Impacts of tourism development on the physical environment of Mussoorie, a hill station in the lower Himalayan range of India
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Tourism in mountainous regions is a significant source of revenue generation. However, it has also been associated with many adverse environmental consequences. This study aims at assessing the negative impacts of the incessant upsurge in tourism development on the physical environment of Mussoorie, a well-known mountain tourist destination in India. The impact indicators for the region were identified and assessed by qualitative and quantitative analysis of field observations. The observations indicated the aggravation of traffic congestion, atmospheric pollution, undisposed solid waste, water scarcity and infrastructure unavailability as the prevalent issues, especially during the peak tourist months. The extent of the consequential damage to the environment was evaluated by conducting an assessment of tourism-induced human disturbance on the natural landscape of the town. Slope, slope aspect, vegetation cover, road network and drainage network were incorporated as the determining landscape attributes to prepare thematic maps of landscape quality (perceivable intrinsic properties) and landscape fragility (vulnerability to anthropogenic disturbances) using GIS technique. An absorption capacity map was finally prepared to characterize the study area into regions of different conservation needs. The results identified the need for planning appropriate preservation strategies for different tourist places in the town. The study can be used by the policy makers for implementing the regulatory measures against potential disturbances due to mass-tourism.
KeywordsAbsorption capacity Analytical Hierarchy Process Geographic Information System Human interventions Landscape assessment Mountain Tourism Destination
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Financial support provided to the first author from the Department of Science & Technology, Government of India under grant DST/INSPIRE FELLOWSHIP/2012/558 is gratefully acknowledged. Authors would like to thank both the anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions. We also thank Mr. Madhav Chamoli, Technical Assistant and Mr. Vikas Painuly, student from SENR, Doon University for their assistance in lab.
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