25 Endangered Historical Sites Being Destroyed By Tourists

Posted by , Updated on May 22, 2024

It is widely recognized that tourism contributes to the degradation of both natural beauty and historical sites. Nonetheless, tourism remains a crucial source of revenue for numerous countries and communities. This brings up a significant question: how can tourists support the destinations they visit without causing harm? Here are 25 Historical Sites in Danger of Being Damaged by Tourists.



Pyramids of Giza, Egypt

Pyramids of Giza, EgyptSource: nytimes

Of all the historical sites ruined by tourism, this one catches a lot of people off guard. Between the amount of trash everywhere and the scammers always looking to make a quick buck, the area surrounding the pyramids isn’t quite what you would expect. Also, there have been numerous tourists caught climbing the pyramids without permission.


Venice, Italy

Venice, ItalySource: independent.co.uk, Image: https://pixabay.com (public domain)

The tourism industry here has pretty much taken over the city. In fact, it’s so bad that in the last 30 years the city has lost half of its fixed population. The whole city has become a huge tourist trap.


Mount Everest (and surrounding villages), Nepal

Mount Everest (and surrounding villages), NepalSource: adventure.howstuffworks.com

Thanks in part to social media, the number of climbers on Mount Everest has skyrocketed (pun intended). This has led to a lot more trash. In fact, the mountain has a well documented poop-problem. The trail to the top is littered with human feces and garbage, some being years old. (It freezes).



AntarcticaSource: theguardian.com, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

A classic case of tourism destroying the environment, the frozen continent has seen an massive increase in visitors lately. From marathons to surfers, everybody wants to say they were there. The problem, however, is that in a place where no government has jurisdiction…no government has the responsibility to clean things up or protect the environment. It’s the bystander effect on an international level.


Machu Picchu, Peru

machu-picchuSource: nationalgeographic.com, Image: pixabay (public domain)

Rediscovered in the early 20th century, Machu Picchu has steadily attracted more and more visitors. Weak local government and a strong influx of tourism has caused damage to the site – damage that guides and conservationists are having a hard time containing.


The Parthenon, Greece

ParthenonSource: cbc.ca

While Greece relies on tourism, it’s a double edged sword. The government had to even crack down on people leaving with rocks in their pockets.


If you’re enjoying this list, be sure to check out 25 Tourist Locations People Complain About For Various Reasons.


Stonehenge, UK

stonehenge sunsetSource: inews.co.uk, Image: pixabay (public domain)

Ever dreamed about roaming freely around these beautiful megaliths? Thanks to tourists leaving behind graffiti, chewing gum, and a few reported cases of poop, that’s no longer an option. However, you’re still welcome to stand behind the rope the encloses the structure and look from a distance.


Wadi Rum, Jordan

Wadi Rum, JordanSource: dw.com

An attractive place for people seeking desert adventures, a combination of mismanagement and tourist dollars have led to the environment being overrun by various groups offering 4 wheel drive tours in the desert.


Jaisalmer, India

Jaisalmer, IndiaSource: smithsonianmag.com

Home to a very popular fort, more and more tourists have decided to stay in the structure itself. Increased water usage and crumbling infrastructure have lead to parts of the ancient monument being eroded.



IcelandSource: guidetoisland.is

Thanks to more low cost carriers flying to the island, tourists from both Europe and North America have been visiting in record numbers. This has led to strain on both local infrastructure and the environment.


Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel, MexicoSource: aida-americas.org

Once known for its pristine natural beauty and incredible reefs, increased tourism has led to more local development. And although the economy of the island relies heavily on tourism, the environment and rich cultural history risk being overrun in the process.


This isn’t the only Mexican city that made this list. Keep reading to find out more!


Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Phi Phi Islands, ThailandSource: bbc

Made famous by the film “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, tourism has skyrocketed here since 2000. In fact, the makers of the film have even been blamed for the damage being done to the scenic islands.


Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Galapagos Islands, EcuadorSource: theguardian.com

Every year, thousands of tourists retrace the steps of Charles Darwin, which puts pressure on the local environment. In 2007, UNESCO even added the islands to its “endangered list” of historical sites.


Bali, Indonesia

Bali, IndonesiaSource: worldcrunch.com, Image: https://pixabay.com (public domain)

Although it is known for its amazing beaches, the environment is being littered, traffic is increasing, and higher levels of consumption are causing increased pressures on the local environment and culture.


Great Wall of China

Cinque Terre, ItalySource: theguardian.com

Booming tourism has inevitably led to damage along the wall as locals compete for tourist dollars. Graffiti and erosion have been documented at increasing rates.


Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre, ItalySource: theguardian.com, Image: https://pixabay.com (public domain)

Since more and more cruise ships have been making pit stops at these quaint Italian fishing villages, the local infrastructure has been overwhelmed. Authorities have even decided to limit the number of annual visitors to 1.5 million, which is still a lot!


Yangshuo, China

Yangshuo, ChinaSource: chinahighlights.com, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

As the Chinese tourist industry has expanded, this out-of-the-way town has increasingly made it onto the radar. These days it is attracting several million visitors annually, which is not easily sustainable for the formerly quiet village.


Taj Mahal, India

Taj Mahal, IndiaSource: thehindu.com

Increased tourism and pollution from the local river has been taking its toll on the famous landmark. In fact, the Taj Mahal has even been turning noticeably yellow!


Teotihuacan, Mexico

Teotihuacan, MexicoSource: nytimes.com, Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org (public domain)

These famous ruins have been trampled by tourism in the last few decades. They even made headlines in 2004 when Walmart decided to open a store right on the site!


Mogao Grottoes, China

Mogao Grottoes, ChinaSource: washingtonpost.com

In an attempt to limit the damage to the grottos, the government has limited the number of daily tourists to 6,000.


Santorini, Greece

Santorini, GreeceSource: smartertravel.com, Image: https://pixabay.com (public domain)

Greece’s most popular cruise destination has been struggling to protect its environment and infrastructure beneath the load of tourist attention. Recently, it joined the list of places capping tourism by limiting cruises to 8,000 visitors per day.


Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, CambodiaSource: bbc

Cambodia’s most famous attraction has long attracted visitors thanks to its well preserved Khmer architecture. You can even find it on the flag! Unfortunately, all the tourism has led to the integrity of the site being compromised and some trouble makers even leave graffiti markings.


Roman Colosseum, Italy

Roman Colosseum, ItalySource: theguardian.com

Like the Parthenon, the Colosseum struggles under the tourist load. And even though the pictures look nice, if you ever go, you might be surprised to see how much trash people leave behind.


If the Colosseum isn’t really your speed anyway, check out these 25 Dark Tourism Sites You Won’t Want To Spend A Night At.


Tulum, Mexico

Tulum, MexicoSource: efe.com

One of the last Mayan cities has lost much of its isolated charm in the last few decades. With high numbers of tourists bringing more development, shops, and hotels, the city’s historical roots are disappearing.


Lascaux, France

Lascaux, FranceSource: phys.org

This is the textbook example of tourism destroying a place. The prehistoric cave had to be shut down in 1963 only 20 years after being discovered due to damage caused by uncontrolled crowds.