What Is Sustainable Tourism and Why Is It Important?

Sustainable management and socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental impacts are the four pillars of sustainable tourism

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What Makes Tourism Sustainable?

The role of tourists, types of sustainable tourism.

Sustainable tourism considers its current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts by addressing the needs of its ecological surroundings and the local communities. This is achieved by protecting natural environments and wildlife when developing and managing tourism activities, providing only authentic experiences for tourists that don’t appropriate or misrepresent local heritage and culture, or creating direct socioeconomic benefits for local communities through training and employment.

As people begin to pay more attention to sustainability and the direct and indirect effects of their actions, travel destinations and organizations are following suit. For example, the New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment is aiming to see every New Zealand tourism business committed to sustainability by 2025, while the island country of Palau has required visitors to sign an eco pledge upon entry since 2017.

Tourism industries are considered successfully sustainable when they can meet the needs of travelers while having a low impact on natural resources and generating long-term employment for locals. By creating positive experiences for local people, travelers, and the industry itself, properly managed sustainable tourism can meet the needs of the present without compromising the future.

What Is Sustainability?

At its core, sustainability focuses on balance — maintaining our environmental, social, and economic benefits without using up the resources that future generations will need to thrive. In the past, sustainability ideals tended to lean towards business, though more modern definitions of sustainability highlight finding ways to avoid depleting natural resources in order to keep an ecological balance and maintain the quality of environmental and human societies.

Since tourism impacts and is impacted by a wide range of different activities and industries, all sectors and stakeholders (tourists, governments, host communities, tourism businesses) need to collaborate on sustainable tourism in order for it to be successful.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) , which is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of sustainable tourism, and the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) , the global standard for sustainable travel and tourism, have similar opinions on what makes tourism sustainable. By their account, sustainable tourism should make the best use of environmental resources while helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity, respect the socio-culture of local host communities, and contribute to intercultural understanding. Economically, it should also ensure viable long-term operations that will provide benefits to all stakeholders, whether that includes stable employment to locals, social services, or contributions to poverty alleviation.

The GSTC has developed a series of criteria to create a common language about sustainable travel and tourism. These criteria are used to distinguish sustainable destinations and organizations, but can also help create sustainable policies for businesses and government agencies. Arranged in four pillars, the global baseline standards include sustainable management, socioeconomic impact, cultural impacts, and environmental impacts.

Travel Tip:

The GSTC is an excellent resource for travelers who want to find sustainably managed destinations and accommodations and learn how to become a more sustainable traveler in general.


Protecting natural environments is the bedrock of sustainable tourism. Data released by the World Tourism Organization estimates that tourism-based CO2 emissions are forecast to increase 25% by 2030. In 2016, tourism transport-related emissions contributed to 5% of all man-made emissions, while transport-related emissions from long-haul international travel were expected to grow 45% by 2030.

The environmental ramifications of tourism don’t end with carbon emissions, either. Unsustainably managed tourism can create waste problems, lead to land loss or soil erosion, increase natural habitat loss, and put pressure on endangered species . More often than not, the resources in these places are already scarce, and sadly, the negative effects can contribute to the destruction of the very environment on which the industry depends.

Industries and destinations that want to be sustainable must do their part to conserve resources, reduce pollution, and conserve biodiversity and important ecosystems. In order to achieve this, proper resource management and management of waste and emissions is important. In Bali, for example, tourism consumes 65% of local water resources, while in Zanzibar, tourists use 15 times as much water per night as local residents.

Another factor to environmentally focused sustainable tourism comes in the form of purchasing: Does the tour operator, hotel, or restaurant favor locally sourced suppliers and products? How do they manage their food waste and dispose of goods? Something as simple as offering paper straws instead of plastic ones can make a huge dent in an organization’s harmful pollutant footprint.

Recently, there has been an uptick in companies that promote carbon offsetting . The idea behind carbon offsetting is to compensate for generated greenhouse gas emissions by canceling out emissions somewhere else. Much like the idea that reducing or reusing should be considered first before recycling , carbon offsetting shouldn’t be the primary goal. Sustainable tourism industries always work towards reducing emissions first and offset what they can’t.

Properly managed sustainable tourism also has the power to provide alternatives to need-based professions and behaviors like poaching . Often, and especially in underdeveloped countries, residents turn to environmentally harmful practices due to poverty and other social issues. At Periyar Tiger Reserve in India, for example, an unregulated increase in tourists made it more difficult to control poaching in the area. In response, an eco development program aimed at providing employment for locals turned 85 former poachers into reserve gamekeepers. Under supervision of the reserve’s management staff, the group of gamekeepers have developed a series of tourism packages and are now protecting land instead of exploiting it. They’ve found that jobs in responsible wildlife tourism are more rewarding and lucrative than illegal work.

Flying nonstop and spending more time in a single destination can help save CO2, since planes use more fuel the more times they take off.

Local Culture and Residents

One of the most important and overlooked aspects of sustainable tourism is contributing to protecting, preserving, and enhancing local sites and traditions. These include areas of historical, archaeological, or cultural significance, but also "intangible heritage," such as ceremonial dance or traditional art techniques.

In cases where a site is being used as a tourist attraction, it is important that the tourism doesn’t impede access to local residents. For example, some tourist organizations create local programs that offer residents the chance to visit tourism sites with cultural value in their own countries. A program called “Children in the Wilderness” run by Wilderness Safaris educates children in rural Africa about the importance of wildlife conservation and valuable leadership development tools. Vacations booked through travel site Responsible Travel contribute to the company’s “Trip for a Trip” program, which organizes day trips for disadvantaged youth who live near popular tourist destinations but have never had the opportunity to visit.

Sustainable tourism bodies work alongside communities to incorporate various local cultural expressions as part of a traveler’s experiences and ensure that they are appropriately represented. They collaborate with locals and seek their input on culturally appropriate interpretation of sites, and train guides to give visitors a valuable (and correct) impression of the site. The key is to inspire travelers to want to protect the area because they understand its significance.

Bhutan, a small landlocked country in South Asia, has enforced a system of all-inclusive tax for international visitors since 1997 ($200 per day in the off season and $250 per day in the high season). This way, the government is able to restrict the tourism market to local entrepreneurs exclusively and restrict tourism to specific regions, ensuring that the country’s most precious natural resources won’t be exploited.

Incorporating volunteer work into your vacation is an amazing way to learn more about the local culture and help contribute to your host community at the same time. You can also book a trip that is focused primarily on volunteer work through a locally run charity or non profit (just be sure that the job isn’t taking employment opportunities away from residents).

It's not difficult to make a business case for sustainable tourism, especially if one looks at a destination as a product. Think of protecting a destination, cultural landmark, or ecosystem as an investment. By keeping the environment healthy and the locals happy, sustainable tourism will maximize the efficiency of business resources. This is especially true in places where locals are more likely to voice their concerns if they feel like the industry is treating visitors better than residents.

Not only does reducing reliance on natural resources help save money in the long run, studies have shown that modern travelers are likely to participate in environmentally friendly tourism. In 2019, Booking.com found that 73% of travelers preferred an eco-sustainable hotel over a traditional one and 72% of travelers believed that people need to make sustainable travel choices for the sake of future generations.

Always be mindful of where your souvenirs are coming from and whether or not the money is going directly towards the local economy. For example, opt for handcrafted souvenirs made by local artisans.

Growth in the travel and tourism sectors alone has outpaced the overall global economy growth for nine years in a row. Prior to the pandemic, travel and tourism accounted for an $9.6 trillion contribution to the global GDP and 333 million jobs (or one in four new jobs around the world).

Sustainable travel dollars help support employees, who in turn pay taxes that contribute to their local economy. If those employees are not paid a fair wage or aren’t treated fairly, the traveler is unknowingly supporting damaging or unsustainable practices that do nothing to contribute to the future of the community. Similarly, if a hotel doesn’t take into account its ecological footprint, it may be building infrastructure on animal nesting grounds or contributing to excessive pollution. The same goes for attractions, since sustainably managed spots (like nature preserves) often put profits towards conservation and research.

Costa Rica was able to turn a severe deforestation crisis in the 1980s into a diversified tourism-based economy by designating 25.56% of land protected as either a national park, wildlife refuge, or reserve.

While traveling, think of how you would want your home country or home town to be treated by visitors.

Are You a Sustainable Traveler?

Sustainable travelers understand that their actions create an ecological and social footprint on the places they visit. Be mindful of the destinations , accommodations, and activities you choose, and choose destinations that are closer to home or extend your length of stay to save resources. Consider switching to more environmentally friendly modes of transportation such as bicycles, trains, or walking while on vacation. Look into supporting locally run tour operations or local family-owned businesses rather than large international chains. Don’t engage in activities that harm wildlife, such as elephant riding or tiger petting , and opt instead for a wildlife sanctuary (or better yet, attend a beach clean up or plan an hour or two of some volunteer work that interests you). Leave natural areas as you found them by taking out what you carry in, not littering, and respecting the local residents and their traditions.

Most of us travel to experience the world. New cultures, new traditions, new sights and smells and tastes are what makes traveling so rewarding. It is our responsibility as travelers to ensure that these destinations are protected not only for the sake of the communities who rely upon them, but for a future generation of travelers.

Sustainable tourism has many different layers, most of which oppose the more traditional forms of mass tourism that are more likely to lead to environmental damage, loss of culture, pollution, negative economic impacts, and overtourism.

Ecotourism highlights responsible travel to natural areas that focus on environmental conservation. A sustainable tourism body supports and contributes to biodiversity conservation by managing its own property responsibly and respecting or enhancing nearby natural protected areas (or areas of high biological value). Most of the time, this looks like a financial compensation to conservation management, but it can also include making sure that tours, attractions, and infrastructure don’t disturb natural ecosystems.

On the same page, wildlife interactions with free roaming wildlife should be non-invasive and managed responsibly to avoid negative impacts to the animals. As a traveler, prioritize visits to accredited rescue and rehabilitation centers that focus on treating, rehoming, or releasing animals back into the wild, such as the Jaguar Rescue Center in Costa Rica.

Soft Tourism

Soft tourism may highlight local experiences, local languages, or encourage longer time spent in individual areas. This is opposed to hard tourism featuring short duration of visits, travel without respecting culture, taking lots of selfies , and generally feeling a sense of superiority as a tourist.

Many World Heritage Sites, for example, pay special attention to protection, preservation, and sustainability by promoting soft tourism. Peru’s famed Machu Picchu was previously known as one of the world’s worst victims of overtourism , or a place of interest that has experienced negative effects (such as traffic or litter) from excessive numbers of tourists. The attraction has taken steps to control damages in recent years, requiring hikers to hire local guides on the Inca Trail, specifying dates and time on visitor tickets to negate overcrowding, and banning all single use plastics from the site.

Traveling during a destination’s shoulder season , the period between the peak and low seasons, typically combines good weather and low prices without the large crowds. This allows better opportunities to immerse yourself in a new place without contributing to overtourism, but also provides the local economy with income during a normally slow season.

Rural Tourism

Rural tourism applies to tourism that takes place in non-urbanized areas such as national parks, forests, nature reserves, and mountain areas. This can mean anything from camping and glamping to hiking and WOOFing. Rural tourism is a great way to practice sustainable tourism, since it usually requires less use of natural resources.

Community Tourism

Community-based tourism involves tourism where local residents invite travelers to visit their own communities. It sometimes includes overnight stays and often takes place in rural or underdeveloped countries. This type of tourism fosters connection and enables tourists to gain an in-depth knowledge of local habitats, wildlife, and traditional cultures — all while providing direct economic benefits to the host communities. Ecuador is a world leader in community tourism, offering unique accommodation options like the Sani Lodge run by the local Kichwa indigenous community, which offers responsible cultural experiences in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest.

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" 45 Arrivals Every Second ." The World Counts.

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Kutty, Govindan M., and T.K. Raghavan Nair. " Periyar Tiger Reserve: Poachers Turned Gamekeepers ." Food and Agriculture Organization.

" GSTC Destination Criteria ." Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Rinzin, Chhewang, et al. " Ecotourism as a Mechanism for Sustainable Development: the Case of Bhutan ." Environmental Sciences , vol. 4, no. 2, 2007, pp. 109-125, doi:10.1080/15693430701365420

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Sustainable tourism

Related sdgs, promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable ....

sustainable tourism importance



Tourism is one of the world's fastest growing industries and an important source of foreign exchange and employment, while being closely linked to the social, economic, and environmental well-being of many countries, especially developing countries. Maritime or ocean-related tourism, as well as coastal tourism, are for example vital sectors of the economy in small island developing States (SIDS) and coastal least developed countries (LDCs) (see also: The Potential of the Blue Economy report as well as the Community of Ocean Action on sustainable blue economy).

The World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism as “tourism 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".

Based on General assembly resolution 70/193, 2017 was declared as the  International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development SDG target 8.9, aims to “by 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”. The importance of sustainable tourism is also highlighted in SDG target 12.b. which aims to “develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”.

Tourism is also identified as one of the tools to “by 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries” as comprised in SDG target 14.7.

In the Rio+20 outcome document The Future We want, sustainable tourism is defined by paragraph 130 as a significant contributor “to the three dimensions of sustainable development” thanks to its close linkages to other sectors and its ability to create decent jobs and generate trade opportunities. Therefore, Member States recognize “the need to support sustainable tourism activities and relevant capacity-building that promote environmental awareness, conserve and protect the environment, respect wildlife, flora, biodiversity, ecosystems and cultural diversity, and improve the welfare and livelihoods of local communities by supporting their local economies and the human and natural environment as a whole. ” In paragraph 130, Member States also “call for enhanced support for sustainable tourism activities and relevant capacity-building in developing countries in order to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development”.

In paragraph 131, Member States “encourage the promotion of investment in sustainable tourism, including eco-tourism and cultural tourism, which may include creating small- and medium-sized enterprises and facilitating access to finance, including through microcredit initiatives for the poor, indigenous peoples and local communities in areas with high eco-tourism potential”. In this regard, Member States also “underline the importance of establishing, where necessary, appropriate guidelines and regulations in accordance with national priorities and legislation for promoting and supporting sustainable tourism”.

In 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg called for the promotion of sustainable tourism development, including non-consumptive and eco-tourism, in Chapter IV, paragraph 43 of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

At the Johannesburg Summit, the launch of the “Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) initiative was announced. The initiative was inaugurated by the World Tourism Organization, in collaboration with UNCTAD, in order to develop sustainable tourism as a force for poverty alleviation.

The UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) last reviewed the issue of sustainable tourism in 2001, when it was acting as the Preparatory Committee for the Johannesburg Summit.

