Community impact

Increasing mobility – not only in tourism – is leading to rising demand for domestic transport infrastructure. Megaprojects such as airports or ferry ports, as well as smaller construction projects such as roads, railways and bridges, may violate property rights of communities and lead to the destruction and pollution of the surrounding environment.

In many countries, indigenous communities and other groups have been evicted from their lands so that transport infrastructure can be built. Often, transport infrastructure planning does not include prior consultation with the communities directly affected by such projects. In some cases, planned evictions have led to community protests, some of which have been forcibly suppressed by police or security services.

Construction of infrastructure may lead to the destruction of agricultural land, wildlife habitats, forests, or community heritage sites, and may have negative effects on biodiversity. Extensive water use by large-scale infrastructure and the draining of untreated sewage into the surrounding waters restrict communities’ access to intact nature. Air pollution due to a high level of traffic in the vicinity of an airport or port may lead to health issues and the faster weathering of (heritage) buildings.

Often the local population does not profit from the economic benefits of the nearby transport infrastructure as job opportunities are filled with workers from other regions or from abroad and retail space is rented to international companies.

Cambodia: Displacements without compensation for a railway project.

More than 4000 families were forced to make way for the rehabilitation of a railway in Cambodia, which has been operational again since 2016. The train links the capital with the coast and Ream National Park and is primarily used by tourists. The displaced families face various problems, including difficult access to transportation, finding new sources of income and livelihood, mounting debt because of inadequate compensation and limited access to electricity and clean drinking water.

Farmers protest against proposed airport on their lands in India.

More than 7000 farmers participated in a protest against a planned airport in Andar Pradesh State in India in 2015. Major parts of farmers’ agricultural lands were foreseen to be acquired by the government for the construction of the airport, destroying farmer’s property and livelihood.

Indonesia: Villagers resist eviction for 50 sq.km airport city on their land

Numerous villages were to make way for an airport megaproject in Indonesia. Villagers protesting against the loss of their farmland and livelihoods, as well as corrupt land acquisition practices, were subject to state repression and brutality.

Rights for Sale: The interoceanic grand canal project in Nicaragua and the erosion of human rights

According to local civil society organisations, the Nicaraguan Government’s plans to build a direct competitor to the Panama Canal will affect hundreds of thousands of people, mostly because of possible mass evictions.

Ferries used by commuters and tourists in the centre of London are spewing out pollution equivalent to hundreds of buses and trucks every day.

The vessels have lax standards on engines and emissions controls because they operate under the same rules as trawlers in the North Sea.

Shipping pollution contains high levels of pollutants that have been linked with a variety of diseases.

Whereas increasingly tight regulations on cars and vans have been introduced, with the perspective of developing London into an ultra-low emission zone, the river traffic has been left out in these plans.

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Take action

Sector collaboration

  • Get involved in local transport infrastructure development planning, raise issues and suggest measures related to the community impact of projects.

Impact assessment

  • Consult local stakeholders and potentially affected rightsholders through an in-depth human rights impact assessment of potential/actual issues surrounding the development of transport infrastructure related to tourism.

Find more information on potential measures to take on the "take action" site. 

Learn more

Find more information in the Resource Centre.