Sustainable tourism for sustainable development

By Rajiv Joshi

Sustainable development is defined as a development process which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

British environmental activist George Monbiot has argued over the years, sustainable development has morphed into sustained growth. The essence of his argument is that little development has been observed beyond rhetoric. Our nature and environment requires limiting the utilization or controlling the demand but in contrary our economies are ever demanding and seek endless resources. At the present time, economic growth has been dominating environmental limits resulting to less sustainability.

Tourism is the vital force for sustainable development. Large number of countries in the world rely on tourism as their major source of economies, so the tourism industry is a driving force for the sustainable development.

The term Sustainable tourism comes from the concept of sustainable development. UN World Tourism Organisation defines sustainable tourism as industry that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. So, the effort has to be directed at harnessing tourism instead of “sustaining tourism” for achieving wider sustainable development goals.

In 2018, more than 1.4 billion people travelled world wide as a tourist and more than 6 billion people travelled within their own country.

Tourism not only supports the economy, but the lack of commitment of the industry towards environment and growing number of travelers has resulted to over-exploitation and degradation in some places. We have been hearing about the cities suffering from mass tourism. Residents of Venice accused tourists of destroying their city. City of Barcelona even passed a legislation to limit new tourist accommodation and many tourist destination are following the control measures.

Tourism can touch every places and lives. People are interested to tour Antarctica to see its pristine environment before it disappears, but they don’t even realize that it’s them who are contributing to global warming and threatening these last wild place.

It is difficult to get a complete picture of the impacts of tourism towards places and environment because nobody seem much interested to get the broad view resulting to fragmented insights. We should work more on making tourism more sustainable by implementing effective measures.

How can tourism be more sustainable?

Tourism can be made more sustainable with various measures. Some look for technological solutions while others opine for conscious and slow travel. But in a world of ever growing population with endless demands are compromising fragile environment. At a time when more people are traveling than ever, with endless demands and choices for travel, we need more concerted efforts to make tourism more sustainable.

Governments must implement policies that promote sustainable development by overcoming the demand of growth. Tourism should be developed within sustainable development parameters. Governments must take measures to tackle the environmental issues and the concern for climate changes, we observe on a daily basis. Tourism development requires proper and integrated planning. So, the government and the tourism authorities of any country should emphasize on integrated planning to address the issue.

Consumers should be educated more for taking responsible travel choices. For example, few realize the fact that if you take a local accommodation while traveling than it can benefit the locals while looking for a franchised resorts which take economic benefits to their home country, it will create sustainability at local level. Educating at schools or raising awareness can also help in creating responsible travel.

Likewise, local communities which are taken as one among the many stakeholders, must be given rights to participate in tourism decision-making and voice for their communities for making better and sustainable tourism destinations.

Human resources are the major forces in tourism as well as driving economies. They must have their rights respected and given decent working conditions. Tourism industry should work in such a way that its work-force also benefits from it. Tourism should also avoid itself from being low-waged and unstable source of employment.

Meanwhile, the tourism industry also needs to assume greater responsibility. They should be more responsible. They should be abiding by the rules and policies and submitting to local tax regimes so that its presence will help communities to thrive rather than undermining them. They should be more aware about the social responsibilities they need to abide and carry. Tourism businesses should also educate their clients on responsible tourism.

Apart from those directly linked with the industry, other lives of the society should also be more aware of the environmental issues and sustainable development. Coordination at each walks of life is necessary in achieving the common goal of sustainable development.

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