The importance of sustainable tourism was also mentioned in Agenda 21.

For more information and documents on this topic,  please visit this link

UNWTO Annual Report 2015

2015 was a landmark year for the global community. In September, the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal agenda for planet and people. Among the 17 SDGs and 169 associated targets, tourism is explicitly featured in Goa...

UNWTO Annual Report 2016

In December 2015, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. This is a unique opportunity to devote a year to activities that promote the transformational power of tourism to help us reach a better future. This important cele...

Emerging Issues for Small Island Developing States

The 2012 UNEP Foresight Process on Emerging Global Environmental Issues primarily identified emerging environmental issues and possible solutions on a global scale and perspective. In 2013, UNEP carried out a similar exercise to identify priority emerging environmental issues that are of concern to ...

Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

This Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom, We recognize that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for su...

15 Years of the UNWTO World Tourism Network on Child Protection: A Compilation of Good Practices

Although it is widely recognized that tourism is not the cause of child exploitation, it can aggravate the problem when parts of its infrastructure, such as transport networks and accommodation facilities, are exploited by child abusers for nefarious ends. Additionally, many other factors that contr...

Towards Measuring the Economic Value of Wildlife Watching Tourism in Africa

Set against the backdrop of the ongoing poaching crisis driven by a dramatic increase in the illicit trade in wildlife products, this briefing paper intends to support the ongoing efforts of African governments and the broader international community in the fight against poaching. Specifically, this...

Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012

Previous Caribbean assessments lumped data together into a single database regardless of geographic location, reef environment, depth, oceanographic conditions, etc. Data from shallow lagoons and back reef environments were combined with data from deep fore-reef environments and atolls. Geographic c...

Natural Resources Forum: Special Issue Tourism

The journal considers papers on all topics relevant to sustainable development. In addition, it dedicates series, issues and special sections to specific themes that are relevant to the current discussions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)....

Thailand: Supporting Sustainable Development in Thailand: A Geographic Clusters Approach

Market forces and government policies, including the Tenth National Development Plan (2007-2012), are moving Thailand toward a more geographically specialized economy. There is a growing consensus that Thailand’s comparative and competitive advantages lie in amenity services that have high reliance...

Road Map on Building a Green Economy for Sustainable Development in Carriacou and Petite Martinique, Grenada

This publication is the product of an international study led by the Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) in cooperation with the Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs and the Ministry of Environment, Foreig...

Natural Resources Forum, a United Nations Sustainable Development Journal (NRF)

  Natural Resources Forum, a United Nations Sustainable Development Journal, seeks to address gaps in current knowledge and stimulate relevant policy discussions, leading to the implementation of the sustainable development agenda and the achievement of the Sustainable...

UN Ocean Conference 2025

Our Ocean, Our Future, Our Responsibility “The ocean is fundamental to life on our planet and to our future. The ocean is an important source of the planet’s biodiversity and plays a vital role in the climate system and water cycle. The ocean provides a range of ecosystem services, supplies us with

UN Ocean Conference 2022

The UN Ocean Conference 2022, co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal, came at a critical time as the world was strengthening its efforts to mobilize, create and drive solutions to realize the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

58th Session of the Commission for Social Development – CSocD58

22nd general assembly of the united nations world tourism organization, world tourism day 2017 official celebration.

This year’s World Tourism Day, held on 27 September, will be focused on Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development. Celebrated in line with the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, the Day will be dedicated to exploring the contribution of tourism to the Sustainable Deve

World Tourism Day 2016 Official Celebration

Accessible Tourism for all is about the creation of environments that can cater for the needs of all of us, whether we are traveling or staying at home. May that be due to a disability, even temporary, families with small children, or the ageing population, at some point in our lives, sooner or late

4th Global Summit on City Tourism

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Regional Council for Tourism of Marrakesh with support of the Government of Morroco are organizing the 4th Global Summit on City Tourism in Marrakesh, Morroco (9-10 December 2015). International experts in city tourism, representatives of city DMOs, of

2nd Euro-Asian Mountain Resorts Conference

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Ulsan Metropolitan City with support of the Government of the Republic of Korea are organizing the 2nd Euro-Asian Mountain Resorts Conference, in Ulsan, Republic of Korea (14 - 16 October 2015). Under the title “Paving the Way for a Bright Future for Mounta

21st General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization

Unwto regional conference enhancing brand africa - fostering tourism development.

Tourism is one of the Africa’s most promising sectors in terms of development, and represents a major opportunity to foster inclusive development, increase the region’s participation in the global economy and generate revenues for investment in other activities, including environmental preservation.

  • January 2017 International Year of Tourism In the context of the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the International Year aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behavior towards a more sustainable tourism sector that can contribute to the SDGs.
  • January 2015 Targets 8.9, 12 b,14.7 The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development commits Member States, through Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.9 to “devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”. The importance of sustainable tourism, as a driver for jobs creation and the promotion of local culture and products, is also highlighted in Sustainable Development Goal target 12.b. Tourism is also identified as one of the tools to “increase [by 2030] the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries”, through Sustainable Development Goals Target 14.7.
  • January 2012 Future We Want (Para 130-131) Sustainable tourism is defined as a significant contributor “to the three dimensions of sustainable development” thanks to its close linkages to other sectors and its ability to create decent jobs and generate trade opportunities. Therefore, Member States recognize “the need to support sustainable tourism activities and relevant capacity-building that promote environmental awareness, conserve and protect the environment, respect wildlife, flora, biodiversity, ecosystems and cultural diversity, and improve the welfare and livelihoods of local communities” as well as to “encourage the promotion of investment in sustainable tourism, including eco-tourism and cultural tourism, which may include creating small and medium sized enterprises and facilitating access to finance, including through microcredit initiatives for the poor, indigenous peoples and local communities in areas with high eco-tourism potential”.
  • January 2009 Roadmap for Recovery UNWTO announced in March 2009 the elaboration of a Roadmap for Recovery to be finalized by UNWTO’s General Assembly, based on seven action points. The Roadmap includes a set of 15 recommendations based on three interlocking action areas: resilience, stimulus, green economy aimed at supporting the tourism sector and the global economy.
  • January 2008 Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria The Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria represent the minimum requirements any tourism business should observe in order to ensure preservation and respect of the natural and cultural resources and make sure at the same time that tourism potential as tool for poverty alleviation is enforced. The Criteria are 41 and distributed into four different categories: 1) sustainability management, 2) social and economic 3) cultural 4) environmental.
  • January 2003 WTO becomes a UN specialized body By Resolution 453 (XV), the Assembly agreed on the transformation of the WTO into a United Nations specialized body. Such transformation was later ratified by the United Nations General Assembly with the adoption of Resolution A/RES/58/232.
  • January 2003 1st Int. Conf. on Climate Change and Tourism The conference was organized in order to gather tourism authorities, organizations, businesses and scientists to discuss on the impact that climate change can have on the tourist sector. The event took place from 9 till 11 April 2003 in Djerba, Tunisia.
  • January 2002 World Ecotourism Summit Held in May 2002, in Quebec City, Canada, the Summit represented the most important event in the framework of the International Year of Ecosystem. The Summit identified as main themes: ecotourism policy and planning, regulation of ecotourism, product development, marketing and promotion of ecotourism and monitoring costs and benefits of ecotourism.
  • January 1985 Tourism Bill of Rights and Tourist Code At the World Tourism Organization Sixth Assembly held in Sofia in 1985, the Tourism Bill of Rights and Tourist Code were adopted, setting out the rights and duties of tourists and host populations and formulating policies and action for implementation by states and the tourist industry.
  • January 1982 Acapulco Document Adopted in 1982, the Acapulco Document acknowledges the new dimension and role of tourism as a positive instrument towards the improvement of the quality of life for all peoples, as well as a significant force for peace and international understanding. The Acapulco Document also urges Member States to elaborate their policies, plans and programmes on tourism, in accordance with their national priorities and within the framework of the programme of work of the World Tourism Organization.

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Coral frames have been placed in the shallows on Baa Atoll in the Republic of Maldive

Coral reforestation helps restore desolated reefs around Landaa Giraavaru Island on Baa Atoll in the Republic of Maldives.

For travelers, sustainability is the word—but there are many definitions of it

Most people want to support sustainable tourism, even though the concept remains fuzzy.

The word “overtourism” is a relatively new term—but its novelty has not diminished the portent of its meaning: “An excessive number of tourist visits to a popular destination or attraction, resulting in damage to the local environment and historical sites and in poorer quality of life for residents,” according to the Oxford Dictionary .  

As travel recovers from pandemic lows, travelers are once again experiencing the consequences of overtourism at enticing, but crowded, destinations. The UN World Tourism Organization, along with public and private sector partners, marks September 27 as World Tourism Day and uses this platform to discuss tourism’s social, political, economic, and environmental impacts.

This day highlights the importance of sustainable tourism —a framework for engaging travelers and the travel industry at large in supporting goals that include protecting the environment, addressing climate change, minimizing plastic consumption , and expanding economic development in communities affected by tourism.

Getting the facts

A National Geographic survey of 3,500 adults in the U.S. reveals strong support for sustainability. That’s the good news—but the challenge will be helping travelers take meaningful actions. According to the survey—which was conducted in 2019—while 42 percent of U.S. travelers would be willing to prioritize sustainable travel in the future, only 15 percent of these travelers are sufficiently familiar with what sustainable travel actually means.  

( Learn about how to turn overtourism into sustainable global tourism .)

In the National Geographic survey, consumers most familiar with sustainable travel are young: 50 percent are 18 to 34 years old. Among travelers who understand the sustainable travel concept, 56 percent acknowledge travel has an impact on local communities and that it’s important to protect natural sites and cultural places.

The survey has informed National Geographic’s experiential travel and media businesses and sparked conversations for creating solutions around sustainability. Our travel content focuses on environmentally friendly practices, protecting cultural and natural heritage, providing social and economic benefits for local communities, and inspiring travelers to become conservation ambassadors. In short, we see every National Geographic traveler as a curious explorer who seeks to build an ethic of conserving all that makes a destination unique.

Building better practices

National Geographic Expeditions operates hundreds of trips each year, spanning all seven continents and more than 80 destinations. Rooted in the National Geographic Society ’s legacy of exploration, the company supports the Society's mission to inspire people to care about the planet by providing meaningful opportunities to explore it. Proceeds from all travel programs support the Society’s efforts to increase global understanding through exploration, education and scientific research.

National Geographic Expeditions offers a range of group travel experiences, including land expeditions, cruises, and active adventures, many of which take place around eco-lodges that are rigorously vetted for their sustainability practices.  

These independent lodges incorporate innovative sustainability practices into their everyday operations, including supporting natural and cultural heritage, sourcing products regionally, and giving back to the local community.

For example, South Africa’s Grootbos Lodge launched a foundation to support the Masakhane Community Farm and Training Centre. Through this program, the lodge has given plots of land to local people who have completed the training, increasing their income and access to local, healthy foods; so far the program has benefitted more than 138 community members.

As a media brand, National Geographic encourages travelers to seek out and support properties that embrace a mission to help protect people and the environment. Not only do these accommodations make direct and meaningful impacts in their own communities, but staying at one helps educate travelers in effective ways to preserve and protect the places they visit.

Supporting sustainability

The travel industry is crucially dependent on the health of local communities, environments, and cultures. As many experts note, we need to invest in the resiliency of places affected by overtourism and climate change to achieve sustainable tourism.

( Should some of the world’s endangered places be off-limits to tourists ?)

National Geographic’s coverage stresses the importance of reducing our carbon footprint and encourages travelers to step off the beaten path and linger longer, respect cultural differences and invest in communities, reconnect with nature and support organizations that are protecting the planet. Here are 12 ways to travel sustainably , reported by our staff editors.

Storytelling can help by highlighting problems brought on by tourism and surfacing practices and technologies to mitigate negative impacts. A key goal of our storytelling mission at National Geographic Travel is to dig deeper into the topic of sustainable tourism and provide resources, practical tips, and destination advice for travelers who seek to explore the world in all its beauty—while leaving behind a lighter footprint.

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Why Sustainable Tourism is Important

We all know that sustainability is not a choice and that we must change a lot to be able to preserve the world’s unique cultures, natural landscapes and attractions for future generations.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the sustainable tourism definition, learn more about the different types of sustainable development in the travel industry, and discuss why sustainable tourism is important.

By the team at Apus Peru, Rainforest Alliance Verified travel specialists.

Table of Contents

The Issue: Why is Sustainable Tourism Important?

Life is all about experiences. And unlike material things, each experience stays with us no matter where we go. Traveling can not only be a meaningful break from our hectic pace of daily life, but also allows us to discover new places and learn from other cultures and traditions.

Nowadays, more people are traveling than ever before, and 53% of global travelers want to travel more sustainably in the future to reduce the negative impact on local cultures and the environment. Tourism is one of the most significant sectors affecting a country’s economy, but what is sustainable tourism and why is it important?

When tourism activity increases, it can bring many sustainable tourism benefits to the travel destination by creating thousands of jobs, developing the infrastructure of a country, and planting a sense of cultural exchange between the local communities and foreigners. Unfortunately, as tourism increases without implementing a concept of sustainable tourism, negative impacts also increase. 

What is Sustainable Tourism?

What does sustainable tourism mean? According to the UNWTO sustainable tourism definition , it describes a tourism in which the needs of today are not placed before the needs of tomorrow. Since travel experiences contain a wide range of different activities and industries, all sectors and stakeholders need to collaborate in order for it to be successful.

The main goal of sustainable tourism is to make the best use of natural resources while having a positive impact on the conservation of natural heritage and biodiversity, the economy and rural communities. This means that a truly responsible tourism should provide more benefits than negative impacts , considering the needs of both visitors and residents of a destination, and resulting in a mutual “give and take” relationship.

Sustainable Tourism Principles

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) established three sustainable tourism principles with the purpose of creating a long-term balance between the environmental, socio-cultural, and economic aspects of sustainable tourism development. The following three principles formulated by the UNWTO are an applicable guideline for all types of tourism providers and segments:

  • Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity .
  • Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.
  • Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.

A successful application of responsible tourism is only possible with the full participation of all relevant touristic actors and a well-organized sustainable tourism management.

The 3 Pillars of Sustainable Tourism

Thinking about what sustainable tourism means, people mostly link it with the preservation of the environment. But that’s only one part of the global sustainable tourism criteria. When you dive into a responsible lifestyle, you will probably come across the three pillars of sustainable tourism, also called the triangle of sustainability.

