Sustainable Tourism: meaning, challenges and approaches towards it

When people think about sustainability, tourism isn’t the first thing they have in mind. Sustainable tourism refers to sustainable practices which can be carried out by the tourism industry.

If we only think at how much our carbon footprint changes substantially just by taking an airplane or even by driving a car we can see how big a role tourism could play in a more sustainable world. According to the German nonprofit Atmosfair, a flight from London to New York and back generates about 986kg of CO2 per passenger. However tourism isn’t only about transportation.

According to the EU, certain criteria should be met in order to define it sustainable tourism. First of all it should make optimal use of environmental resources, maintaining essential ecological processes and conserving natural heritage and biodiversity. Secondly the socio-cultural community of the host communities should be fully respected and finally, long-term and viable economic operations should be ensured which provide socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders.

What is already done and could be implemented further in countries which aren’t green enough? Examples of sustainable tourism include restricting tourist numbers in certain popular destinations, as has just been done in Venice which now requires a reservation and an entrance fee, making green improvements to tourism transports and promoting tourism businesses that provide a guaranteed level of rights towards human or animals involved in the business.

Sustainable tourism can face a challenge from the economic point of view since not only substitutive electric vehicles pose a greater burden since they are more costly, but also the frequently visited destinations could face a lower tourist influx causing a dent in their economy. Tourism is in fact plays a huge role in world economy in terms of total revenue, employment, income and projected growth. Contributed revenues might be in the trillions worldwide.

On the other hand great pros come with sustainable tourism. First of all it places a focus on both short and long-term needs and wants, it also places a balanced focus on the environmental, economic and social aspects of tourism instead of only the profit motive. Secondly the concept of sustainable tourism has become more known around the world and many tourist destinations already have sustainability practices in place.

Sustainable tourism embodies various of the EU sustainable development goals. It plays a big role in fighting climate change and making economic growth prosper. Sustainable options shouldn’t only represent passive actions, avoiding to take planes or cars, but also active actions, new innovative eco-friendly proposals and solutions.

By Anna De Seta

https://www.unwto.org/sustainable-development https://bettermeetsreality.com/sustainable-tourism-pros-cons-examples-is-it-possible/? utm_content=cmp-true https://www.theguardian.com/environment/ng-interactive/2019/jul/19/carbon-calculator- how-taking-one-flight-emits-as-much-as-many-people-do-in-a-year

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