What is Sustainable Tourism?
Sustainable tourism is a form of tourism that follows the principles of sustainability.
Sustainable tourism, in its purest sense, is an industry committed to making a low impact on the natural environment and local culture, while helping to generate income and employment for locals. Sustainable tourists can reduce the impact of tourism in many ways, including:
- informing themselves of the culture, politics, and economy of the communities visited;
- anticipating and respecting local cultures’ expectations and assumptions;
- contributing to intercultural understanding and tolerance;
- supporting the integrity of local cultures by favoring businesses which conserve cultural heritage and traditional values;
- supporting local economies by purchasing local goods and participating with small, local businesses;
- conserving resources by seeking out businesses that are environmentally conscious, and by using the least possible amount of non-renewable resources.
Increasingly, destinations and tourism operations are endorsing and following “responsible tourism” as a pathway towards sustainable tourism. Responsible tourism and sustainable tourism have an identical goal, that of sustainable development. The pillars of responsible tourism are therefore the same as those of sustainable tourism – environmental integrity, social justice and economic development. The major difference between the two is that, in responsible tourism, individuals, organizations and businesses are asked to take responsibility for their actions and the impacts of their actions.
Sustainable tourism development guidelines and management practices are applicable to all forms of tourism in all types of destinations, including mass tourism and the various niche tourism segments. Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability.
Thus, sustainable tourism should:
Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.
Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.
Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.
Achieving sustainable tourism is a continuous process and it requires constant monitoring of impacts, introducing the necessary preventive and/or corrective measures whenever necessary. Sustainable tourism should also maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction and ensure a meaningful experience to the tourists, raising their awareness about sustainability issues and promoting sustainable tourism practices among them.
Responsible Tourism Links:
- Introduction to Responsible Tourism
- What is Responsible Tourism
- Learn more about Sustainable Tourism
- Learn more about Eco-Tourism
- Learn more about Community-based Tourism
- Learn more about Coastal Sustainable Tourism
- Learn how you can help make a difference
- Learn more about green-friendly hotels