Footpath Erosion Case Study

The positive and negative impacts of tourism

Making tourism sustainable

The positive and negative impacts of tourism

National parks have to conserve the landscape and wildlife, let people visit and enjoy the area and help support local people.

See national park aims

These different aims can sometimes conflict, and tourism is one of the biggest challenges in national parks, as tourists have both positive and negative impacts on the landscape and local communities:

Positive impacts of tourism:

  • Jobs for local people
  • Income for the local economy
  • Helps preserve rural services like buses, village shops and post offices
  • Increased demand for local food and crafts
  • Tourists mainly come to see the scenery and wildlife, so there is pressure to conserve habitats and wildlife

Negative impacts of tourism:

  • Damage to the landscape: litter, erosion, fires, disturbance to livestock, vandalism
  • Traffic congestion and pollution
  • Local goods can become expensive because tourists will pay more
  • Shops stock products for tourists and not everyday goods needed by locals
  • Demand for holiday homes makes housing too expensive for local people
  • Demand for development of more shops and hotels
  • Jobs are mainly seasonal, low paid with long hours

Case Study: Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park

Litter and fire site left by irresponsible visitors ©LLTNPA

Ranger Alison Wilkie talks about tourism in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and what the national park authority has done to help reduce the problems.

What are the main conflicts in Loch Lomond?

Link to audio

What solutions have you come up with?
How successful are these campaigns?

Link to audio

Making tourism sustainable

Oriel y Parc Visitor Centre has grass on its roof and wool to insulate the walls.

National park authorities work with local communities and other organisations to try and make tourism more sustainable. Here are just some of the things we do:

  • Show visitors how they can be responsible tourists with events, leaflets, information centres, guided walks and events, signs and websites.
  • Encourage visitors to leave their cars behind and use greener travel, like bikes, buses, boats and trains.
  • Support outdoor activities that don't damage the countryside or harm wildlife.
  • Encourage visitors to buy local products and food.
  • Run green business schemes to encourage businesses to recycle, reduce energy, conserve water and be sustainable.
  • Ask local communities for their views and ideas by setting up forums, groups and consultations.
  • Reduce erosion caused by visitors, by creating and repairing footpaths.
  • Use planning policies to control the spread of buildings in built-up areas development.
  • Encourage green energy-efficient buildings with planning policies and grant funding.
  • Encourage small-scale renewable energy schemes, like woodchip boilers and solar panels, with planning policies and grant funding.

More case studies and factsheets

Tourism and visitor management in National Parks

Erosion caused by walkers in the Lake District, before Fix the Fells repair work

Erosion in National Parks:

Sustainable tourism and transport in National Parks:

Visitors are attracted to glacial areas by the scenery and to participate in outdoor pursuits. As a result there is a demand for more visitor facilities such as hotels and leisure complexes, car parks, marinas and cable cars.

Case study: conservation and management in the Lake District

Many of the impacts of tourism are positive, but others present challenges which need to be overcome if tourism in the Lake District is to be sustainable [sustainable: Doing something in a way that minimises damage to the environment and avoids using up natural resources, eg by using renewable resources. ].

Advantages of tourism

Ambleside in the Lake District

  • Tourism provides employment and income for local people.
  • People choose to stay in the area, which maintains other essential services such as schools and hospitals.
  • Services provided for the use of tourists, eg leisure facilities, also benefit local people.


Water skiing on Windermere

  • Employment can be seasonal and wages low.
  • House prices in the area can rise due to a demand for second homes.
  • School leavers often look for work in larger settlements due to low wages and high house prices. This causes rural depopulation.
  • Local shops on the margins of profitability often close to make way for more profitable gift shops and tea rooms. This leaves local people without essential services, eg butchers and greengrocers.
  • Traffic causes pollution and narrow roads can become congested in high season.
  • Large numbers of hikers cause footpath erosion, which is expensive to repair.
  • Watersports cause erosion of lake shores and there can be conflicts of interests between different lake users.

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