This model consists of three different aspects: environment, society, and economy. Together the three pillars are meant to work in connection to one another with true sustainability occurring.

The environmental pillar of sustainable tourism

Natural landscapes are one of the main cores of many tourist attractions.

What would a trip to Peru look like without hiking along the high Andes Mountains, visiting famous Machu Picchu, and admiring its unique flora and fauna?

Could you imagine South America without the Amazon rainforest, its biodiverse National Parks, lakes and beautiful beaches?

To ensure that future generations will be able to explore these incredible natural treasures, we must preserve our environment. Not only for future tourists, but also for the vitality of the travel destination itself.

The social pillar of sustainable tourism

The social aspect is another significant sustainable tourism indicator and refers to human capital. The living conditions of locals must be treated with the same priority as the development of tourism. Only when the citizens’ quality of life is improved and the support of locals is guaranteed in areas like education, security, labor conditions and leisure, tourism can develop sustainably.

Every provider in this sector, such as hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and other travel businesses, need to provide fair working conditions for their employees. Ideally, they should also support the local economy by investing in rural projects and education. The sustainable tourism definition implies that local people should never suffer from touristic activities, for example by destroying their heritage or having less fresh water.

The economic pillar of sustainable tourism

Economic sustainability refers to the responsible use of resources and financial profitability of a company. The pursuit of a company’s profit can never influence negatively the other two pillars of sustainable tourism development. While maximizing profits, each business must take into account the social and environmental impacts. Since companies become more aware of the significance of responsible travel, they consider social and local values while establishing their financing strategies. The integration of local institutions is important, so each service benefits sustainable tourism and supports the local economy, creating new jobs and improving the infrastructure.

Types of Sustainable Tourism

To sum up, sustainable tourism is composed of three main principles: socio-cultural justice, economic development , and environmental integrity. However, there are various types of sustainable tourism that are closely linked, to such an extent that they are often mistakenly mixed up. For example, the expression “eco sustainable tourism” implies two slightly different concepts that can be separated into two terms. It can be helpful to learn more about the aspects that these ideas have in common, as well as distinguish them. Most of these tourism concepts oppose the commercial forms of mass tourism that are more likely to increase environmental damage, cultural loss, negative economic impacts, and overtourism. 

Differences Between Sustainable, Eco & Responsible Tourism

Sustainable tourism can be considered a broad umbrella term with several layers, focusing on different aspects of responsible development. As a matter of fact, the sustainable tourism meaning refers to numerous types, such as green tourism, soft tourism, rural tourism, agro-tourism, ecotourism , sustainable tourism, and many more. However, in the tourism sector you can find two main subcategories, which will be explained below: eco tourism and responsible tourism. 

Ecotourism is a niche segment that focuses on tourism in natural regions. According to the UNWTO’s definition , it implies all touristic activities in which the major motivation of visitors is the appreciation of natural environments and cultures. The travel experience itself focuses on experiencing and learning more about nature.

Eco tourism and sustainable tourism both focus on the minimization of negative impacts of the destination’s natural environment, culture and economy, but ecotourism also contains the additional purpose of actively supporting the maintenance of environmental areas and wellbeing of the host communities, involving ecological conservation, interpretation and education. Besides, ecotourism tends to be operated by specialized and locally-oriented companies, providing their services for smaller target groups.

Responsible tourism and sustainable tourism have the same goal. The major difference between both concepts is that, in responsible tourism , the behavior of each individual must take responsibility for sustainable development. Everybody involved in tourism must stand up for the impact of their actions – not only the individual tourist, but also each touristic organization, business, product owner, operator, industrial association and the government. A responsible individual makes decisions based on what is best for the natural environment and host communities in the long term, making sure to contribute to a positive impact during the trip.

A Look Back at Why Sustainable Tourism is Important

The history of sustainable tourism goes back to the early 1990s. For the first time, the debate about negative impacts caused by tourism gained more attention, implying the need for intervention to protect people, economic systems and the environment. Even though the negative effects of tourism were recognized, there were only a few tourism management initiatives, and the need to change the nature of tourism did not seem to be urgent.

Today we know that sustainable tourism for development is essentially needed, and the travel industry is dependent on management of socio-cultural compatibility, the environmental and economic constraints. As the tourism sector is expected to grow continuously, present tourism habits are going to become unsustainable. This makes sustainable tourism marketing an essential asset for the maintenance of tourism.

By prioritizing sustainable travel, governments, travel businesses, airlines, hotels, touristic institutions and tourists can make a change and ensure tourism is still possible in the future. Only when we actively provide benefits and minimize the negative impacts caused by touristic activity, will it become a force for good in the world. Sustainable tourism statistics clearly show that responsible travel must no longer be a niche part of tourism. Eco tourism and sustainable tourism has become increasingly popular throughout the years, and 83% of international travelers believe in the importance of sustainable tourism.

What are the Benefits of Sustainable Tourism?

Learning more about the positive impacts for each actor of the tourism industry helps to find an answer to this complex question. While tourism can harm natural environments, cultures and local communities, it can also provide significant benefits. The sustainable tourism approach has the purpose of maximizing the positives and minimising the negatives, while preserving opportunities for the future.

Very often there are great disagreements between host communities and tour companies due to their conflicting opinions and goals. However, the implementation of a sustainable tourism model creates a dialogue between both parties, building a more beneficial relationship. So, why is sustainable tourism important? And what are the benefits of responsible travel for each touristic actor?

Benefits for Local Communities

One of the greatest economic aspects of sustainable tourism activities is the creation of fair working conditions for local employees. Minimum wages with an adequate level ensure a decent standard of living for local workers and their families, and equitable labor rights ensure health protection and safety for them. In addition to improving the economy of the host country, it also enables an enhanced infrastructure and increased standard of living for locals.

Due to the growing impact of sustainable tourism, travel companies invest in rural projects and collaborations, protecting ecosystems, preventing deforestation, helping conserve energy and water, and much more. Besides, conscious travelers are willing to pay more to support responsible and green tourism, which contributes to the execution of these projects as well. Also, the travel industry can be an incentive to improve education with the implementation of an effective sustainable tourism framework.

Besides, tourism can be a source of cultural preservation and maintenance of traditions. Due to the increased awareness of responsible development, travelers are more interested in learning and getting to know the authentic life of host communities. Thereby local residents identify themselves with their own culture and sustain their cultural heritage, showcasing their traditions and sharing their history.

This phenomenon also leads to encouraging sustainable wildlife interactions and conservation. Community-led tours teach visitors about the ecosystems and wildlife, which raises global awareness about the significance of regional environmental preservation.

Benefits for Tourism Companies

Sustainable tourism companies profit from responsible development as well. Sustainable destinations attract a different type of traveler, who is aware of climate change and wants his or her visit to be a positive impact in the world. This target group is constantly growing and willing to pay a higher price for an authentic and conscious travel experience.

Even though tourism companies must invest a lot in a greener way of travel, they benefit from these sustainable tourism trends. That’s because conscious travelers are less price sensitive and spend around 50% more money during their stay than standard visitors. Besides, they tend to take longer holidays with fewer flights to reduce carbon emissions. This means that sustainability has the advantage of being a competitive differentiator – instead of offering similar services at a similar price, the added value brings greater income, too.

All in all, with sustainable tourism development, tourism companies can establish mutually beneficial relationships with host communities. The happier local workers and communities are, the better is the quality of their provided services, which has a positive impact on the visitor’s experience as paying client.

Benefits for The Individual Traveler

Sustainability is no longer a trend, but a lifestyle embraced by more and more people. Travelers seek to learn more about how to travel sustainably and want to have an authentic experience off-the-beaten-track.

Instead of just exploring touristic highlights, visitors are becoming more conscious of their actions, avoiding mass tourism and appreciating the time they have to the fullest. This change of travel style has a huge positive impact on sustainable tourism.

The quality of the travelers’ experience has been enhancing enormously due to the constantly growing demand for sustainable tourism products. The idea of traveling has changed incredibly – instead of visiting a country for a limited period of time, the individual has the chance to explore a place from the perspective of locals, and at the same time contribute to a better world for future generations.

Sustainable Travel in Peru

Traveling responsibly is a major concern in almost every part of the world. In Peru, one of the most diverse countries worldwide, and with the second largest land area of Amazon rainforest on the planet, the number of sustainable tourism organizations is constantly growing.

There are plenty of sustainable tourism examples in Peru that can offer a life-enriching experience for visitors, as well as an opportunity to help foster positive social, economic and environmental benefits.

Ecotourism in the Amazon Rainforest

Deforestation is the main threat of Peru’s ecosystem, which also shows us why sustainable tourism is important. Farming, logging, mining, oil extraction, and illegal coca farming are negative consequences caused by the travel industry. Mass tourism leads to environmental mishaps like water shortages and mudslides, and affects the Indigenous communities in a negative way.

Regarding the development of sustainable tourism history, the Peruvian Government has been making great progress the last few years, by setting up Natural Park Reserves, such as the Pacaya-Saimiri National Reserve, Tambopata National Reserve, and Manu Biosphere Reserve. 

The Ministry of Environment enforces tourist restrictions and ensures better education about ecotourism in the Amazon for both locals and travelers in order to promote preservation and conservation of these natural environments. With the implementation of responsible management and local projects, the sustainable tourism industry can conserve these areas and bring benefits to the residents of these local communities.

Pachamama as Sustainable Tourism Example

To the Andean communities, Mother Nature (pachamama) and the mountains (apus) are very powerful, which is why they must be nurtured and cared for as well. Locals respect their natural environment and perform traditional ceremonies to show gratitude with the purpose of maintaining balance between nature and human beings, applying the principle of giving and receiving.

Today, many sustainable tourism companies in Peru want to share this spirit of pachamama and offer authentic travel experiences that create a positive impact in this world. Responsible and conscious travelers seek to learn more about the ancient principles of Andean cosmology that they can apply to their own life. Getting back to your roots, living in balance with yourself and your environment is part of a new lifestyle and a trend in sustainable tourism.

Apus Peru: Adventure Travel Specialists

Apus Peru: Adventure Travel Specialists  is a sustainable tourism company specialized in unique outdoor activities and adventure travel.

Founded in 2005, Apus Peru decided to actively make a change and contribute to a greener tourism, committing to keep the three pillars of sustainability in balance by giving back to local communities and investing in community development projects . Apus Peru was also the first trekking operator in Peru to receive independent verification of its sustainability practices by the  Rainforest Alliance .

Unlike so many tour operators, Apus Peru has implemented a sustainable tourism policy that insists on the payment of fair wages and benefits to the locals with whom they work. Apus Peru also donates USD $20.00 per passenger to  Threads of Peru , a social enterprise dedicated to sustaining Andean weaving traditions and providing economic opportunities to Indigenous artisans, constituting about 15% of Threads of Peru’s annual budget.

Challenges for Sustainability in the Tourism Industry

Why is sustainable tourism important?

Worldwide tourism accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions – a significant proportion. And a study published by Nature Climate Change shows that the global tourism industry is rapidly expanding.

This makes the sector a bigger polluter than the construction industry and shows that we urgently need to apply a sustainable tourism concept to make a change. But how to achieve sustainable tourism?

It seems to be almost impossible to convert theory into praxis – we have heard enough ideas about sustainable tourism planning but not enough proven advice on how all these models work in real life. For travel to be greener, a lot more must be done than just defining a theoretical approach on how to keep these 3 pillars of sustainable tourism in balance.

Governments and travel institutions need better communication and effective implementation of a sustainable tourism plan at international, national and regional level. Our current travel behavior is unsustainable despite the progress and positive development – managing sustainable tourism is not an easy task at all.

Is Sustainable Travel Possible?

Coming back to the question of why sustainable tourism is important, it is obvious that tourism, as a resource-dependent industry, needs to take responsibility in order to be available for future generations.

One of the greatest sustainable tourism challenges is the successful implementation of theory, which can only be managed with continuous monitoring of tourism impacts, strong political leadership and efficient coordination between all touristic stakeholders. There are no one-size fits all solutions, as the application of sustainable tourism models always vary, depending on the diverse features of sustainable tourism destinations. 

It is certain that we cannot achieve complete sustainability, but we can certainly try to constantly improve, step by step, increasing our positive impact on this planet. Adopting a sustainable tourism strategy is an essential action for tourism to succeed, and there are so many opportunities for it to develop and grow into something more beneficial for visitors, locals and the whole world.

Everybody has the power to become more responsible and make their contribution to positive change.

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What Sustainable Tourism Is + Why It Is The Most Important Consideration Right Now

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Sustainable tourism- have you heard of this term? Probably. That’s because the term ‘sustainability’ has become one of the most commonly used ‘buzzwords’ in contemporary society. But in reality, sustainable tourism is much more than the latest trend…

Today I am going to talk to you about the most important thing in travel- sustainability. While there are companies who claim to be ‘sustainable’ in order to achieve good PR and greenwashing happens more often than any of us wish to admit, the reality is that sustainability is literally a matter of life and death.

As highlighted by Guru David Attenborough, amongst many others, if we continue to act in the way that we are, the planet will not survive. And on a smaller scale and in a somewhat shorter time frame, if we continue to holiday in the way that we have been, tourism will not survive.

Sustainable tourism is not a choice, we have no choice- it MUST happen. And in this article I am going to tell you what this means for tourism industry workers, industry stakeholders and us- the tourists .

What is sustainable tourism?

Sustainable tourism definitions

Why is sustainable tourism important?

The principles of sustainable tourism

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Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing and  most important industries  and is a major source of income for many countries. However, like other forms of development, tourism can also cause its share of problems.

Sustainable tourism, therefore, relies on the premise of taking care of the environment , society and the economy . Sustainable tourism principles intend to minimise the negative impacts of tourism, whilst maximising the positive impacts. However, this if often easier said than done.

A large majority of global travellers (87 percent) say that they want to travel sustainably, according to the Sustainable Travel Report released by Booking.com. But what does sustainable tourism actually mean and are we really being sustainable?

sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism is a tourism form which has received significant attention in recent years, both by the media and the academic community. If you Google the term ‘sustainable tourism’ over 270,000,000 results are returned- that’s a lot!

The body of literature addressing sustainable practices in tourism has expanded exponentially. In fact, there is so much information on the concept of sustainable tourism nowadays that you take take an entire travel and tourism degree focussed on the sustainability management issues!

Sustainable tourism

One of the earliest and most regarded definitions of sustainable tourism was published in  The Brundtland Report , where it was defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

This sums it up pretty well to me. Think about it- if everyone (industry workers, government, tourists etc) continues to act in the way that they have been, will our grandchildren or great grandchildren have the same opportunities that we have had? For example, if litter is dropped on the beach and not cleared up, then future tourists will not want to visit that beach .

