By Rhett Butler   |  Last updated July 27, 2012
Tourism can have negative environmental and social effects on the rainforest and its inhabitants. The growing interest in travel to developing countries has spawned a boom in the construction of resorts and hotels on rainforest and mangrove forest lands. Demand by these hotels for tropical hardwood provides another market for woods logged from primary rainforest. Some hotels lack proper waste management and instead send sewage and trash a few hundred yards offshore where it can spawn algae blooms, affecting coral reefs and contributing to eutrophic dead zones.

Tourists can have profound social effects on local and Indigenous communities. In vying for tourist dollars, traditions can be forgotten and conflicts can arise between members of the community. In some areas, poor villagers turn to prostitution to earn cash from tourists. If tourism is going to provide long term benefits to local people it must be sustainable.

Lake Balbina, a giant Amazon dam
Manu Cloud Forest Lodge in Peru is popular for birders who want to see the Andean cock-of-the-rock. Click image for more information. (Photo by R. Butler)

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