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Endangered tourist destinations around the World

Do you feel like getting lost in the backstreets of Venice, snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef or skiing in the Alps? If so, don’t hang around – tourist hordes have put these much-loved sites and many others at risk.


These places have existed for hundreds of years, so surely they’ll be there for hundreds more?  Not necessarily: from tidal erosion and water pollution to excessive energy use, tourism has damaged some of the most “enduring” and popular holiday places. Holiday Lettings rounds up the iconic destinations in danger of being loved to death.



We heart: Venice


This Canaletto-induced clichÉ never fails to work its Casanovaesque charms.  From eighteenth-century Grand Tourists to twenty-first century mini-breakers, we all lose our hearts to this beautiful, floating cityscape. Who could forget watching the sun rise over the lagoon, or indeed, being serenaded by a stripy-shirted gondolier?  


Venice has, though, rapidly become one of the world’s most important cruise destinations: one in three of all cruises stop-off here. In fact, 650 cruises and 1.8 million passengers now pass through every year. This alone generates 30% of the city’s air pollution, as well as tides that erode building foundations and pollute waterways.   


The Alps


We heart: The Alps


Frankenstein, Heidi and The Sound of Music – three classics, one immortal landscape. The Alps have long been celebrated in works of art, literature and cinema. (Sing-alongs are entirely optional, though we think trying the fondue should be compulsory.)    


Tourists have, though, had an impact on even these mountains. Due to global warming, Mont Blanc has already shrunk over 45 centimetres, and the region’s annual snowfall has declined.


Ironically, many local ski resorts have had to create fake snow for skiers, increasing their energy use and so further contributing to the problem.


Reef 7


Reef 6 

We heart:  The Great Barrier Reef


2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands that stretch over 1400 miles: this is the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms, and the only living thing on earth visible from space - but for how much longer?


Sunscreen may protect travelers, but it’s threatening this natural wonder. The chemicals, such as paraben, in many popular sunscreens cause viruses in algae which live within the coral reef. The viruses multiply until the algae bursts, contaminating the ocean and infecting local coral communities. Without the algae, coral whitens and dies.


Machu Picchu


We heart: Machu Picchu, Amazon Rainforest


Since explorer Hiram Bingham uncovered it in 1911, we've felt the mystical, cosmic draw of this 550-year old citadel in the subtropical forest setting. It’s a mysterious, sacred site – now complete with a helicopter landing zone.


Have the 5,000 clambering tourists who visit every day damaged this site more than the Spanish Conquistadores? A 112-kilometer railway line from San Pedro in Cusco to the highest point of the Picchu mountain, El Arco, certainly allows easy access, but damages the local environment.




We heart: Taj Mahal


This is at once the epitome of Mughal art, a global architectural icon and a timeless memorial to love. The legendary white marble catches pink at dawn, picks up a fiery glow as the sun sets and sparkles silver in moonlight. Who could fail to be touched by this tribute from an Emperor to his wife?


Yet stilettos are doing what 350 years of wars, invasions and natural disasters have failed to do and have begun to damage the monument: marble and sandstone are eroding in many places. Excessive footfall, particularly from high heels, makes the sandstone flake. This results in depression, leading to water accumulation and chipping. It also makes marble slippery.  


(written by Felicity Howlett of


Images (6)
  • Machu Picchu
  • Reef 6
  • Reef 7
  • Taj Mahal
  • The Alps
  • Venice

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Comments (3)

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Without the tourist would many of these places survive?

Without the billions of euros spent on Venice to keep the water out would it still be walkable ?

Would the Taj Mahal still be showing the scars of conflict if people didn't visit and contribute to its hunger for refurbishment ?

Or maybe leave it to fall into ruin like the pyramids.

Which do we remove?

The tourists or the high heels ?


I agree that these destinations are famous and must-sees for every tourist, but all of us have an obligation to not destory these beautiful corners of the World. Like for Venice, as mentioned in the article that so many Cruises pass through here (stops) each year, so they must have dig-up the area and hence the water level keeps rising?! If we don't take care, our future generations wouldn't be able to see these historic places.

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