And if economic leakage is not controlled (i.e. when money spent by tourists leaves the country as a result of foreign owned businesses, imported produce etc) then the local people will see little or no benefits of the tourism and may become unwilling to work in the sector or even become antagonised by it. You see where I am going with this?

Another key definition of sustainable tourism is that of The United Nations World Tourism Organisation who state that sustainable tourism is “tourism 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”.

According to the The United Nations World Tourism Organisation , sustainable tourism should:

  • Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.
  • Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.
  • Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.

As I pointed out, there is a wide breadth of tourism literature available in today’s market. Some of my favourite academic texts include Managing Sustainable Tourism by David Edgell and Sustainable Tourism by David Weaver. You can also find a wide range of research papers on Google Scholar .

What is responsible tourism?

Sustainable tourism influences positive movements that in return will create successful development by following strategies that allow the positive impacts to outweigh negative impacts.

As you can see from the graph below, the tourism industry is predicted to continue growing at a rapid rate. This means that any negative impacts caused as a result of tourism will also grow, thus indicating an urgent need for these to be carefully managed and mitigated through sustainable tourism practices.

sustainable tourism importance

From the depths of the Amazon jungle to the Australian outback, there are few places in the world that have escaped the burgeoning growth of the travel and tourism industry. Unfortunately, in many cases, this has come at the expense of natural resources, local economies and indigenous populations.

A few years ago I visited a place called Dahab on my travels through Egypt , because I wanted visit the ‘Sharm el Sheik of 30 years ago. I plan to visit the ‘Thailand of days past’ by travelling to Myanmar and I chose the ‘less trodden’ path when climbing Mount Kilimanjaro .

Areas untouched by tourism are becoming more difficult to find. But more worryingly, areas that are untainted or undamaged by tourism are also becoming less common.

If we want to preserve the very things that it is we are going to see (the beach, the mountain, the wildlife etc), then we need to behave responsibly and sustainably.

Principles of sustainable tourism

T he Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Tourism Concern (1991) outline 10 principles for sustainable tourism. These are outlined below:

  • Using resources sustainably.  The conservation and sustainable use of resources- natural, social and cultural – is crucial and makes long-term business sense.
  • Reducing over-consumption and waste.  Reduction of over-consumption and waste avoids the costs of restoring long-term environmental damage and contributes to the quality of tourism.
  • Maintaining biodiversity.  Maintaining and promoting natural, social and cultural diversity is essential for long-term sustainable tourism and creates a resilient base for the industry.
  • Integrating tourism into planning.  Tourism development which is integrated into a national and local strategic planning framework and which undertake environmental impact assessments increases the long-term viability of tourism.
  • Supporting local economies.  Tourism that supports a wide range of local economic activities and which takes environmental costs and values into account, both protects these economies and avoids environmental damage.
  • Involving local communities.  The full involvement of local communities in the tourism sector not only benefits them and the environment in general but also improves the quality of the tourism experience.
  • Consulting stakeholders and the public.  Consulting between the tourism industry and local communities, organizations and institutions are essential if they are to work alongside each other and resolve potential conflicts of interest.
  • Training staff.  Staff training which integrates sustainable tourism into work practices, along with recruitment of personnel at all levels, improves the quality of the tourism product.
  • Marketing tourism responsibly.  Marketing that provides tourists with the full and responsible information increases respect for the natural, social and cultural environments of destination areas and enhances customer satisfaction.
  • Undertaking research.  Ongoing research and monitoring by the industry using effective data collection and analysis are essential to help solve problems and to bring benefits to destinations, the industry, and consumers.

Benefits of sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism has many, many benefits. In fact, many would argue that implementing sustainable tourism is not a choice at all, it is essential. But to summarise, here are the key advantages of sustainable tourism:

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Sustainable tourism promotes the conservation and protection of natural resources and biodiversity, reducing the negative impacts of tourism on the environment. It also encourages the use of eco-friendly transportation and accommodations, reducing carbon footprint and other pollutants.

Sustainable tourism can contribute to poverty reduction by creating job opportunities and income for local communities. It also promotes cultural understanding and respect by engaging tourists in local cultures and traditions.

This type of tourism can be a profitable and economically viable industry, contributing to economic growth and development. It supports local businesses and economies by promoting local products and services.

Sustainable tourism can help to preserve natural and cultural heritage sites for future generations by promoting responsible tourism practices and supporting conservation efforts.

Sustainable tourism can raise awareness and educate people about environmental and social issues, and encourage behaviour change towards more sustainable practices. It also provides educational opportunities for tourists to learn about local cultures and traditions.

  • Sustainable tourism can lead to a more meaningful and authentic travel experience for tourists, as they can engage with local communities and cultures in a responsible way.

Overall, sustainable tourism can benefit both tourists and local communities by promoting responsible and sustainable tourism practices that respect the environment, society, and economy.

Disadvantages of sustainable tourism

Virtual tourism

While sustainable tourism has many benefits, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider. These include:

Sustainable tourism often requires more investments in eco-friendly technologies and practices, which can increase the costs for tourism businesses and potentially make it more expensive for tourists.

Sustainable tourism often requires limiting the number of tourists to reduce negative impacts on the environment and local communities, which can limit the economic benefits for tourism businesses and potentially reduce access for some tourists.

Sustainable tourism practices may require limiting the development of tourism infrastructure in certain areas to protect natural and cultural heritage sites, which can limit economic growth and development opportunities for local communities.

Sustainable tourism may require changes in local cultural practices and traditions to accommodate the needs of tourists, which can potentially lead to the loss of cultural erosion and loss of heritage.

Sustainable tourism practices can vary widely across destinations and tourism businesses, which can lead to inconsistencies in quality and standardisation, potentially reducing the overall effectiveness of sustainable tourism practices.

Ever heard of the term ‘easier said than done’? Sustainable tourism can be difficult to implement and manage, requiring partnerships between different stakeholders and long-term planning and management.

It’s important to note, however, that these potential disadvantages can be mitigated through careful tourism planning , collaboration, and monitoring to ensure that sustainable tourism practices are effective and beneficial for all stakeholders involved.

Examples of sustainable tourism

It’s not difficult to be a sustainable tourist , the biggest problem is a general lack of awareness amongst many tourists. If you want to learn more about how to be a sustainable traveller I recommend this book- How to be a highly Sustainable Tourist: A Guidebook for the Conscientious Traveller .

There are so many wonderful examples of sustainable tourism throughout the world! I have visited a few and I have lots more on my bucket list. Here are a few of my favourite examples.

My first example of sustainable tourism is Footsteps Ecolodge, which I visited back in 2010.

David, the Founder of Footsteps Ecolodge expresses how when he took a relatively cheap trip to The Gambia, he discovered that the staff at his booked hotel were only earning on average £1 per day. David felt guilty for enjoying a holiday knowing that the locals were receiving little or no economic benefits at all from hosting him.

David went on to develop Footsteps Ecolodge, with a mission to improve The Gambia’s trade through responsible tourism and therefore encourages sustainable development. In fact, one of his goals has led footsteps to employ only from the local village and buy only local produce.

I loved visiting this ecolodge. It has many environmentally friendly initiatives, ranging from solar powered electricity to composting toilets. It is based far away from the main tourist areas, providing a unique and authentic holiday experience. After spending a few days in the main tourist resort of Kotu, I was happy to exchange the evening chatter in the restaurants for the humming of grasshoppers and the beach bar music for the gentle sounds of waves.

You can read more on David’s story and the story behind Footsteps Ecolodge here.

The Eden Project is another great example of sustainable tourism.

It was built to demonstrate the importance of plants to people and to promote the understanding of vital relationships between plants and people. It is a huge complex that welcomes a wide range of tourists from the UK and overseas. In 2017, the project attracted more than o ne million visitors.

The project in fact has annual sustainability reports, monitoring its sustainable impact year on year.

Reality Tours and Travel’s mission is to provide authentic and thought-provoking local experiences through their tours and to use the profits to create change in Indian communities.

Reality Tours and Travel is a social catalyst and works towards profit sharing programs. 80% of their profits go directly to Reality Gives which runs high quality education programs in areas where their tours work.

Reality Tours and Travel now welcomes over 15,000 guests each year and employs over 50 members of staff.

The Dolphin Discovery Centre begun when Mrs Evelyn Smith begun to feed a group of dolphins near her home. Following her discovery of the dolphin grouping, specialists were brought in to monitor and study the local dolphins.

A few years later, the Dolphin Discovery Centre allowed tourists and community members to interact with the dolphins in hope they would understand and enjoy the marine mammals.

In brief, the Dolphin Discovery Centre Adopt a Dolphin Program supports the conservation of dolphins and the broader marine environment.

To date, the Dolphin Discovery Centre not only conserves dolphins, the centre also conserves turtles too. Learn more on adopting a dolphin or turtle with the Dolphin Discovery Centre here.

Ranch Margot is exactly what it sounds, a ranch located in Costa Rica. It all begun in 2004 when the founder of Rancho Margot, Juan Sostheim, purchased 400 acres of pasture. Despite the land being cleared of all vegetation, Juan Sostheim had a vision to grow sustainable food and raising animals.

Today, Rancho Margot focuses specifically on sustainable production and living, from the food they delivery to their energy production and the transportation used. Read more on Rancho Margot here.

Rancho Margot’s sustainable mission is in keeping with the Brundtland Report.

“To achieve and maintain sustainable operations, we work to find better ways to satisfy our needs without compromising future generations​”

Whilst I didn’t get a chance got visit Rancho Margot during our travels through Costa Rica , it does look like a fantastic place to go and a great example of sustainable tourism.

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So now that we understand a bit more about what sustainable tourism is and what it looks like in practice, lets re-cap the key points that we have covered in this article.

Sustainable tourism is an approach to tourism that seeks to minimise negative impacts on the environment, society, and economy, while maximising the positive impacts.

  • Sustainable tourism can help to preserve natural and cultural heritage sites, and contribute to poverty reduction by creating job opportunities and income for local communities.
  • Sustainable tourism promotes responsible travel practices, such as respecting local cultures, conserving natural resources, and reducing carbon footprint.
  • Sustainable tourism requires partnerships between different stakeholders, including governments, local communities, NGOs, and private sector businesses.
  • Sustainable tourism involves long-term planning and management to ensure that the benefits of tourism are sustainable over time.
  • Sustainable tourism can be a profitable and economically viable industry that contributes to economic growth and development.
  • Sustainable tourism can help to raise awareness about environmental and social issues, and encourage behavior change towards more sustainable practices.
  • Sustainable tourism can support the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services, which are crucial for the health of the planet and human well-being.
  • Sustainable tourism is not just a trend or a buzzword, but a necessity for the future of tourism and the planet.

Now lets finish up this article about sustainable tourism by answering some of the most common questions on this topic.

Sustainable tourism is important because it can help to preserve natural and cultural heritage sites, contribute to poverty reduction, promote responsible travel practices, and support the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

What are some examples of sustainable tourism practices?

Examples of sustainable tourism practices include using eco-friendly transportation and accommodations, supporting local businesses and communities, conserving natural resources, and respecting local cultures.

How can tourists practice sustainable tourism?

Tourists can practice sustainable tourism by reducing their carbon footprint, supporting local businesses and communities, respecting local cultures, and conserving natural resources.

What is the role of governments in sustainable tourism?

Governments can play a crucial role in promoting and regulating sustainable tourism practices, such as setting standards and regulations for tourism businesses, supporting local communities, and preserving natural and cultural heritage sites.

How can tourism businesses implement sustainable practices?

Tourism businesses can implement sustainable practices by adopting eco-friendly technologies and practices, supporting local communities and economies, reducing waste and carbon emissions, and promoting responsible tourism practices.

What is the impact of unsustainable tourism practices?

Unsustainable tourism practices can have negative impacts on the environment, such as pollution , overuse of natural resources, and habitat destruction. They can also have negative social impacts, such as exploitation of local communities and cultures.

How can sustainable tourism contribute to economic growth and development ?

Sustainable tourism can contribute to economic growth and development by creating job opportunities , generating income for local communities, and promoting local businesses and economies.

How can sustainable tourism help to address climate change?

Sustainable tourism can help to address climate change by reducing carbon emissions through the use of eco-friendly transportation and accommodations, and by promoting responsible travel practices.

How can consumers support sustainable tourism?

Consumers can support sustainable tourism by choosing eco-friendly accommodations and transportation options, supporting local businesses and communities, respecting local cultures, and conserving natural resources.

To summarise, sustainable tourism is a form of tourism that takes a long term approach. It considers needs of the future, not only the present. Sustainable tourism has close ties with a number of other tourism forms such as responsible tourism, alternative tourism and ecotourism. In order to be sustainable the three pillars of sustainable tourism must be accounted for: economic impacts, social impacts, environmental impacts.

Typically tourists who partake in sustainable tourism activities will have a desire to help and support local communities and environments whilst avoiding any negative impacts their visit might bring. Many tourists now are far more conscious than they used to be and in general, society is a lot more aware of the impacts of their actions. In many ways, this has fuelled the sustainable behaviours of a number of stakeholders, who seek to please their customers and to enhance their own business prospects.

If you found this article about sustainable tourism helpful, I am sure you will enjoy these too:

  • The scary truth about water insecurity
  • Cultural erosion: A simple explanation
  • Why Ecotourism in Costa Rica is such big business
  • 13 Social impacts of tourism + explanations + examples
  • 15 reasons volunteering might not benefit you as much as you think: Negative impacts of volunteer tourism

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Sustainable development

"Tourism 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"

Sustainable tourism development guidelines and management practices are applicable to all forms of tourism in all types of destinations, including mass tourism and the various niche tourism segments. Sustainability principles refer to the environmental, economic, and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, and a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability.

Thus, sustainable tourism should:

  • Make optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development, maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity.
  • Respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities, conserve their built and living cultural heritage and traditional values, and contribute to inter-cultural understanding and tolerance.
  • Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders that are fairly distributed, including stable employment and income-earning opportunities and social services to host communities, and contributing to poverty alleviation.

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 Tourism strives to promote tourism development that supports, in equal measure, the conservation of biodiversity, the social welfare and the economic security of the host countries and communities.

Climate Action

Tourism is both highly vulnerable to climate change while at the same time contributing to it. Threats for the sector are diverse, including direct and indirect impacts such as more extreme weather events, increasing insurance costs and safety concerns, water shortages,  biodiversity loss and damage to assets and attractions at destinations, among others.

