Sustainable Tourism: The importance of responsible and eco-friendly travel

Sustainable Tourism: The importance of responsible and eco-friendly travel

Sustainable tourism embraces concerns for environmental protection, social equity, and the quality of life, cultural diversity, and a dynamic, viable economy delivering jobs and prosperity for all.

Tourism is a huge part of our global culture, allowing us to explore different parts of the world, meet people from different walks of life, and experience new traditions and activities. Since it brings many benefits to both travellers and communities, it can generally be seen as a force for good. However, the industry is changing. As the years go by, we’re becoming more and more aware of the threat of climate change and our role in escalating it. Across all industries, our global community is thinking about ways we can lessen our impact on the earth.

This is where sustainable tourism comes into play. Sustainable tourism covers the complete tourism experience, including concern for economic, social and environ<strong>Impact of Global Plastic trade: Call for a better and sustainable environment</strong><strong>Impact of Global Plastic trade: Call for a better and sustainable environment</strong>mental issues as well as attention to improving tourists’ experiences. The concept of sustainable tourism aims to reduce the negative effects of tourism activities. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation emphasized these practices by promoting sustainable tourism as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, through programs like the international year for sustainable tourism for development in 2017. There is a direct link between sustainable tourism and several of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Goal of Sustainable Tourism

The ultimate goal of sustainable tourism is to reduce the impact of tourism on local communities and the environment. This means making optimal use of resources to avoid over-consumption, helping with the conservation of the natural world and making a conscious effort to respect local traditions and heritage, and contributing to their preservation. A major objective linked to sustainable tourism is making the long-term future of travel more viable and this is achieved through education and behavioural changes. Additionally, sustainable tourism aims to provide economic and social benefits for local communities, resulting in more of a mutually beneficial ‘give and take’ relationship.

Importance of Sustainable Tourism

The concept of sustainable tourism is incredibly important because while travel can generate economic benefits for a local area and provide jobs for those in the industry, it can also have negative consequences, including over-use of resources, displacement of wildlife and damage to local culture, all while contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

As tourism is expected to continue to grow in the years ahead, current tourism habits are going to become unsustainable, because they are causing too much harm to the environment, local communities and the earth’s natural resources. This makes sustainable travel essential for the long-term viability of the tourism industry as a whole.

By prioritising sustainable tourism, governments, travel companies, airlines, hotels, restaurants and travellers can all help to ensure tourism is still possible in the years to come. When steps are taken to provide benefits for locals and minimise the harm caused by tourism, it becomes a force for good in the world. Here are some of the main responsibilities of sustainable tourism:

  1. Protecting the environment, natural resources, and wildlife
  2. Providing socio-economic benefits for communities who live in tourist destinations
  3. Conserving cultural heritage and creating authentic tourist experiences
  4. Bringing tourists and local communities together for mutual benefit 
  5. Creating inclusive and accessible tourist opportunities.

Ecotourism vs sustainable tourism

Both these terms are interchangeably used but they have their respective significance. While sustainable tourism is about creating travel opportunities with minimal impact and positive benefits for destinations and their communities, ecotourism is more focused on educating tourists about nature and the environment, and travellers taking part in conservation and cultural activities. While ecotourism should always be sustainable, not all examples of sustainable tourism are ecotourism

. For example, you might take a train to stay in a sustainably powered lodge. While this is a sustainable option, you’re not necessarily learning about nature and your local surroundings in an educational sense.

Responsible tourism vs Sustainable Tourism

The concepts of sustainable tourism and responsible tourism are closely linked, to such an extent that they are often used interchangeably. However, there are some differences between the two ideas and it can be helpful to get to grips with what separates the two terms, as well as what unites them. Sustainable tourism is heavily focused on the long-term sustainability of the tourism industry, so that current needs do not compromise the needs of future generations. Responsibility is shared between political leaders, tourism companies and other stakeholders. Responsible travel, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with the ways individuals interact with the destinations they visit and the focus is generally on people making behavioural changes.

  • Gulgul Saha

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