Tourism and Scenic Conservation
August 29, 2023
Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, CA | Image credit: Jo San Diego, Unsplash

Tourism and scenic conservation can be seen as two sides of the same coin. The magnetic allure of picturesque landscapes, pristine beaches, and awe-inspiring heritage sites often ignites a traveler’s wanderlust. Yet, it’s the committed effort toward scenic conservation that ensures these places are preserved, and can continue as a vital driving force for local tourism. In this article, we’ll explore those connections between scenic conservation and tourism.

Hapuna Beach, HI | Image credit: Simon Hurry, Unsplash

The Influence of Scenic Beauty on Tourism

Scenic beauty has an undeniable impact on the tourism sector. Tourists are increasingly drawn to destinations offering a unique combination of nature, culture, and authenticity. For example, the awe-inspiring scale of the Grand Canyon draws millions of tourists each year. In 2021, more than 4.5 million people visited the national park, spending a collective $710 million in gateway communities.

The popularity of sights like these — as well as a recent shift in travelers’ preference from purely commercialized tourist spots to scenic regions — highlights the need for well-conserved aesthetic beauty and visual character.

Cameron, AZ | Image credit: Sonaal Bangera, Unsplash

The Economic Impact of Tourism: Financial Incentive for Scenic Conservation

On the flip side, tourism serves as an economic catalyst for scenic conservation. The World Bank reports that “for every dollar governments invest in protected areas and support for nature-based tourism, the economic rate of return is at least six-times the original investment.” This financial influx enables the preservation and enhancement of natural habitats, historic sites, and cultural experiences.

York, ME | Image credit: Ruth Curtis, Unsplash

Achieving a Sustainable Balance

While tourism brings significant economic value, it’s essential to avoid harming the very resources it relies upon. Implementing sustainable and responsible tourism that respects local cultures, preserves natural habitats, and encourages tourist education can help achieve this balance.

In essence, tourism and scenic conservation are interdependent, each — if properly managed — thriving off the other’s success. As awareness of this relationship increases, the future of both industries looks bright, offering an inviting panorama for travelers and conservationists alike.

Washington, DC | Image credit: Jacob Creswick, Unsplash

Here at Scenic America, we value our country’s scenic beauty and want to see it persist. We work to preserve the Scenic Byways, landscapes, and towns that define our nation’s visual character. Donate today to help us protect our beautiful places and the heart of our country’s character!