Tourism is both a blessing and a curse. While a healthy amount can boost the economy, too much of it can be harmful to the environment and uproot local populations. Before you book your next trip, consider how your wanderlust is affecting some of the most beautiful places in the world.
Caño Cristales, Colombia
With “the river of five colors,” also known as “the melted rainbow,” waters that are a hallucinogenic concoction of pink, red, green, and blue colors (a result of the unique microorganisms living in it) and its jaw-dropping waterfalls, Caño Cristales is now overwhelmingly popular. And, it’s only become more so after a 2016 peace agreement was signed between the government of Colombia and the country’s largest rebel group. The uptick in foot traffic is cause for concern, as it could jeopardize the area’s extremely fragile ecosystem. In 2017, access was restricted to give the river a break. “We decided to implement the restriction because human presence can harm the plants’ reproduction processes,” Faber Ramos, coordinator of the ecotourism program, told the BBC. Check out 14 more of the most naturally colorful places in the world.
Maya Beach, Thailand
The cult classic Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach turned this remote beach in Thailand into a major tourist trap. It’s not hard to see why! The secluded cove features glittering, translucent water, white sands, and limestone cliffs. Then as more and more tourists flocked to the sandy shores, Maya Beach became impossible to enjoy; visitors could hardly walk, never mind lie down, here. Thailand was forced to close the beach for months in 2018. Though the closure was only supposed to be temporary, it’s now shut down indefinitely. While some “must-sees” are over-hyped, these 13 iconic sights ahead are worth braving the crowds (at least once), we promise.
The beautiful island of Boracay once was revered for its exclusivity, but in recent years, mass-market tourism and lack of infrastructure have led to a major downfall. The island underwent a six-month closure to visitors in 2018 to allow authorities to restore it, reports the Telegraph. It reopened in October with strict new rules: masseuses, vendors, bonfires, watersports (save for swimming) and the builders of Boracay’s infamous sandcastles are now banned. Also under the new rules, a maximum of 19,200 tourists are allowed on the island at any one time. Many hotels and restaurants have been shut down for not meeting standards, and a mere 160 tourism-related businesses have been approved to re-open.