Global Tourism Plastics Initiative

The problem of plastic pollution in tourism is too big for any single organisation to fix on its own. To match the scale of the problem, changes need to take place across the whole tourism value chain.

Hotel Energy Solutions (HES)

Hotel Energy Solutions (HES) is a UN Tourism -initiated project in collaboration with a team of United Nations and EU leading agencies in Tourism and Energy . 

Observatories (INSTO)

The UN Tourism International Network of Sustainable Tourism Observatories (INSTO) is a network of tourism observatories monitoring the economic, environmental and social impact of tourism at the destination level. 

When responsibly planned and managed, tourism has demonstrated its capacity to support job creation, promote inclusive social integration, protect natural and cultural heritage, conserve biodiversity, generate sustainable livelihoods and improve human wellbeing.  As the sector is experiencing tremendous growth, collective efforts to ensure its long-term sustainability are essential.

Resource Efficiency in Tourism

The report aims to inspire stakeholders and encourage them to advance the implementation of the SDGs through sustainable tourism.

Small Islands Developing States (SIDS)

Small Island Developing States face numerous challenges. For a significant number, their remoteness affects their ability to be part of the global supply chain, increases import costs - especially for energy - and limits their competitiveness in the tourist industry. Many are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change - from devastating storms to the threat of sea level rise.

Travel facilitation

Travel facilitation of tourist travel is closely interlinked with tourism development and can be a tool to foster increased demand and generate economic development, job creation and international understanding.

UNGA Sustainable Tourism Resolutions

The UN Tourism is regularly preparing reports for the General Assembly of the United Nations providing updates on sustainable tourism policies both from UN Tourism member States and States Members of the United Nations, as well as relevant agencies and programmes of the United Nations system.

How global tourism can become more sustainable, inclusive and resilient

A sanitary mask lies on the ground at Frankfurt Airport

A sanitary mask lies on the ground at Frankfurt Airport Image:  Reuters/Ralph Orlowski

.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo{-webkit-transition:all 0.15s ease-out;transition:all 0.15s ease-out;cursor:pointer;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;outline:none;color:inherit;}.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo:hover,.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo[data-hover]{-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo:focus,.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo[data-focus]{box-shadow:0 0 0 3px rgba(168,203,251,0.5);} Ahmed Al-Khateeb

sustainable tourism importance

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Stay up to date:, the great reset.

  • Tourism rose to the forefront of the global agenda in 2020, due to the devastating impact of COVID-19
  • Recovery will be driven by technology and innovation – specifically seamless travel solutions, but it will be long, uneven and slow
  • Success hinges on international coordination and collaboration across the public and private sectors

Tourism was one of the sectors hit hardest by the global pandemic. 2020 was the worst year on record for international travel due to the global pandemic, with countries taking decisive action to protect their citizens, closing borders and halting international travel.

The result was a 74% decline in international visitor arrivals, equivalent to over $1 trillion revenue losses , and an estimated 62 million fewer jobs . The impact on international air travel has been even more severe with a 90% drop on 2019 , resulting in a potential $1.8 trillion loss. And while the economic impact is dire in itself, nearly 2.9 million lives have been lost in the pandemic.

The path to recovery will be long and slow

Countries now face the challenge of reopening borders to resume travel and commerce, while protecting their populations’ health. At its peak, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported in April 2020 that every country on earth had implemented some travel restriction , signalling the magnitude of the operation to restart travel.

Have you read?

Tourism industry experts fear long road to recovery, how we can prioritize sustainability in rebuilding tourism, covid-19 could set the global tourism industry back 20 years.

Consequently, the path to recovery will be long and slow. The resurgence of cases following the discovery of new variants towards the end of last year delivered another disappointing blow to the travel industry. Any pickup over the summer months was quashed following a second wave of lockdowns and border closures . Coupled with mixed progress in the roll-out of vaccination programs, I predict that we will not see a significant rebound in international travel until the middle of this year at best.

Others echo my fears. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts a 50.4% improvement on 2020 air travel demand, which would bring the industry to 50.6% of 2019 levels . However, a more pessimistic outlook based on the persistence of travel restrictions suggests that demand may only pick up by 13% this year, leaving the industry at 38% of 2019 levels. McKinsey & Company similarly predict that tourism expenditure may not return to pre-COVID-19 levels until 2024 .

How to enhance sustainability, inclusivity and resilience

Given its economic might – employing 330 million people, contributing 10% to global GDP before the pandemic, and predicted to create 100 million new jobs – restoring the travel and tourism sector to a position of strength is the utmost priority.

The Great Reset provides an opportunity to rethink how tourism is delivered and to enhance sustainability, inclusivity and resilience. We must also address the challenges – from climate change and “ overtourism ” to capacity constraints – that we faced before the pandemic, while embracing traveller preferences, as we rebuild.

A 2018 study found that global tourism accounted for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions from 2009 to 2013 ; four times higher than previous estimates. Even more worryingly, this puts progress towards the Paris Agreement at risk – recovery efforts must centre around environmental sustainability.

Furthermore, according to a study on managing overcrowding, the top 20 most popular global destinations were predicted to add more international arrivals than the rest of the world combined by 2020 . While COVID-19 will have disrupted this trend, it is well known that consumers want to travel again, and we must address the issues associated with overcrowding, especially in nascent destinations, like Saudi Arabia.

The Great Reset is a chance to make sure that as we rebuild, we do it better.

There is no consensus about when the tourist industry will recover from the pandemic

Seamless solutions lie at the heart of travel recovery

Tourism has the potential to be an engine of economic recovery provided we work collaboratively to adopt a common approach to a safe and secure reopening process – and conversations on this are already underway.

Through the G20, which Saudi Arabia hosted in 2020, our discussions focused on how to leverage technology and innovation in response to the crisis, as well as how to restore traveller confidence and improve the passenger experience in the future .

At the global level, across the public and private sectors, the World Economic Forum is working with the Commons Project on the CommonPass framework , which will allow individuals to access lab results and vaccination records, and consent to having that information used to validate their COVID status. IATA is trialling the Travel Pass with airlines and governments , which seeks to be a global and standardized solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding COVID-19 travel requirements.

The provision of solutions that minimize person-to-person contact responds to consumer wants, with IATA finding that 85% of travellers would feel safer with touchless processing . Furthermore, 44% said they would share personal data to enable this, up from 30% months prior , showing a growing trend for contactless travel processes.

Such solutions will be critical in coordinating the opening of international borders in a way that is safe, seamless and secure, while giving tourists the confidence to travel again.

Collaboration at the international level is critical

The availability of vaccines will make this easier, and we have commenced our vaccination programme in Saudi Arabia . But we need to ensure processes and protocols are aligned globally, and that we support countries with limited access to vaccinations to eliminate the threat of another resurgence. It is only when businesses and travellers have confidence in the systems that the sector will flourish again.

In an era of unprecedented data and ubiquitous intelligence, it is essential that organizations reimagine how they manage personal data and digital identities. By empowering individuals and offering them ways to control their own data, user-centric digital identities enable trusted physical and digital interactions – from government services or e-payments to health credentials, safe mobility or employment.

sustainable tourism importance

The World Economic Forum curates the Platform for Good Digital Identity to advance global digital identity activities that are collaborative and put the user interest at the center.

The Forum convenes public-private digital identity collaborations from travel, health, financial services in a global action and learning network – to understand common challenges and capture solutions useful to support current and future coalitions. Additionally, industry-specific models such as Known Traveller Digital Identity or decentralized identity models show that digital identity solutions respecting the individual are possible.

The approach taken by Saudi Arabia and its partners to establish consensus and build collaborative relationships internationally and between the public and private sectors, should serve as a model to be replicated so that we can maximize the tourism sector’s contribution to the global economic recovery, while ensuring that it becomes a driver of prosperity and social progress again.

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Inside the Travel Lab

9 Powerful Benefits of Sustainable Tourism and Why You Should Care

August 7, 2022

9 Benefits of Sustainable Tourism

Let’s talk about the benefits of sustainable tourism. No, not just the part that tries to make you feel guilty and then fob you off with a bamboo toothbrush. But real, powerful, meaningful benefits. Turns out that travel is good for the planet. Let’s go.

9 Benefits of Sustainable Tourism

Table of Contents

What is the Definition of Sustainable Tourism?

Gah, sustainable tourism. It’s sexy but it sure doesn’t sound like it.

The UNWTO Definition: “Tourism 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”

Yet it’s more than just green travel or responsible travel or even eco-friendly travel. The emphasis on sustainability refers to lots of different, important considerations. But one of them, is that people should be having fun. Otherwise, we’re missing the point.

With that in mind, let’s talk more about some of the top benefits of sustainable tourism.

The Benefits of Sustainable Tourism

Elephant standing at the river edge in Kenya

1. Sustainable Tourism Directly Helps Save Endangered Animals

What’s the most powerful way of protecting endangered animals? Making them more valuable alive than dead.

And with sustainably run wildlife encounters, that’s exactly what happens. When communities earn their living by drawing visitors to see and appreciate wildlife in their natural habitats, the pressure to poach diminishes. The benefits of sustainable tourism extend beyond the travel industry as entire regions begin to see preserving local species as economically beneficial, as well as just morally so.

Walking through Anaga Natural Park

2. Sustainable Tourism Protects Landscapes and Environments

Just as with endangered animals, sustainable tourism creates a massive incentive for communities to protect landscapes as well as the creatures that live within them. While areas can be fenced off by authorities simply for their own protection, one of the benefits of sustainable tourism includes an income for the people who live nearby while also financing the protection of the area in question. And it’s not just “landscapes.” Marine life and aquatic environments can also benefit from the positive impact of sustainable tourism.

Note, this is generally the opposite of overtourism.

Still mist and water in a kayak in Alaska

3. Sustainable Tourism Reduces Pollution

While sustainable tourism protects against poaching and the active destruction of habitats, as mentioned above, it also helps to reduce pollution.

With extra incentives to keep local areas clean to earn an income from visitors, it is easier to to get group cooperation to reduce pollution on an individual level, and a corporate and government level.

Traditional Jordanian Food Recipes learned at Beit Sitti in Amman

4. Sustainable Tourism Shares Knowledge

While “bad tourism” herds people into resorts where they have no idea where they are or what local traditions look like, sustainable tourism invites visitors and residents to share their experiences, exchange knowledge and have fun.

  • Recommended reading: Learning about Jordanian food in Beit Sitti

Cooking lessons at Eumelia

5. Sustainable Tourism Prevents Cash Crops and Protects Livelihoods

Mass industry and thoughtless mass tourism leads to cash crops and precarious livelihoods. Areas can find themselves supported by only one crop or one corporation and then it only takes one small change in circumstances, like a hurricane or corporate failure, for the entire area to struggle.

Sustainable tourism encourages a diverse approach to accommodation, food, farming and the preservation of tradition in local communities.

With smaller boutique hotels, cooking classes, agroturismo and the tours woven into the tourism industry, communities are left less at the mercy of external events and the disadvantages of cash crop economies.

  • Recommended reading: The Cheese Route in Austria and What does agroturismo have to teach in Greece?

Organic farming at Eumelia Peloponnese Greece

6. Sustainable Tourism is Good for Your Health

Whether we’re talking physical health or mental health, one of the benefits of sustainable tourism is wellness.

Clean air, clean water, sustainable farming practices and beautiful natural landscapes are each known to improve health on a population level.

And laughter and meeting new friends helps too. Seriously. It’s all scientifically approved!

The Kasestrasse Cheese Route in Bregenzerwald Austria

7. Sustainable Tourism Protects and Preserves Valued Traditions

Traditional practices bind cultures together. Almost by definition, they are sustainable and have survived for centuries when we all had far less. Yet globalisation threatens many traditional practices.

In the modern world, where is the market for all the artisanal produce and practices? Responsible tourism helps to bring together traders and customers for small, traditional practices, from gin distilleries to hand-woven carpets to any and every kind of local culture and tradition.

For examples, see:

  • Uncovering tradition in the highest vineyards in Europe

Icy landscape in Patagonia

8. Sustainable Tourism Doesn’t Require Charity

Sometimes, the best of intentions result in the most harm. Several efforts to help alleviate the 1980s famine in east Africa, for example, resulted in harm that lasted for decades.

Sustainable travel seeks a win-win situation.

It demands a formula that works for today  and  tomorrow.

A method that benefits tourists and local communities, that conserves the environment and which, crucially, is both affordable and makes enough money to keep the whole show on the road.

In the words of a banker turned philanthropist.

“If we become a loss-making organisation, we are no help at all. We must be stable and sustainable. Running a business that depends on yearly grants and fundraising provides no security at all.” Jean-Marc Debricon, founder of the Green Shoots Foundation.

Truly sustainable travel should support the local economy and local people without creating a dependency on fundraising or aid.

Finland - Helsinki - Abigail King - Snowy Hat - One day in Helsinki

9. Sustainable Tourism Feels Good!

Travel is one of the most joyful and rewarding things we can do with our lives on this planet. People on their deathbeds don’t wish for more time in the office or better clothes. They wish for more time with their family and their friends, and to have travelled more.

One of the many benefits of sustainable tourism is also one of the simplest: it just feels good!

In Summary: The Benefits of Sustainable Tourism

  • Protects endangered animals
  • Protects landscapes and marine reserves under threat
  • Reduces pollution and protects natural resources
  • Shares knowledge
  • Protects livelihoods and brings economic benefits
  • Promotes health
  • Develops independence
  • Feels good!

What Sustainable Tourism Is Not

Sometimes, it’s easier to understand the benefits of sustainable tourism by talking about the opposite. What sustainable tourism is not.

Not Just a “Third World” Problem

Leaving aside for a moment the terminology, sustainable tourism applies to everyone everywhere. The Palace of Versailles outside Paris needs to manage the principles of sustainable tourism just as much as the Amazon rainforest does.

Not Paternalistic

It’s not about “rich white saviours” deciding what’s best for other people and their land. It’s about everyone working together.

Not Just Being Green

Ecotourism or green travel makes protecting the environment the main concern. Sustainable tourism goes further than that. It looks at protecting people, their culture and their future as well as their past. It also focuses on the traveller having a good time in whichever way that feels meaningful to them.

Why? Because…

It needs to make a profit to be economically sustainable.

Here’s the sustainable part. It has to make money. It cannot be a setup that relies on donations, which could stop at any time, or that relies on the traveller feeling good about feeling bad.

Some industries can just about pull that off. But travel cannot because…

“Travel is my one time to relax and take a break, goddammit!”

