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PHENOMENA OF ADVENTURE TOURISM AND ITS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS

What it the adventure tourism? Adventure tourism is the fastest growing niche sectors within one of the world‟s biggest industries, which tourism used to be called. According to Swarbrooke et al. (2003) accounted for 14% with around 60 millions international trips taken in 2000. Although, despite the enthusiastic welcome for this new market from both customers and industry, there is a difficulty to firmly define „the Adventure Tourism‟. The problem derives from either the complexity of this sector or its bias nature. Simply, this same tour can be taken in a different way by different people. Buckley (2006) describes it as a commercial guided tour where the principal attraction is an outdoor activity, which depends

What can we do on the adventure holidays? As it previously said the list of activities underpinned to adventure or, also called active tourism is probably endless. As Buckley (2003) says a typical example, would be a multi-day whitewater rafting tour, where the tour operator provides all the equipment, the skills are not required and the principal attraction is running rapids rather than riverside scenery. But it is not only activity waiting for customers under the adventure tourism umbrella. There are camping, hiking, climbing, sea and whitewater kayaking, skiing, heliskiing, snowboarding, caving, skydiving, mountain biking, diving, surfing, offroad driving, horse riding, power-boating and many, many more. Nonphysical markets like gambling or sex tourism are also considered as a part of adventure tourism.

on natural terrain features, generally requires specialized equipment, and it is exiting for the tourists. But, on the other hand Swarbrooke et al. (2003) admits that this phenomena can be describe as anything from a walk in the country side to a flight in space. However, even if the definition and the boundaries of adventure tourism are not well agreed, its main activities are.

Referencing list: Buckley, R. (2003), Case Studies in Ecotourism, CABI, Cambridge. Buckley, R. (2004), Environmental impacts of ecotourism, CABI, Cambridge.


Adventure tourism and environmental issues Adventure tours, like all forms of tourism have economic, social and environmental impacts on destinations. This paper focuses on their impacts on the environment and what the industry is doing to manage those impacts.

The most common problems seen around the world are:  The coral reefs damaged by divers  Deforestation caused by development of ski slopes  Higher level of avalanches in the areas of practising the off-piste skiing or heliskiing  Noise, air pollution make by motorized vehicles (offroad driving, power-boating, heliskiing)  Impacts of camping and hiking on soil erosion and vegetation

Swarbrooke et al. (2003) argued that the adventure tourism may also have positive impacts on the environment, with its contribution economic to environmental conservation. The adventure tourists, however, were following their desire to stay away from other tourists often getting into a direct contact with the wilderness and causing negative impacts on natural environment. The impacts tend to be more visible in the rural and wilderness areas than they are in the less fragile urban zones.

Scuba diving Buckley (2006) and Davis and Tisdell (1996) concede the diving is a major activity within the adventure tourism family. The quick development of the sites and diving facilities has a serious impact on both the destinations and the marine ecosystems. The main problem facing by the most popular diving destinations, such as Australia (Great Barrier Reef and Julian Rocks Aquatic Reserve) or Pacific Islands (i.e.: Sipadan, Malaysia) (Musa, 2002) is overcrowding and overuse especially during the peak season.

Musa (2002) agrees that overcrowding has a direct impact on the amenity of the site (litters on the beach or smell from the drains), especially in case of such a small island like Sipadan. Similar problems are pointed by Davis and Tisdell (1996) for the Australian east cost diving site Julian Rocks Aquatic Reserve where during the peak season the carrying capacity has been significantly exceeded. The indirect impacts, like underwater visibility or underwater pollution are also well recognized. The second one is especially dangerous for the ecosystem, because the oil marks or the rubbish left underwater might endanger marine wildlife. For example the plastic bags may cause the death to turtles, as they mistake them for the jellyfish Musa, (2002).

However, example given by Buckley (2003, 2006), of the Great Barrier Reef diving tour, confirms thesis from Swarbrooke et al. (2003) that the impacts used to be more significant in the developing destinations, like the water village in Sipadan, rather than on the developed sites. Taka Dive is a live example, as a specialist in the dive tours operating on the Great Barrier Reef for over 18 years. The environmental friendly policy of theirs trips includes briefing all passengers before the tour not to throw any litter to the water, how to separate garbage for recycling and also how to avoid to damage the reef while diving. Their impact on the destination is also minimal as they use a purpose-build vessel licensed as a tour boat. Buckley, R. and Cater, C. (2006), Adventure tourism, CABI, Cambridge. David, D. and Tisdell, C. (1996), Recreational scuba diving and the environment, Journal of Environmental Management, Vol. 48, Issue 3, pp. 229-248.


