The importance of sustainable tourism
Typically, when people think of sustainable tourism they consider how it impacts the environment. But, it also takes into account the current and future economic, social and environmental impact of its activities.
In order to have sustainability fully incorporated into tourism there is a lot to consider, from laws and regulations to the local people and demand from tourists. That is why, it is important to not only look at sustainable tourism from the perspective of the tourism provider but also from that of an individual tourist. Every cog in the machine is crucial to ensure that sustainable tourism thrives.
The benefits of sustainable tourism
There are many strong benefits to be gained from committing to sustainable tourism, the three main umbrella points being: helping the creating environment, it’s economic advantages for the destination, and providing support to local communities. Not only this but creating tourism that is sustainable has the advantage of creating sustainable mobility, meaning that the activities can continue and are more future-proofed.
Supporting the environment is key to sustainability in tourism. In order to do this issues such as waste, contamination and the use of non-organic products as well as over-tourism must be considered when providing an experience to tourists.
As previously discussed, local communities also benefit from this type of tourism, as being a part of the decision-making process for tourism development ensures that they are protected from inflation, their culture is safeguarded and they benefit from the income streams that are brought to the area by tourism.
It can help the area prosper and continue to protect itself within tourism. It is clear, that this then becomes a positive cycle – with benefits for everyone involved in the process.
Why is sustainability so important?
From the previous section it is clear that this is crucial to the continued development of the tourism industry. Some places have had the issue of over-tourism; where many tourists go to one destination creating the need for more accommodation and attractions. This then leads to natural areas and resources being rerouted for the tourist which means local wildlife suffers and locals are competing for resources. Therefore, tourism that is sustainable helps in preventing this cycle is crucial for the development of the industry to continue and thrive.
Sustainable tourism has been a growing trend, coming to the forefront in 2017 when the UN declared it the year of sustainable tourism for development. And today, with the benefits of less tourism becoming clearer as the coronavirus continues to delay tourism.
How can you ensure sustainable tourism is achieved?
There are many ways to ensure that you are a sustainable tourist and that you provide tourism that is sustainable within your area many of which are two sides of the same coin. For example, taking more environmentally friendly transportation and becoming a part of the ‘slow travel’ trend can be considered by the individual tourist and promoted by tourism operators. The same can be said for waste and the choices made around it. As a tourist, choosing organic options in shops and reducing the plastic you buy can help make tourism more sustainable, and those within the tourism industry can choose to use locally purified water and provide more organic and recyclable options for visitors. Contributing to the local economy is also key to ensuring sustainable tourism, by buying and providing souvenirs from locals the cultural heritage and economy is supported by both sides of the tourism industry.
For practical ways to ensure you are providing a sustainable tourism experience read ‘Going Green: Case Study of the Europe Hotel and Resort, Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland’. Sustainable tourism is incredibly important for the continued development of the tourism industry. If you found this blog interesting you may also enjoy ‘Building a Sustainable Events Industry in Ireland: Industry Insights on Green Skills and Best Practice’, ‘Interview with Sophie van den Top – sustainability among Tour Operators and Travel Agents’ and ‘The Next Tourism Generation project and Overtourism – case of Italy’.