National parks around the world are increasingly attracting visitors to experience pristine and unique natural environments. National Parks are extensive tracts of the countryside that have been given strong protection under legislation for the conservation and enhancement of their special qualities.
According to the Environments Act (1995) National Parks were designated for two statutory purposes: 1- To conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage and 2- To provide opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the Park by the public.
The National Park Authorities (NPA) are responsible for the overall management of National Parks their duty is to ensure that the two objectives of National Parks are fulfilled.
Tourism impacts are the effects that tourists and tourists activities have on a destination. We will be looking at three main types of impacts that tourism can have on a destination. They are environmental, socio-cultural as well as economic impacts. The word impact gives a negative meaning however tourism impacts can be both positive and negative on a destination.
Environmental Impacts (physical – what can be seen) – It is not possible to develop tourism without incurring environmental impacts. Tourism development and activities (litter / pollution) can gradually destroy an environment’s resources. Many of these impacts involves the construction of infrastructure e.g. Creation of roads; hotels & airports etc. Tourism has the potential to create beneficial effects on the environment by contributing to environmental protection and conservation. Tourism can also raise awareness of environmental values and it can serve as a tool to finance protection of natural areas and increase their economic importance.
Economic Impacts – There is no doubt that tourism has a large effect on the economy of a destination. Tourism contribute to sales, profits, employment opportunities for locals (transportations, accommodations), and generate income for payment of goods and services provided.
Socio-Cultural Impacts – The outcome of social relationships that occur between tourists and hosts when in contact. Socio-cultural impacts can have an effect on a destination’s culture to the behaviour of its residents. It is considered to be the changes in the quality of life of residents of tourist destinations. Destinations involved in the tourism business experience socio-cultural changes as a result of tourism activity, an increase in tourist may cause locals to become irritated if they feel that their way of life is being threatened. E.g. Rich tourists who are accustomed to a certain way of life; their attitude towards the quality of service provided at a destination may cause the locals to feel threatened.