Not A Chore

Tourism has to be sustainable. Which means that it has to be manageable (and I’d wager pleasurable) to the traveller as well as the host community. That’s something that green travel and ethical travel and ecotourism occasionally lose sight of.

Responsible travel is almost the same thing. But it doesn’t sound much fun, does it?! What happened to taking a break from some of our responsibilities for a short while?!

And finally, we can all be  very  responsible for a short period of time. But is there a system in place that makes being responsible  sustainable? That’s the key question.

In Summary: What Sustainable Tourism Is Not

  • For “third world” countries
  • About “being green”
  • “White saviours” dictating terms
  • No fun for the traveller!

FAQs About Sustainable Tourism

Who benefits from sustainable tourism?

Everyone. Both locals and travellers and people who never visit the destination.

What is sustainable tourism?

It’s a model of tourism which benefits both people and places, as well as the environment and is economically sustainable on its own.

Why is sustainable tourism difficult to achieve?

I’m not convinced that it is, with the right mindset. But there is a temptation to cut corners and exploit natural resources for the fastest or cheapest result instead of the most beneficial one.

What are the benefits of responsible tourism?

All of the above!

Sustainable Living: The Key Takeaway…

We can’t wait until we’re perfect to start doing something better.

More on Sustainable Travel

  • Start here: how to be a responsible tourist
  • Is dark tourism ethical? What you need to know.
  • Get inspired by this collection of the best sustainable travel blogs.
  • The unmistakable emotional meaning of home
  • Why you need to know about the cork trees in Portugal
  • The importance of doing nothing
  • How to find the most ethical travel destinations
  • 15 sustainable beach tips for your next trip to the sea
  • Five Ways Travel Can Help the Planet – rethinking Earth Day
  • Voluntourism – the questions you should ask by Uncornered Market

5 thoughts on “9 Powerful Benefits of Sustainable Tourism and Why You Should Care”

The positive of sustainable tourism is to ensure that development is a positive experience for local people, tourism companies, and tourists themselves. I don’t know about before reading your article. Thank you so much for sharing such a valuable information.

Many efforts at sustainability focus on the environment, some on the residents. But for true success, we need to consider all three components. Thanks for stopping by!

Sustainable tourism is the key to establishing the balance between development and nature. It is indeed true that it helps protect endangered animals and birds, protects landscapes and promotes a healthy lifestyle. One such example is the Khonoma Village of Nagaland in India. The villagers were once hunters but now is mainly known for their preservation efforts, ecotourism and sustainable tourism

Thanks for the recommendation! Hope to check it out one day.

You’re welcome Abi. Dzulekie is another village near Khonoma known for the same.

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Article contents

The role of tourism in sustainable development.

  • Robert B. Richardson Robert B. Richardson Community Sustainability, Michigan State University
  • https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199389414.013.387
  • Published online: 25 March 2021

Sustainable development is the foundational principle for enhancing human and economic development while maintaining the functional integrity of ecological and social systems that support regional economies. Tourism has played a critical role in sustainable development in many countries and regions around the world. In developing countries, tourism development has been used as an important strategy for increasing economic growth, alleviating poverty, creating jobs, and improving food security. Many developing countries are in regions that are characterized by high levels of biological diversity, natural resources, and cultural heritage sites that attract international tourists whose local purchases generate income and support employment and economic development. Tourism has been associated with the principles of sustainable development because of its potential to support environmental protection and livelihoods. However, the relationship between tourism and the environment is multifaceted, as some types of tourism have been associated with negative environmental impacts, many of which are borne by host communities.

The concept of sustainable tourism development emerged in contrast to mass tourism, which involves the participation of large numbers of people, often in structured or packaged tours. Mass tourism has been associated with economic leakage and dependence, along with negative environmental and social impacts. Sustainable tourism development has been promoted in various ways as a framing concept in contrast to these economic, environmental, and social impacts. Some literature has acknowledged a vagueness of the concept of sustainable tourism, which has been used to advocate for fundamentally different strategies for tourism development that may exacerbate existing conflicts between conservation and development paradigms. Tourism has played an important role in sustainable development in some countries through the development of alternative tourism models, including ecotourism, community-based tourism, pro-poor tourism, slow tourism, green tourism, and heritage tourism, among others that aim to enhance livelihoods, increase local economic growth, and provide for environmental protection. Although these models have been given significant attention among researchers, the extent of their implementation in tourism planning initiatives has been limited, superficial, or incomplete in many contexts.

The sustainability of tourism as a global system is disputed among scholars. Tourism is dependent on travel, and nearly all forms of transportation require the use of non-renewable resources such as fossil fuels for energy. The burning of fossil fuels for transportation generates emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change, which is fundamentally unsustainable. Tourism is also vulnerable to both localized and global shocks. Studies of the vulnerability of tourism to localized shocks include the impacts of natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and civil unrest. Studies of the vulnerability of tourism to global shocks include the impacts of climate change, economic crisis, global public health pandemics, oil price shocks, and acts of terrorism. It is clear that tourism has contributed significantly to economic development globally, but its role in sustainable development is uncertain, debatable, and potentially contradictory.

  • conservation
  • economic development
  • environmental impacts
  • sustainable development
  • sustainable tourism
  • tourism development


Sustainable development is the guiding principle for advancing human and economic development while maintaining the integrity of ecosystems and social systems on which the economy depends. It is also the foundation of the leading global framework for international cooperation—the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (United Nations, 2015 ). The concept of sustainable development is often associated with the publication of Our Common Future (World Commission on Environment and Development [WCED], 1987 , p. 29), which defined it as “paths of human progress that meet the needs and aspirations of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” Concerns about the environmental implications of economic development in lower income countries had been central to debates about development studies since the 1970s (Adams, 2009 ). The principles of sustainable development have come to dominate the development discourse, and the concept has become the primary development paradigm since the 1990s.

Tourism has played an increasingly important role in sustainable development since the 1990s, both globally and in particular countries and regions. For decades, tourism has been promoted as a low-impact, non-extractive option for economic development, particularly for developing countries (Gössling, 2000 ). Many developing countries have managed to increase their participation in the global economy through development of international tourism. Tourism development is increasingly viewed as an important tool in increasing economic growth, alleviating poverty, and improving food security. Tourism enables communities that are poor in material wealth, but rich in history and cultural heritage, to leverage their unique assets for economic development (Honey & Gilpin, 2009 ). More importantly, tourism offers an alternative to large-scale development projects, such as construction of dams, and to extractive industries such as mining and forestry, all of which contribute to emissions of pollutants and threaten biodiversity and the cultural values of Indigenous Peoples.

Environmental quality in destination areas is inextricably linked with tourism, as visiting natural areas and sightseeing are often the primary purpose of many leisure travels. Some forms of tourism, such as ecotourism, can contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and the protection of ecosystem functions in destination areas (Fennell, 2020 ; Gössling, 1999 ). Butler ( 1991 ) suggests that there is a kind of mutual dependence between tourism and the environment that should generate mutual benefits. Many developing countries are in regions that are characterized by high levels of species diversity, natural resources, and protected areas. Such ideas imply that tourism may be well aligned with the tenets of sustainable development.

However, the relationship between tourism and the environment is complex, as some forms of tourism have been associated with negative environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions, freshwater use, land use, and food consumption (Butler, 1991 ; Gössling & Peeters, 2015 ; Hunter & Green, 1995 ; Vitousek et al., 1997 ). Assessments of the sustainability of tourism have highlighted several themes, including (a) parks, biodiversity, and conservation; (b) pollution and climate change; (c) prosperity, economic growth, and poverty alleviation; (d) peace, security, and safety; and (e) population stabilization and reduction (Buckley, 2012 ). From a global perspective, tourism contributes to (a) changes in land cover and land use; (b) energy use, (c) biotic exchange and extinction of wild species; (d) exchange and dispersion of diseases; and (e) changes in the perception and understanding of the environment (Gössling, 2002 ).

Research on tourism and the environment spans a wide range of social and natural science disciplines, and key contributions have been disseminated across many interdisciplinary fields, including biodiversity conservation, climate science, economics, and environmental science, among others (Buckley, 2011 ; Butler, 1991 ; Gössling, 2002 ; Lenzen et al., 2018 ). Given the global significance of the tourism sector and its environmental impacts, the role of tourism in sustainable development is an important topic of research in environmental science generally and in environmental economics and management specifically. Reviews of tourism research have highlighted future research priorities for sustainable development, including the role of tourism in the designation and expansion of protected areas; improvement in environmental accounting techniques that quantify environmental impacts; and the effects of individual perceptions of responsibility in addressing climate change (Buckley, 2012 ).

Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, and it has linkages with many of the prime sectors of the global economy (Fennell, 2020 ). As a global economic sector, tourism represents one of the largest generators of wealth, and it is an important agent of economic growth and development (Garau-Vadell et al., 2018 ). Tourism is a critical industry in many local and national economies, and it represents a large and growing share of world trade (Hunter, 1995 ). Global tourism has had an average annual increase of 6.6% over the past half century, with international tourist arrivals rising sharply from 25.2 million in 1950 to more than 950 million in 2010 . In 2019 , the number of international tourists reached 1.5 billion, up 4% from 2018 (Fennell, 2020 ; United Nations World Tourism Organization [UNWTO], 2020 ). European countries are host to more than half of international tourists, but since 1990 , growth in international arrivals has risen faster than the global average, in both the Middle East and the Asia and Pacific region (UNWTO, 2020 ).

The growth in global tourism has been accompanied by an expansion of travel markets and a diversification of tourism destinations. In 1950 , the top five travel destinations were all countries in Europe and the Americas, and these destinations held 71% of the global travel market (Fennell, 2020 ). By 2002 , these countries represented only 35%, which underscores the emergence of newly accessible travel destinations in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific Rim, including numerous developing countries. Over the past 70 years, global tourism has grown significantly as an economic sector, and it has contributed to the economic development of dozens of nations.

Given the growth of international tourism and its emergence as one of the world’s largest export sectors, the question of its impact on economic growth for the host countries has been a topic of great interest in the tourism literature. Two hypotheses have emerged regarding the role of tourism in the economic growth process (Apergis & Payne, 2012 ). First, tourism-led growth hypothesis relies on the assumption that tourism is an engine of growth that generates spillovers and positive externalities through economic linkages that will impact the overall economy. Second, the economic-driven tourism growth hypothesis emphasizes policies oriented toward well-defined and enforceable property rights, stable political institutions, and adequate investment in both physical and human capital to facilitate the development of the tourism sector. Studies have concluded with support for both the tourism-led growth hypothesis (e.g., Durbarry, 2004 ; Katircioglu, 2010 ) and the economic-led growth hypothesis (e.g., Katircioglu, 2009 ; Oh, 2005 ), whereas other studies have found support for a bidirectional causality for tourism and economic growth (e.g., Apergis & Payne, 2012 ; Lee & Chang, 2008 ).

The growth of tourism has been marked by an increase in the competition for tourist expenditures, making it difficult for destinations to maintain their share of the international tourism market (Butler, 1991 ). Tourism development is cyclical and subject to short-term cycles and overconsumption of resources. Butler ( 1980 ) developed a tourist-area cycle of evolution that depicts the number of tourists rising sharply over time through periods of exploration, involvement, and development, before eventual consolidation and stagnation. When tourism growth exceeds the carrying capacity of the area, resource degradation can lead to the decline of tourism unless specific steps are taken to promote rejuvenation (Butler, 1980 , 1991 ).

The potential of tourism development as a tool to contribute to environmental conservation, economic growth, and poverty reduction is derived from several unique characteristics of the tourism system (UNWTO, 2002 ). First, tourism represents an opportunity for economic diversification, particularly in marginal areas with few other export options. Tourists are attracted to remote areas with high values of cultural, wildlife, and landscape assets. The cultural and natural heritage of developing countries is frequently based on such assets, and tourism represents an opportunity for income generation through the preservation of heritage values. Tourism is the only export sector where the consumer travels to the exporting country, which provides opportunities for lower-income households to become exporters through the sale of goods and services to foreign tourists. Tourism is also labor intensive; it provides small-scale employment opportunities, which also helps to promote gender equity. Finally, there are numerous indirect benefits of tourism for people living in poverty, including increased market access for remote areas through the development of roads, infrastructure, and communication networks. Nevertheless, travel is highly income elastic and carbon intensive, which has significant implications for the sustainability of the tourism sector (Lenzen et al., 2018 ).

Concerns about environmental issues appeared in tourism research just as global awareness of the environmental impacts of human activities was expanding. The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm in 1972 , the same year as the publication of The Limits to Growth (Meadows et al., 1972 ), which highlighted the concerns about the implications of exponential economic and population growth in a world of finite resources. This was the same year that the famous Blue Marble photograph of Earth was taken by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft (Höhler, 2015 , p. 10), and the image captured the planet cloaked in the darkness of space and became a symbol of Earth’s fragility and vulnerability. As noted by Buckley ( 2012 ), tourism researchers turned their attention to social and environmental issues around the same time (Cohen, 1978 ; Farrell & McLellan, 1987 ; Turner & Ash, 1975 ; Young, 1973 ).

The notion of sustainable development is often associated with the publication of Our Common Future , the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, also known as the Brundtland Commission (WCED, 1987 ). The report characterized sustainable development in terms of meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED, 1987 , p. 43). Four basic principles are fundamental to the concept of sustainability: (a) the idea of holistic planning and strategy making; (b) the importance of preserving essential ecological processes; (c) the need to protect both human heritage and biodiversity; and (d) the need to develop in such a way that productivity can be sustained over the long term for future generations (Bramwell & Lane, 1993 ). In addition to achieving balance between economic growth and the conservation of natural resources, there should be a balance of fairness and opportunity between the nations of the world.

Although the modern concept of sustainable development emerged with the publication of Our Common Future , sustainable development has its roots in ideas about sustainable forest management that were developed in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries (Blewitt, 2015 ; Grober, 2007 ). Sustainable forest management is concerned with the stewardship and use of forests in a way that maintains their biodiversity, productivity, and regeneration capacity as well as their potential to fulfill society’s demands for forest products and benefits. Building on these ideas, Daly ( 1990 ) offered two operational principles of sustainable development. First, sustainable development implies that harvest rates should be no greater than rates of regeneration; this concept is known as maximum sustainable yield. Second, waste emission rates should not exceed the natural assimilative capacities of the ecosystems into which the wastes are emitted. Regenerative and assimilative capacities are characterized as natural capital, and a failure to maintain these capacities is not sustainable.

