To many tourists, leaving behind coins in a fountain, lovelocks on a bridge or clouties (offerings) at sacred sites is a symbol of luck, gratitude or tradition, yet few stop to consider the impact that these actions can cause to the places they so revere. Here we look at the damage that tourists can unwittingly inflict on some of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Padlocks attached to a fence with a view over Santorini
Santorini: because nothing improves an incredible view like lumps of rusting metal...

Tourism is just as environmentally damaging as any other industry with air travel, cruise ships, overcrowding, noise and overbuilding being responsible for a huge impact on the health of the countries affected - in fact tourism is responsible for nearly 10% of all greenhouses gases alone.

While many travellers are aware of this and will go out of their way to mitigate their impact, these same people will happily attach a padlock to a bridge to symbolise their 'eternal love', throw coins into any fountain or stream they may come across for 'good luck', or leave offerings at sacred sites to 'respect' some vague deity. These actions are just as damaging to both the environment and to the people who live in these places, and there are other options out there.