Tourism and the environment have an important, yet controversial relationship, that needs to be in a perfect balance to benefit each other. Beautiful natural landscapes or unique flora and fauna are the main drivers of tourism into an area. But when too many tourists visit natural sites, the environment and its inhabitants suffer from the negative impacts, which easily outweigh all the benefits due to exceeding the natural carrying capacity of a place. On the other hand, when the number of visitors is balanced with respect for the natural environment, tourism has great potential in supporting or even starting out new conservation projects that protect unique areas and benefit local residents.
As more and more countries focus on expanding their tourism sites, they often encounter problems with overconsumption of their finite natural resources, pollution, and degradation. This easily spirals into undesirable situations with negative impacts on the local environment and society. Tourism as a fast-growing industry must follow the principles of sustainability to last long term while maintaining positive impacts for an area. In terms of environment, this means consumption of natural resources within acceptable limits, protecting biodiversity and making sure that essential ecological processes can take place, while providing a pleasant experience for visiting tourists. A part of striving towards sustainability is also raising awareness about the unique natural features of an area and educating visitors about their sustainable management. This helps them to understand the rules set in place and respect differences.