The future of tourism
Tourism is one of the world's largest and fastest growing industries. It affects the lives of people and the environment in many ways, both positively and negatively.
Sustainable tourism development guidelines and management practices are applicable to the entire sector everywhere, including both mass and niche destinations. Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development. A suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee long-term sustainability.
Thus, sustainable tourism should:
1. make optimal use of environmental resources and conserve the natural heritage and biodiversity
2. respect the socio-cultural features of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to intercultural understanding and tolerance
3. ensure long-term economic viability by providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders; these should be fairly distributed and help reduce poverty, including by generating opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship
“Sustainable tourism development requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building. 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 amongst them."
UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) definition of sustainable tourism, 2004
Why a Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism? Effective change for tomorrow’s tourism
- The tourism industry is an important engine for economic growth. Globally it accounted for 5% of GDP, 6.1% of jobs and 9.4% of investment in 2009. For many countries, it provides a significant source of foreign exchange and foreign direct investment. If managed sustainably, tourism can help conserve the natural and cultural heritage, produce wealth and help distribute it fairly, empower the disadvantaged and engender infrastructure development. It can serve as a vehicle for sustainable development by contributing to the establishment of a green economy. Sustainable tourism is not just about averting degradation. It is also about identifying opportunities. To create a new future, effective and operational partnerships must be forged now.
- Many sustainable tourism initiatives have developed useful methodologies and produced examples of best practices. However, they are usually local and often isolated. The multiplier effect is extremely limited. The Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism helps all interested stakeholders make connections that enable them to scale-up and replicate successful initiatives around the world. The Partnership acts as a clearinghouse. It helps identify funding sources for worthy endeavours. And it uses the knowledge garnered from this process to influence public policy at all levels.