Paradise Lost?

A town or region or even a country can appeal to so many tourists that the very experience of being there changes.

6 endangered spaces

And the destination may change itself to encourage and accommodate even more tourism. Does this detract from the quality of the experience of being there? Does success—as measured by the number of visitors—ruin an attraction? Or can change, and even the presence of so many people, be positive? We explore these questions as we examine a half-dozen destinations, from the wild to the exotic to the distinctively homegrown. Each has become a major draw for tourists. But success has treated each differently. At one extreme is Disneyland—the attraction wouldn't exist without crowds of tourists. At the other is Costa Rica—the fragile quality of the traveler's experience there may be threatened by its popularity. Here are reports on how six destinations are affected by, and are coping with, burgeoning crowds of visitors.

Photos by Ryan Baldwin, Catherine Karnow, C. S. Bettencourt/Photo 20-20, Robert Holmes/Corbis, Bob Rowan/Corbis, Dennis Flaherty, Ben Davidson/Photo 20-20, Phil Schermeister/Corbis, Kristina Malsberger, Disney, Dean Conger/Corbis, Alan Huestis/FFP Stock, Buddy Mays/Travel Stock, Greg Vaughn, Chromosohm/Joe Sohm/The Stock Market, and Glenn

This article was first published in July 2000. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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