What is Sustainable Tourism?
An ever-evolving and rapidly growing industry, there seems to be no place in the world that remains untouched as far as tourism is concerned. Where tourism helps in generating local revenue and also acts as a catalyst in the growth of the local economy, it also prompts concerns that can adversely affect the ecological balance of a destination. This means that if not appropriately managed, tourism may sometimes cause problems that may lead to environmental issues, and that may, in turn, negatively impact the local communities. With global sustainability goals in mind and analyzing the impacts of climate change on the environment, substantial changes are being brought about in the way the whole tourism industry functions. Bringing about sustainability has become one of the major defining factors of tourism in the present times. Various measures are taken to conserve the biodiversity of a tourist destination, which includes establishing a proper balance between environmental, social and economic factors of any destination.
We all are aware of how does cutting down trees affect the climate. The aim of sustainable development is achieved by increasing the green cover of the planet and undertaking tree planting initiatives. Many corporate organizations and smaller businesses are also actively working towards promoting sustainable tourism to combat the effects of climate change and promote environmental sustainability.
What is sustainable tourism?
Tourism, an out-and-out people-oriented industry, helps in generating revenues and booming the local economy of a given destination. However, the loss of heritage, social dislocation, ecological degradation, and other such factors can impact the ecology and economy of a place. Sustainable tourism walks along the same path in being an industry that aims to generate employment opportunities for local people while ensuring that adverse impacts on the environment and local communities are negligible. In simple words, sustainable tourism involves taking into account any probable or possible impacts of tourism on the present and future social, environmental and economic structure of a place and it includes taking measures to conserve the biodiversity and cultural heritage of that place. The whole idea of sustainable tourism is that it aims to ensure sustainable development goals that have a positive impact on locals, tourists and tourism companies.
Aims and objectives of sustainable tourism
Sustainable tourism is not only about implementing sustainability practices in place but also aiming to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction. In lieu of global goals for sustainable development, sustainable tourism has a considerable role to play. Here is a lowdown of certain goals that can be achieved:
Preserve and conserve the sanctity of a place
This involves appreciating the sanctity and purity of the environment and making efforts in reducing any kind of pollution, including air, water, and sound amongst others.
Preserve the biodiversity
Efforts must be taken to reduce the impact on the ecological balance of the place that may directly or indirectly affect the wildlife or natural surroundings.
Optimally utilize the available resources
Both renewable and non-renewable resources should be utilised in the most efficient and effective manner. Also, measures must be taken to encourage the locals and tourists to also optimally reduce misuse and prevent waste.
The tourism industry is on the boom, and this leads to a considerable increase in the scope of employment. One of the aims of sustainable tourism is to generate ample avenues and opportunities for people to get employed.
To create awareness
It is important to educate people and create awareness about the positive impacts of sustainable tourism in protecting our cultural and natural heritage. It is also essential to initiate and pledge personal commitment by adopting various methods of sustainable tourism practices.
Sustainable tourism and its contribution to maintaining ecological balance
Tourism is one of the significant contributors to GDP around the world, and it would be imperative to say that many countries depend on tourism for their economic growth. However, it is also important to essential to understand that this is a complex industry. If managed properly, tourism can get the economy booming, and if not, then it may damage the social systems, damage natural resources, cause pollution and lead to large scale environment destruction. Therefore, to maintain proper harmony between all the above factors, sustainable tourism is the way out!
How to measure the impact of sustainable tourism
Sustainable tourism can help in achieving environmental sustainability while offering climate change solutions. Now, the question arises as to what can be done to establish the impact of sustainable tourism towards managing environmental change? Well, the simplest way of measuring the impact is through setting certain benchmarks. A benchmarking system can not only help in establishing the progress in a specific sector but also acts as a great parameter is comparing performances with other competitors. Some examples include consumption of water per guest per day, energy and electricity usage and various other such benchmarks. With such kinds of parameters in place, sustainable tourism is no longer a rhetorical aim. Businesses can also benefit greatly in setting benchmarks towards contributing to environmental sustainability projects. A few examples of sustainable tourism initiatives from across the world include a solar-powered resort in Fiji, which runs completely on solar power and is also equipped with rainwater harvesting. Another example is Bhutan, also called the “land of controlled tourism”. The country charges high daily tariffs and maintains strict entry to keep the principle of ‘high value, low impact’ intact.
The tourism industry has exploded in the last couple of decades, thanks to the increasing interest in travel and easy access to disposable incomes. However, this sudden expansion is causing a considerable strain on the tourism industry as well as disrupting the ecological balance of a destination. Sustainable tourism is a boon that can help in controlling and minimizing the ill-effects of tourism on the social, economic and environmental aspects. Also, brownie points for you, if you have a business or own a corporate house since sustainable tourism might work in your favor to help you contribute towards sustainability. Joining hands with an organization like EcoMatcher that promotes corporate tree planting for sustainability can only work as a boon. A platform like this that can not only help in reforestation to combat climate change but can also offer various avenues in initiating both employee and customer interest towards global goals for sustainable development.