Hiking and Camping Despite long history, only recently the interest in recreational hiking has increased. This trend is seen especially in the developed countries. Buckley (2004) according to Cordell and Supper (2000) says that in USA about 25% of population hikes and camps for the recreational purpose. And increase in their popularity is well seen around the globe. Usually impacts of waking come from developing the infrastructure for tourism, however in case of adventure tourists impacts might be the results of the activity itself. Why? Because in order of get away from typical tourists‟ activities adventure hikers tent to go out of the prepared tracks. And then, following Buckley (2006) we can find, such offers as: walking safaris in southern Africa, Annapurna hiking tours in Nepal, Ultimate Hikes in New Zealand guided walks or guided hikes up Mt Wilhelm in Papua New Guinea.

The major ecological impacts listed by Buckley (2004) are: abrasion of vegetation and soil, and compaction of soil. In the wild remote areas previously untouched by human it may cause serious changes into the ecosystem. Trekkers also endanger the environment with other „common‟ impacts, such as litters left on their way. Buckley (2006) admits that in the areas where are no toilets facilities (i.e.: Teleki Valey, Kenya) human waste may be a source of water pollution.

The impact of camping on the environment is even more significant, as it include all effects of walking plus some unique off-site impacts, such as informal trails (for example between camps and water sources) or wood‟s collection for the campfires (Buckley (2004) documented 25-63% reduction of woody material around and on campsites.

The strategy taken by most of the hiking tour operators to manage effects of trampling is the minimal-impact education. There are guides and brochures for tourists which includes information as: always stick to the trail, do not tread on vegetation, do not pick plants, pack out all rubbish, use toilet facilities, wash at least 50m from water course. Most operators release their own guide books. Nepali World Expeditions has its “Responsible Travel Guide Book”, Australian Willis‟s Walkabouts has “Bushwalking Guide”.

Musa, G. (2002)Environment: Scuba diving in Sipadan, Tourism Geographies, Vol. 4, Issue 2, pp. 195-209 Swarbrooke, J., Beard, C.,Leckie, S. and Pomfret, G. (2003), Adventure Tourism: The new frontier, Butterworth-Heinemann, Burlington.


Noise, air pollution make by motorized vehicles There are many types of vehicles used by adventure tourists which may affect the natural environment. From typical 4WD, though endure motorbikes, quads, buggies, snowmobiles to helicopters. All of them cause the impact to the wildlife when using while adventure tours. The major „suppliers‟ of those impacts are four-wheel-drive tours and heliskiing.

The most common effects listed by Buckley (2004) are:  physical damage of soil, vegetation and fauna,  air, water and noise pollution  disturbing the animals‟ movements  impacts of the travellers

The effects of OHV (offhighway vehicles) on the soil are similar to those related to hiking but much more extensive. Breaking or accelerating on the desert tracks or cause major erosion and displace the soil layers. Recovery process from the passage of on OHV, according to Buckley (2004) may due, depends on the surface, from several hours up to couple of hundreds of years. Fauna is affected by 4WD‟s especially during the safaris tours, when the accidents, like collisions or roadkill involved animals may happen. The rides on the beaches have strong impacts on variety of wildlife species. Buckley (2004) mentions significant damages made on sandybeach fauna including softshells clams in USA or shorebirds in South Africa.

The helicopters used while heliskiing or helihiking activities very often cause impacts on mountain wildlife. The principal effects in the Harris Mountains, New Zealand listed by Buckley (2006) are noise pollution, which strongly affect bird species in the area and the risk of fuel spills from refueling tanks. The impacts are similar in every area of adventure activities with use of helicopters. However, most of examples show that in this case the impacts tend to well managed. The operations used to be conducted in high mountain zones above the trees line, what make the impact of the noise less likely to disturb the wildlife.

In case of OHV‟s tours the operators try to reduce the impacts by rising drivers‟ awareness, like promoting the codes of ethics or minimal-impacts driving techniques, different way to manage is to create designated well marked or even hardened tracks, but this in long term could bring an opposite result and cause more damage than the driving itself.

Taka Dive (2009), Taka Dive Adventures, retrieved: 05/05/2009 from http://www.takadive.com.au/package.htm

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