What is sustainable tourism?

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Sustainable tourism has its roots in sustainable development. The latter refers to the development that meets the needs of the people today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987).

The world developed incredibly fast in the last 60 years. This rapid development has heavily impacted on the socio-cultural and environmental spectrums worldwide. Consequently, an awareness has been developed that any development must be sustainable. This article briefly focuses on definitions and principles of sustainable tourism.

Definition of sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism is basically the application of sustainable development idea to the tourism sector. According to Swarbrooke (1999) sustainable tourism means tourism which is economically viable but does not destroy the resources on which the future of tourism will depend, notably the physical environment and the social fabric of the host community. It involves the minimisation of negative impacts and the maximisation of positive impacts of tourism.

Principles of sustainable tourism

Three main principles to consider are as follows:

Economically viable

Socially responsible

Environmentally friendly

When planning tourism activities, organisations need to ensure that their offers to the tourists are economically viable. It implies that the offers should be affordable for the tourists while reasonably profitable for the providers. Likewise, both tourists and tourism organisations need to ensure that the society is benefitting from the tourism activities. Jobs for local people, infrastructure development, opportunities for interactions between tourists and local people are some of the examples of socially responsible activities.

In addition to economic viability and social responsibility, environmental friendliness is also an important aspect of sustainable tourism development. Tourism activities sometimes have an immensely negative impact on the environment. For example, Bali in Indonesia is under threat of increased deforestation due to a massive growth in tourism. Likewise, sanitation is one of the biggest environmental challenges in the Mount Everest.

In a nutshell, sustainable tourism is a widely used term today. Many tourists are now-a-days interested in the impact of tourism on environment. Cheap flights, package holidays and some other factors have increased dramatically the number people travelling to both domestic and international destinations. This has both positive and negative impacts on environment, local people, cultures and many other areas. Therefore, sustainable tourism is a subject of massive interest.

We hope the article on sustainable tourism has been useful. You may also like reading Enclave tourism – definition and characteristics, Impact of tourism, and Factors affecting tourism demand. If you liked this article, please share it by clicking on the icons below.

The article publication date: 10 March 2017

Further Reading/References

Harris, R., Griffin, T., & Williams, P (2002) Sustainable Tourism: A Global Perspective, 1st edition, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann

Photo credit: Pixabay

Author: Jo David

Jo David has years of experience both in the UK and abroad. He writes regularly online on a variety of topics. He has a keen interest in business, hospitality and tourism management.