew nuts and certain kinds of fish are out of the reach of the average Goans. The nigh prices radiate citywide and stabilize all over. Similarly if there is over crowding of amenity features, shopping and community facilities and congestions of transportation systems by tourists, residents cannot conveniently use them and will become resentful of tourism. Hill stations like Shimla and Nainital are examples of this kind. Prices shoot up during the tourist season overcrowding of parking place and water shortage is also there.

If local features such as beaches are closed off to the local population and maintained for the exclusive use of tourists, residents lose access to their own amenities and can become hostile towards tourism. This situation aggrevates if physical barriers, such as fences are imposed between residents and tourists. Similarly, like electricity, roads and water supply, the infrastructure is tailored to the requirements of foreigners and local elites and escapes the common people entirely. For example, while daily flights bring tourists to Khajuraho, the villagers walk a long distance to get their wood or water. The tourists have all the facilities in the luxurious hotels whereas the villagers don't have water supply and electricity.

In Goa the water level has fallen far below the reach of the village wells since the deep wells of the hotels keep pumping up water for their pools and lush green lawns. Along with that the hotels are ensured 24 hours water supply and water in tanks. A 50% concession has been given for the hotels' water and electricity bills. Accute shortage of water means rationing for all tourist cities be it Panjim or Ooty but not for these hotels. Besides large hotels prevent smaller establishments by locals to come up near their projects. In one case at least, a hotel has prevented electrification of an area to keep out competition. It is in this.sense that instead of incurring facilities and amenities, tourism can also sometimes prevent the growth of such facilities.

Fluctuations in Productivity Index :

Tourism is seasonal and depends on climatic changes, international and domestic political situations, and general world economy. Therefore, the productivity index of the industry as a whole is reduced during the off season particularly to the investors, and in general to the national economy.

The products of tourism are 'perishable' services, which can not be saved for future sale. If there is no tourist for a room, it goes 'waste' for that day. The activities of many subsidiary industries which supply the needs of tourism, fishing for instance, will have to be reduced.

The after effects of the epedemic in Surat or the rise of militancy in certain regions could be seen on the tourism industry all over India. One can understand the plight of those who provide subsidiary services or whose earnings are linked with tourism. The worst hit in such situations are the poor.

Cultural Impact :

Over commercialization and loss of authencity of traditional arts and crafts, customs and ceremonies can result if these are over modified to suit tourist demands. For example important traditional dance and work performances, some of which may have religious significance, being greatly shortened and changed to fit tourists' tastes and schedules. Similarly, traditional high quality handicrafts are being mass produced to provide tourist souveniors. This situation often results from the insensitivity or lack of understanding on the part of the 'cultural brokers' for tour operators or handicraft organisers, whether foreign or local, who are not concerned about cultural purity or authenticity.

In extreme cases, there may be a loss of cultural character, self respect, and overall social identity because of submergence of the local society by the outside cultural patterns of seemingly more affluent and successful tourists. Deterioration of cultural monuments and loss of cultural antepets may result from uncontrolled use and misuse by tourists.


The various types of negative or undesirable environmental impacts are generated by tourism as beneficiaries try to exploit the nature without investing in its conservation. Not all these negative impacts are likely to take place in one area because of the types of impact often depend on the kind of tourism developed and the specific environmental characteristics of the tourism area. The scale of tourism development in relation to the carrying capacity of the environment greatly influences the extent of environmental impacts.

Water Pollution :

If a proper sewage disposal system has not been installed for hotels, resorts and other tourist facilities, there may be pollution of ground water from the sewage, or if a sewage outfall has been construded into a nearby river, lake or coastal sea water and the sewage has not been adequately treated, the effluent will pollute that water area. This situation is common in beach resort areas where the hotels construct an outfall into the adjacent water area which can also be used for swimming by tourists or for fishing by locals. Recreational and tourist transportation motor boats in surface water result in pollution in river, lakes and sea water due to spilling oil and gas and cleaning their bilge in water. This is usually common in enclosed harbor and places where natural water circulation is slow.

Air Pollution :

Tourism is generally considered a "smokeless industry." But it can also result in air pollution by tourist vehicles in a particular area, especially at major attraction sites, that are accessible only by road. This is due to improperly maintained exhaust systems of the vehicles. Also, pollution in the form of dust and dirt in the air may be generated from open, devegetated area if the tourism development is not properly planned, developed and landscaped or is in an interim state of construction.

Noise Pollution :

Noise generated by a concentration of tourists road and certain types of tourist attractions such as amusement parks or car/motorcycle race tracks may reach uncomfortable and irritating levels for nearby residents and other tourists. Such loud noise can often result in ear damage and also a psychological stress.

Visual Pollution :

It may result from several sources. These can be due to poorly- designed hotels and other facility buildings which are not compatible with local architectural style or not well integrated into the natural environment. Other reasons can be poor maintenance of buildings and landscaping obstruction of scenic views by development use of large and ugly advertising signs. Littering of landscape also results in visual pollution.

Waste Disposal Problems :

The most common problem in tourism areas is the littering of debris on the landscape. This is due to large number of people using the area of picnicking. Improper disposal of solid waste from hotel restaurants, and resorts generate both litter and environmental health problems from vermin, disease and pollution. It can also lead to the degradation of tourist sites.