When on a short holiday, the idea that fun, relaxation and enjoyment are the prime objectives can lead to a sense of carefree abandonment. Not surprisingly health risks can then include overindulgence in foods which may contain more oil or spices than the traveller is familiar with at home.
Travel agents are not legally bound to inform travellers about health risks, but some suggest to clients that they should seek travel health advice well before travelling and even before booking.
Increased alcohol consumption and smoking can result from lower prices than at home.
Road accidents are a risk especially when hiring scooters or motorbikes; forgetting traffic may drive on the opposite side of the road from at home.
Sunburn more so when intentionally sunbathing and accidents in swimming pools swimming the sea are common.
While the package tourist rarely visits poorer parts of countries, they do not escape the risk of travellers’ diarrhoea - often acquired when eating contaminated food or drinks away from their hotel.
Loose motions, constipation and irritable bowel disorders can result from a change in diet or the stress of travel.
Respiratory infections including ‘colds’, influenza and norovirus (also causing diarrhoea) spread when many people crowd into aircraft and cruise ships. Crowding may also be present in busy hotels and bars as well as in airports and when on public transport.
There may be a risk of exposure to life-threatening infections such as malaria and yellow fever
Many tourist destinations have been adversely affected (environmentally and culturally) by an influx of visitors, numbers varying during certain seasons.
Awareness of the problems and responsibility on the part of companies and travellers can help to minimise this damage.
Sometimes local services such as food, water supplies, waste and sewage disposal cannot keep pace with the influx of tourists during the holiday seasons although there these difficulties may be kept out of sight of the tourists and mostly affect locals.
Most well-established game parks are well aware of environmental issues and the need for supporting animal welfare. However, there are tour operators who promote and advertise ‘eco-friendly’ holidays with varying levels of concern about environmental issues - profit often take precedence.
With the environment in mind travellers should be aware of the importance of:
taking care not to damage local flora and fauna
reducing the use of plastic bottles and bags
disposing of ‘rubbish’ carefully, recycling if possible
being sensitive to the culture of locals regarding lifestyle and dress
buying local produce to support local communities
avoiding souvenirs made from wild animal products
For more information about environmental issues related to travel and organisation attempting to manage the issues involved see:
Overtourism considers the damage done to archaeological and other sites by very large numbers of visitors and how this can be overcome.
Slow tourism looks at issues raised by large numbers of short, often day or weekend visitors to rural and often remote areas providing income for the locals but where facilities such as road and accommodation cannot cope.
The International Ecotourism Society focuses on responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of the local people.
(updated August 2018)