Shortly after the emergence of the concept of sustainable development in academic and policy discourse, tourism researchers began referring to the notion of sustainable tourism (May, 1991 ; Nash & Butler, 1990 ), which soon became the dominant paradigm of tourism development. The concept of sustainable tourism, as with the role of tourism in sustainable development, has been interpreted in different ways, and there is a lack of consensus concerning its meaning, objectives, and indicators (Sharpley, 2000 ). Growing interest in the subject inspired the creation of a new academic journal, Journal of Sustainable Tourism , which was launched in 1993 and has become a leading tourism journal. It is described as “an international journal that publishes research on tourism and sustainable development, including economic, social, cultural and political aspects.”

The notion of sustainable tourism development emerged in contrast to mass tourism, which is characterized by the participation of large numbers of people, often provided as structured or packaged tours. Mass tourism has risen sharply in the last half century. International arrivals alone have increased by an average annual rate of more than 25% since 1950 , and many of those trips involved mass tourism activities (Fennell, 2020 ; UNWTO, 2020 ). Some examples of mass tourism include beach resorts, cruise ship tourism, gaming casinos, golf resorts, group tours, ski resorts, theme parks, and wildlife safari tourism, among others. Little data exist regarding the volume of domestic mass tourism, but nevertheless mass tourism activities dominate the global tourism sector. Mass tourism has been shown to generate benefits to host countries, such as income and employment generation, although it has also been associated with economic leakage (where revenue generated by tourism is lost to other countries’ economies) and economic dependency (where developing countries are dependent on wealthier countries for tourists, imports, and foreign investment) (Cater, 1993 ; Conway & Timms, 2010 ; Khan, 1997 ; Peeters, 2012 ). Mass tourism has been associated with numerous negative environmental impacts and social impacts (Cater, 1993 ; Conway & Timms, 2010 ; Fennell, 2020 ; Ghimire, 2013 ; Gursoy et al., 2010 ; Liu, 2003 ; Peeters, 2012 ; Wheeller, 2007 ). Sustainable tourism development has been promoted in various ways as a framing concept in contrast to many of these economic, environmental, and social impacts.

Much of the early research on sustainable tourism focused on defining the concept, which has been the subject of vigorous debate (Bramwell & Lane, 1993 ; Garrod & Fyall, 1998 ; Hunter, 1995 ; Inskeep, 1991 ; Liu, 2003 ; Sharpley, 2000 ). Early definitions of sustainable tourism development seemed to fall in one of two categories (Sharpley, 2000 ). First, the “tourism-centric” paradigm of sustainable tourism development focuses on sustaining tourism as an economic activity (Hunter, 1995 ). Second, alternative paradigms have situated sustainable tourism in the context of wider sustainable development policies (Butler, 1991 ). One of the most comprehensive definitions of sustainable tourism echoes some of the language of the Brundtland Commission’s definition of sustainable development (WCED, 1987 ), emphasizing opportunities for the future while also integrating social and environmental concerns:

Sustainable tourism can be thought of as meeting the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future. Sustainable tourism development is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that we can fulfill economic, social and aesthetic needs while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems. (Inskeep, 1991 , p. 461)

Hunter argued that over the short and long terms, sustainable tourism development should

“meet the needs and wants of the local host community in terms of improved living standards and quality of life;

satisfy the demands of tourists and the tourism industry, and continue to attract them in order to meet the first aim; and

safeguard the environmental resource base for tourism, encompassing natural, built and cultural components, in order to achieve both of the preceding aims.” (Hunter, 1995 , p. 156)

Numerous other definitions have been documented, and the term itself has been subject to widespread critique (Buckley, 2012 ; Hunter, 1995 ; Liu, 2003 ). Nevertheless, there have been numerous calls to move beyond debate about a definition and to consider how it may best be implemented in practice (Garrod & Fyall, 1998 ; Liu, 2003 ). Cater ( 1993 ) identified three key criteria for sustainable tourism: (a) meeting the needs of the host population in terms of improved living standards both in the short and long terms; (b) satisfying the demands of a growing number of tourists; and (c) safeguarding the natural environment in order to achieve both of the preceding aims.

Some literature has acknowledged a vagueness of the concept of sustainable tourism, which has been used to advocate for fundamentally different strategies for tourism development that may exacerbate existing conflicts between conservation and development paradigms (Garrod & Fyall, 1998 ; Hunter, 1995 ; Liu, 2003 ; McKercher, 1993b ). Similar criticisms have been leveled at the concept of sustainable development, which has been described as an oxymoron with a wide range of meanings (Adams, 2009 ; Daly, 1990 ) and “defined in such a way as to be either morally repugnant or logically redundant” (Beckerman, 1994 , p. 192). Sharpley ( 2000 ) suggests that in the tourism literature, there has been “a consistent and fundamental failure to build a theoretical link between sustainable tourism and its parental paradigm,” sustainable development (p. 2). Hunter ( 1995 ) suggests that practical measures designed to operationalize sustainable tourism fail to address many of the critical issues that are central to the concept of sustainable development generally and may even actually counteract the fundamental requirements of sustainable development. He suggests that mainstream sustainable tourism development is concerned with protecting the immediate resource base that will sustain tourism development while ignoring concerns for the status of the wider tourism resource base, such as potential problems associated with air pollution, congestion, introduction of invasive species, and declining oil reserves. The dominant paradigm of sustainable tourism development has been described as introverted, tourism-centric, and in competition with other sectors for scarce resources (McKercher, 1993a ). Hunter ( 1995 , p. 156) proposes an alternative, “extraparochial” paradigm where sustainable tourism development is reconceptualized in terms of its contribution to overall sustainable development. Such a paradigm would reconsider the scope, scale, and sectoral context of tourism-related resource utilization issues.

“Sustainability,” “sustainable tourism,” and “sustainable development” are all well-established terms that have often been used loosely and interchangeably in the tourism literature (Liu, 2003 ). Nevertheless, the subject of sustainable tourism has been given considerable attention and has been the focus of numerous academic compilations and textbooks (Coccossis & Nijkamp, 1995 ; Hall & Lew, 1998 ; Stabler, 1997 ; Swarbrooke, 1999 ), and it calls for new approaches to sustainable tourism development (Bramwell & Lane, 1993 ; Garrod & Fyall, 1998 ; Hunter, 1995 ; Sharpley, 2000 ). The notion of sustainable tourism has been reconceptualized in the literature by several authors who provided alternative frameworks for tourism development (Buckley, 2012 ; Gössling, 2002 ; Hunter, 1995 ; Liu, 2003 ; McKercher, 1993b ; Sharpley, 2000 ).

Early research in sustainable tourism focused on the local environmental impacts of tourism, including energy use, water use, food consumption, and change in land use (Buckley, 2012 ; Butler, 1991 ; Gössling, 2002 ; Hunter & Green, 1995 ). Subsequent research has emphasized the global environmental impacts of tourism, such as greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity losses (Gössling, 2002 ; Gössling & Peeters, 2015 ; Lenzen et al., 2018 ). Additional research has emphasized the impacts of environmental change on tourism itself, including the impacts of climate change on tourist behavior (Gössling et al., 2012 ; Richardson & Loomis, 2004 ; Scott et al., 2012 ; Viner, 2006 ). Countries that are dependent on tourism for economic growth may be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change (Richardson & Witkoswki, 2010 ).

The early focus on environmental issues in sustainable tourism has been broadened to include economic, social, and cultural issues as well as questions of power and equity in society (Bramwell & Lane, 1993 ; Sharpley, 2014 ), and some of these frameworks have integrated notions of social equity, prosperity, and cultural heritage values. Sustainable tourism is dependent on critical long-term considerations of the impacts; notions of equity; an appreciation of the importance of linkages (i.e., economic, social, and environmental); and the facilitation of cooperation and collaboration between different stakeholders (Elliott & Neirotti, 2008 ).

McKercher ( 1993b ) notes that tourism resources are typically part of the public domain or are intrinsically linked to the social fabric of the host community. As a result, many commonplace tourist activities such as sightseeing may be perceived as invasive by members of the host community. Many social impacts of tourism can be linked to the overuse of the resource base, increases in traffic congestion, rising land prices, urban sprawl, and changes in the social structure of host communities. Given the importance of tourist–resident interaction, sustainable tourism development depends in part on the support of the host community (Garau-Vadell et al., 2018 ).

Tourism planning involves the dual objectives of optimizing the well-being of local residents in host communities and minimizing the costs of tourism development (Sharpley, 2014 ). Tourism researchers have paid significant attention to examining the social impacts of tourism in general and to understanding host communities’ perceptions of tourism in particular. Studies of the social impacts of tourism development have examined the perceptions of local residents and the effects of tourism on social cohesion, traditional lifestyles, and the erosion of cultural heritage, particularly among Indigenous Peoples (Butler & Hinch, 2007 ; Deery et al., 2012 ; Mathieson & Wall, 1982 ; Sharpley, 2014 ; Whitford & Ruhanen, 2016 ).

Alternative Tourism and Sustainable Development

A wide body of published research is related to the role of tourism in sustainable development, and much of the literature involves case studies of particular types of tourism. Many such studies contrast types of alternative tourism with those of mass tourism, which has received sustained criticism for decades and is widely considered to be unsustainable (Cater, 1993 ; Conway & Timms, 2010 ; Fennell, 2020 ; Gursoy et al., 2010 ; Liu, 2003 ; Peeters, 2012 ; Zapata et al., 2011 ). Still, some tourism researchers have taken issue with the conclusion that mass tourism is inherently unsustainable (Sharpley, 2000 ; Weaver, 2007 ), and some have argued for developing pathways to “sustainable mass tourism” as “the desired and impending outcome for most destinations” (Weaver, 2012 , p. 1030). In integrating an ethical component to mass tourism development, Weaver ( 2014 , p. 131) suggests that the desirable outcome is “enlightened mass tourism.” Such suggestions have been contested in the literature and criticized for dubious assumptions about emergent norms of sustainability and support for growth, which are widely seen as contradictory (Peeters, 2012 ; Wheeller, 2007 ).

Models of responsible or alternative tourism development include ecotourism, community-based tourism, pro-poor tourism, slow tourism, green tourism, and heritage tourism, among others. Most models of alternative tourism development emphasize themes that aim to counteract the perceived negative impacts of conventional or mass tourism. As such, the objectives of these models of tourism development tend to focus on minimizing environmental impacts, supporting biodiversity conservation, empowering local communities, alleviating poverty, and engendering pleasant relationships between tourists and residents.

Approaches to alternative tourism development tend to overlap with themes of responsible tourism, and the two terms are frequently used interchangeably. Responsible tourism has been characterized in terms of numerous elements, including

ensuring that communities are involved in and benefit from tourism;

respecting local, natural, and cultural environments;

involving the local community in planning and decision-making;

using local resources sustainably;

behaving in ways that are sensitive to the host culture;

maintaining and encouraging natural, economic, and cultural diversity; and

assessing environmental, social, and economic impacts as a prerequisite to tourism development (Spenceley, 2012 ).

Hetzer ( 1965 ) identified four fundamental principles or perquisites for a more responsible form of tourism: (a) minimum environmental impact; (b) minimum impact on and maximum respect for host cultures; (c) maximum economic benefits to the host country; and (d) maximum leisure satisfaction to participating tourists.

The history of ecotourism is closely connected with the emergence of sustainable development, as it was born out of a concern for the conservation of biodiversity. Ecotourism is a form of tourism that aims to minimize local environmental impacts while bringing benefits to protected areas and the people living around those lands (Honey, 2008 ). Ecotourism represents a small segment of nature-based tourism, which is understood as tourism based on the natural attractions of an area, such as scenic areas and wildlife (Gössling, 1999 ). The ecotourism movement gained momentum in the 1990s, primarily in developing countries in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly all countries are now engaged in some form of ecotourism. In some communities, ecotourism is the primary economic activity and source of income and economic development.

The term “ecotourism” was coined by Hector Ceballos-Lascuráin and defined by him as “tourism that consists in travelling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural areas with the specific object of studying, admiring, and enjoying the scenery and its wild plants and animals” (Ceballos-Lascuráin, 1987 , p. 13). In discussing ecotourism resources, he also made reference to “any existing cultural manifestations (both past and present) found in these areas” (Ceballos-Lascuráin, 1987 , p. 14). The basic precepts of ecotourism had been discussed long before the actual use of the term. Twenty years earlier, Hetzer ( 1965 ) referred to a form of tourism “based principally upon natural and archaeological resources such as caves, fossil sites (and) archaeological sites.” Thus, both natural resources and cultural resources were integrated into ecotourism frameworks from the earliest manifestations.

Costa Rica is well known for having successfully integrated ecotourism in its overall strategy for sustainable development, and numerous case studies of ecotourism in Costa Rica appear in the literature (Chase et al., 1998 ; Fennell & Eagles, 1990 ; Gray & Campbell, 2007 ; Hearne & Salinas, 2002 ). Ecotourism in Costa Rica has been seen as having supported the economic development of the country while promoting biodiversity conservation in its extensive network of protected areas. Chase et al. ( 1998 ) estimated the demand for ecotourism in a study of differential pricing of entrance fees at national parks in Costa Rica. The authors estimated elasticities associated with the own-price, cross-price, and income variables and found that the elasticities of demand were significantly different between three different national park sites. The results reveal the heterogeneity characterizing tourist behavior and park attractions and amenities. Hearne and Salinas ( 2002 ) used choice experiments to examine the preferences of domestic and foreign tourists in Costa Rica in an ecotourism site. Both sets of tourists demonstrated a preference for improved infrastructure, more information, and lower entrance fees. Foreign tourists demonstrated relatively stronger preferences for the inclusion of restrictions in the access to some trails.

Ecotourism has also been studied extensively in Kenya (Southgate, 2006 ), Malaysia (Lian Chan & Baum, 2007 ), Nepal (Baral et al., 2008 ), Peru (Stronza, 2007 ), and Taiwan (Lai & Nepal, 2006 ), among many other countries. Numerous case studies have demonstrated the potential for ecotourism to contribute to sustainable development by providing support for biodiversity conservation, local livelihoods, and regional development.

Community-Based Tourism

Community-based tourism (CBT) is a model of tourism development that emphasizes the development of local communities and allows for local residents to have substantial control over its development and management, and a major proportion of the benefits remain within the community. CBT emerged during the 1970s as a response to the negative impacts of the international mass tourism development model (Cater, 1993 ; Hall & Lew, 2009 ; Turner & Ash, 1975 ; Zapata et al., 2011 ).

