When a country's tourism industry grows too quickly

Angkor Wat temple
Hundreds of tourists walk along the grounds of the Angkor Wat temple November 20, 2007 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Angkor Wat temple is a fast growing tourist destination and preservationists in Cambodia, one of Southeast Asia's poorest countries, are seriously concerned over damages created by constant overcrowding in touring the temple with numbers exceeding the capacity the site can manage. Angkor Wat was built between the ninth and fifteenth centuries, but was officially rediscovered in 1860 by French naturalist Henri Mouhot.
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Tourism is up worldwide as populations boom and the middle-class in many countries expands. But not every country is ready for a great influx of tourists, and tourism agencies are struggling to adapt.

In the first four months of 2012, worldwide international arrivals grew by 5 percent, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. During the peak summer months from May to August, UNWTO expects 415 million tourists to travel abroad.

"The Indians and the Chinese - their middle classes are growing, and eventually, when they start to travel like Americans, every destination is going to be overwhelmed," said travel writer and author Doug Lansky.

Lansky will join The Daily Circuit Monday to talk about mistakes tourism centers make as the numbers of visitors grow.

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"Almost every expert I spoke to, they all agreed that tourism can ruin places," he said. "If that's true, then what are we doing to protect these areas? We're doing more or less nothing."

One such place is the site of Cambodia's Angkor temples.

From the BBC:

The climb in overall visitor numbers has been equally steep. Local officials say that 640,000 foreign tourists saw Angkor in the first three months of this year - a 45% rise compared to 12 months earlier.

Khin Po Thai has witnessed the changes. He has been working at the temples for more than a decade as a tour guide and an employee of the conservation organisation, the World Monuments Fund.

Now, he believes the ancient temples are in serious peril.

"We have to look at the people going round, stepping on stones and carvings," he says.

Joe Diaz, a co-founder of AFAR travel magazine, will also join the discussion.

What is the tourism industry getting wrong - and how can we make travel better for everyone?


Some areas that get a large volume of tourists will have to start considering limiting the number of visitors once Chinese and Indian citizens start traveling internationally like Americans.

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