MOROCCO

Just 10 years ago Marrakech was a city of around 500,000 people. Today that number sits above 1.2 million. In 2008, less than 3 million tourists visited the entire country of Morocco. Last year that number was nearly 11 million, and a vast majority of them traveled to/through Marrakech.
This huge surge in the numbers of tourists and residents has done two things to my home city. First, it’s brought many jobs and much-needed income. Second, it’s put a strain on resources and infrastructure in a way that has proven difficult to manage.
Many longtime Marrakech residents felt an initial benefit from this influx of tourism when they were able to sell their properties and get work. But today the cost of basic goods, rents, and more rises while salaries remain relatively stagnant.
Tourists expect Marrakech to be a cheap destination, thanks to the subsidized low-cost carriers that fly into the city daily. This has a trickle-down effect on the economy. People need to earn more money now than they did a few years ago to maintain even a basic standard of life.
A walk through the medina today is met by hundreds, if not thousands of tourists. It’s very difficult now to experience what traditional life is like in Marrakech, primarily because residents are increasingly outnumbered by tourists.
Many visitors don’t see the negative impacts tourism has had, because Marrakech is still “much more exotic” than their home countries. But for Marrakech, tourism has proven both a blessing and a curse. –Amanda Ponzio-Mouttaki of MarocMama.
MAURITIUS
Mauritius is a beautiful island in the Indian Ocean, 1,200 miles off the southeast coast of Africa. There, misty clouds linger around the top of forested mountains. Tropical temperatures allow lazy days at white sandy beaches, or snorkeling in turquoise lagoons amongst colorful fish and corals.
We stayed in Mauritius for more than a month and liked it. But the negative impacts of tourism on the island are readily apparent.
With around 1.3 million residents in 790 square miles, Mauritius is among the countries with the highest population density in the world. More than one million tourists visit Mauritius every year. Driving across the island, it feels like one massive, congested town, with the exception of a few sugarcane fields and coastal areas dominated by luxury resorts.
Outside of southern Mauritius, where the last pocket of extended forest remains in the Black Forest National Park, very little natural habitat is left for local wildlife. Unfortunately, this is one of the island’s most heavily promoted regions for day trips, with busloads of tourists visiting every day. It will take smarter decisions by the government, tour operators, and responsible tourism NGOs to reduce the destructive environmental impacts of tourism in Mauritius’ future. –Marcelle Heller of The Wild Life