Community-based tourism has been examined for its potential to contribute to poverty reduction. In a study of the viability of the CBT model to support socioeconomic development and poverty alleviation in Nicaragua, tourism was perceived by participants in the study to have an impact on employment creation in their communities (Zapata et al., 2011 ). Tourism was seen to have had positive impacts on strengthening local knowledge and skills, particularly on the integration of women to new roles in the labor market. One of the main perceived gains regarding the environment was the process of raising awareness regarding the conservation of natural resources. The small scale of CBT operations and low capacity to accommodate visitors was seen as a limitation of the model.

Spenceley ( 2012 ) compiled case studies of community-based tourism in countries in southern Africa, including Botswana, Madagascar, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. In this volume, authors characterize community-based and nature-based tourism development projects in the region and demonstrate how community participation in planning and decision-making has generated benefits for local residents and supported conservation initiatives. They contend that responsible tourism practices are of particular importance in the region because of the rich biological diversity, abundant charismatic wildlife, and the critical need for local economic development and livelihood strategies.

In Kenya, CBT enterprises were not perceived to have made a significant impact on poverty reduction at an individual household level, in part because the model relied heavily on donor funding, reinforcing dependency and poverty (Manyara & Jones, 2007 ). The study identified several critical success factors for CBT enterprises, namely, awareness and sensitization, community empowerment, effective leadership, and community capacity building, which can inform appropriate tourism policy formulation in Kenya. The impacts of CBT on economic development and poverty reduction would be greatly enhanced if tourism initiatives were able to emphasize independence, address local community priorities, enhance community empowerment and transparency, discourage elitism, promote effective community leadership, and develop community capacity to operate their own enterprises more efficiently.

Pro-Poor Tourism

Pro-poor tourism is a model of tourism development that brings net benefits to people living in poverty (Ashley et al., 2001 ; Harrison, 2008 ). Although its theoretical foundations and development objectives overlap to some degree with those of community-based tourism and other models of AT, the key distinctive feature of pro-poor tourism is that it places poor people and poverty at the top of the agenda. By focusing on a very simple and incontrovertibly moral idea, namely, the net benefits of tourism to impoverished people, the concept has broad appeal to donors and international aid agencies. Harnessing the economic benefits of tourism for pro-poor growth means capitalizing on the advantages while reducing negative impacts to people living in poverty (Ashley et al., 2001 ). Pro-poor approaches to tourism development include increasing access of impoverished people to economic benefits; addressing negative social and environmental impacts associated with tourism; and focusing on policies, processes, and partnerships that seek to remove barriers to participation by people living in poverty. At the local level, pro-poor tourism can play a very significant role in livelihood security and poverty reduction (Ashley & Roe, 2002 ).

Rogerson ( 2011 ) argues that the growth of pro-poor tourism initiatives in South Africa suggests that the country has become a laboratory for the testing and evolution of new approaches toward sustainable development planning that potentially will have relevance for other countries in the developing world. A study of pro-poor tourism development initiatives in Laos identified a number of favorable conditions for pro-poor tourism development, including the fact that local people are open to tourism and motivated to participate (Suntikul et al., 2009 ). The authors also noted a lack of development in the linkages that could optimize the fulfilment of the pro-poor agenda, such as training or facilitation of local people’s participation in pro-poor tourism development at the grassroots level.

Critics of the model have argued that pro-poor tourism is based on an acceptance of the status quo of existing capitalism, that it is morally indiscriminate and theoretically imprecise, and that its practitioners are academically and commercially marginal (Harrison, 2008 ). As Chok et al. ( 2007 ) indicate, the focus “on poor people in the South reflects a strong anthropocentric view . . . and . . . environmental benefits are secondary to poor peoples’” benefits (p. 153).

Harrison ( 2008 ) argues that pro-poor tourism is not a distinctive approach to tourism as a development tool and that it may be easier to discuss what pro-poor tourism is not than what it is. He concludes that it is neither anticapitalist nor inconsistent with mainstream tourism on which it relies; it is neither a theory nor a model and is not a niche form of tourism. Further, he argues that it has no distinctive method and is not only about people living in poverty.

Slow Tourism

The concept of slow tourism has emerged as a model of sustainable tourism development, and as such, it lacks an exact definition. The concept of slow tourism traces its origin back to some institutionalized social movements such as “slow food” and “slow cities” that began in Italy in the 1990s and spread rapidly around the world (Fullagar et al., 2012 ; Oh et al., 2016 , p. 205). Advocates of slow tourism tend to emphasize slowness in terms of speed, mobility, and modes of transportation that generate less environmental pollution. They propose niche marketing for alternative forms of tourism that focus on quality upgrading rather than merely increasing the quantity of visitors via the established mass-tourism infrastructure (Conway & Timms, 2010 ).

In the context of the Caribbean region, slow tourism has been promoted as more culturally sensitive and authentic, as compared to the dominant mass tourism development model that is based on all-inclusive beach resorts dependent on foreign investment (Conway & Timms, 2010 ). Recognizing its value as an alternative marketing strategy, Conway and Timms ( 2010 ) make the case for rebranding alternative tourism in the Caribbean as a means of revitalizing the sector for the changing demands of tourists in the 21st century . They suggest that slow tourism is the antithesis of mass tourism, which “relies on increasing the quantity of tourists who move through the system with little regard to either the quality of the tourists’ experience or the benefits that accrue to the localities the tourist visits” (Conway & Timms, 2010 , p. 332). The authors draw on cases from Barbados, the Grenadines, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago to characterize models of slow tourism development in remote fishing villages and communities near nature preserves and sea turtle nesting sites.

Although there is a growing interest in the concept of slow tourism in the literature, there seems to be little agreement about the exact nature of slow tourism and whether it is a niche form of special interest tourism or whether it represents a more fundamental potential shift across the industry. Conway and Timms ( 2010 ) focus on the destination, advocating for slow tourism in terms of a promotional identity for an industry in need of rebranding. Caffyn ( 2012 , p. 77) discusses the implementation of slow tourism in terms of “encouraging visitors to make slower choices when planning and enjoying their holidays.” It is not clear whether slow tourism is a marketing strategy, a mindset, or a social movement, but the literature on slow tourism nearly always equates the term with sustainable tourism (Caffyn, 2012 ; Conway & Timms, 2010 ; Oh et al., 2016 ). Caffyn ( 2012 , p. 80) suggests that slow tourism could offer a “win–win,” which she describes as “a more sustainable form of tourism; keeping more of the economic benefits within the local community and destination; and delivering a more meaningful and satisfying experience.” Research on slow tourism is nascent, and thus the contribution of slow tourism to sustainable development is not well understood.

Impacts of Tourism Development

The role of tourism in sustainable development can be examined through an understanding of the economic, environmental, and social impacts of tourism. Tourism is a global phenomenon that involves travel, recreation, the consumption of food, overnight accommodations, entertainment, sightseeing, and other activities that simultaneously intersect the lives of local residents, businesses, and communities. The impacts of tourism involve benefits and costs to all groups, and some of these impacts cannot easily be measured. Nevertheless, they have been studied extensively in the literature, which provides some context for how these benefits and costs are distributed.

Economic Impacts of Tourism

The travel and tourism sector is one of the largest components of the global economy, and global tourism has increased exponentially since the end of the Second World War (UNWTO, 2020 ). The direct, indirect, and induced economic impact of global travel accounted for 8.9 trillion U.S. dollars in contribution to the global gross domestic product (GDP), or 10.3% of global GDP. The global travel and tourism sector supports approximately 330 million jobs, or 1 in 10 jobs around the world. From an economic perspective, tourism plays a significant role in sustainable development. In many developing countries, tourism has the potential to play a unique role in income generation and distribution relative to many other industries, in part because of its high multiplier effect and consumption of local goods and services. However, research on the economic impacts of tourism has shown that this potential has rarely been fully realized (Liu, 2003 ).

Numerous studies have examined the impact of tourism expenditure on GDP, income, employment, and public sector revenue. Narayan ( 2004 ) used a computable general equilibrium model to estimate the economic impact of tourism growth on the economy of Fiji. Tourism is Fiji’s largest industry, with average annual growth of 10–12%; and as a middle-income country, tourism is critical to Fiji’s economic development. The findings indicate that an increase in tourism expenditures was associated with an increase in GDP, an improvement in the country’s balance of payments, and an increase in real consumption and national welfare. Evidence suggests that the benefits of tourism expansion outweigh any export effects caused by an appreciation of the exchange rate and an increase in domestic prices and wages.

Seetanah ( 2011 ) examined the potential contribution of tourism to economic growth and development using panel data of 19 island economies around the world from 1990 to 2007 and revealed that tourism development is an important factor in explaining economic performance in the selected island economies. The results have policy implications for improving economic growth by harnessing the contribution of the tourism sector. Pratt ( 2015 ) modeled the economic impact of tourism for seven small island developing states in the Pacific, the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean. In most states, the transportation sector was found to have above-average linkages to other sectors of the economy. The results revealed some advantages of economies of scale for maximizing the economic contribution of tourism.

Apergis and Payne ( 2012 ) examined the causal relationship between tourism and economic growth for a panel of nine Caribbean countries. The panel of Caribbean countries includes Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. The authors use a panel error correction model to reveal bidirectional causality between tourism and economic growth in both the short run and the long run. The presence of bidirectional causality reiterates the importance of the tourism sector in the generation of foreign exchange income and in financing the production of goods and services within these countries. Likewise, stable political institutions and adequate government policies to ensure the appropriate investment in physical and human capital will enhance economic growth. In turn, stable economic growth will provide the resources needed to develop the tourism infrastructure for the success of the countries’ tourism sector. Thus, policy makers should be cognizant of the interdependent relationship between tourism and economic growth in the design and implementation of economic policy. The mixed nature of these results suggest that the relationship between tourism and economic growth depends largely on the social and economic context as well as the role of tourism in the economy.

The economic benefits and costs of tourism are frequently distributed unevenly. An analysis of the impact of wildlife conservation policies in Zambia on household welfare found that households located near national parks earn higher levels of income from wage employment and self-employment than other rural households in the country, but they were also more likely to suffer crop losses related to wildlife conflicts (Richardson et al., 2012 ). The findings suggest that tourism development and wildlife conservation can contribute to pro-poor development, but they may be sustainable only if human–wildlife conflicts are minimized or compensated.

Environmental Impacts of Tourism

The environmental impacts of tourism are significant, ranging from local effects to contributions to global environmental change (Gössling & Peeters, 2015 ). Tourism is both dependent on water resources and a factor in global and local freshwater use. Tourists consume water for drinking, when showering and using the toilet, when participating in activities such as winter ski tourism (i.e., snowmaking), and when using swimming pools and spas. Fresh water is also needed to maintain hotel gardens and golf courses, and water use is embedded in tourism infrastructure development (e.g., accommodations, laundry, dining) and in food and fuel production. Direct water consumption in tourism is estimated to be approximately 350 liters (L) per guest night for accommodation; when indirect water use from food, energy, and transport are considered, total water use in tourism is estimated to be approximately 6,575 L per guest night, or 27,800 L per person per trip (Gössling & Peeters, 2015 ). In addition, tourism contributes to the pollution of oceans as well as lakes, rivers, and other freshwater systems (Gössling, 2002 ; Gössling et al., 2011 ).

The clearing and conversion of land is central for tourism development, and in many cases, the land used for tourism includes roads, airports, railways, accommodations, trails, pedestrian walks, shopping areas, parking areas, campgrounds, vacation homes, golf courses, marinas, ski resorts, and indirect land use for food production, disposal of solid wastes, and the treatment of wastewater (Gössling & Peeters, 2015 ). Global land use for accommodation is estimated to be approximately 42 m 2 per bed. Total global land use for tourism is estimated to be nearly 62,000 km 2 , or 11.7 m 2 per tourist; more than half of this estimate is represented by land use for traffic infrastructure.

Tourism and hospitality have direct and indirect links to nearly all aspects of food production, preparation, and consumption because of the quantities of food consumed in tourism contexts (Gössling et al., 2011 ). Food production has significant implications for sustainable development, given the growing global demand for food. The implications include land conversion, losses to biodiversity, changes in nutrient cycling, and contributions to greenhouse emissions that are associated with global climate change (Vitousek et al., 1997 ). Global food use for tourism is estimated to be approximately 39.4 megatons 1 (Mt), about 38% than the amount of food consumed at home. This equates to approximately 1,800 grams (g) of food consumed per tourist per day.

Although tourism has been promoted as a low-impact, nonextractive option for economic development, (Gössling, 2000 ), assessments reveal that such pursuits have a significant carbon footprint, as tourism is significantly more carbon intensive than other potential areas of economic development (Lenzen et al., 2018 ). Tourism is dependent on energy, and virtually all energy use in the tourism sector is derived from fossil fuels, which contribute to global greenhouse emissions that are associated with global climate change. Energy use for tourism has been estimated to be approximately 3,575 megajoules 2 (MJ) per trip, including energy for travel and accommodations (Gössling & Peeters, 2015 ). A previous estimate of global carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions from tourism provided values of 1.12 gigatons 3 (Gt) of CO 2 , amounting to about 3% of global CO 2 -equivalent (CO 2 e) emissions (Gössling & Peeters, 2015 ). However, these analyses do not cover the supply chains underpinning tourism and do not therefore represent true carbon footprints. A more complete analysis of the emissions from energy consumption necessary to sustain the tourism sector would include food and beverages, infrastructure construction and maintenance, retail, and financial services. Between 2009 and 2013 , tourism’s global carbon footprint is estimated to have increased from 3.9 to 4.5 GtCO 2 e, four times more than previously estimated, accounting for about 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions (Lenzen et al., 2018 ). The majority of this footprint is exerted by and within high-income countries. The rising global demand for tourism is outstripping efforts at decarbonization of tourism operations and as a result is accelerating global carbon emissions.

Social Impacts of Tourism

The social impacts of tourism have been widely studied, with an emphasis on residents’ perceptions in the host community (Sharpley, 2014 ). Case studies include research conducted in Australia (Faulkner & Tideswell, 1997 ; Gursoy et al., 2010 ; Tovar & Lockwood, 2008 ), Belize (Diedrich & Garcia-Buades, 2008 ), China (Gu & Ryan, 2008 ), Fiji (King et al., 1993 ), Greece (Haralambopoulos & Pizam, 1996 ; Tsartas, 1992 ), Hungary (Rátz, 2000 ), Thailand (Huttasin, 2008 ), Turkey (Kuvan & Akan, 2005 ), the United Kingdom (Brunt & Courtney, 1999 ; Haley et al., 2005 ), and the United States (Andereck et al., 2005 ; Milman & Pizam, 1988 ), among others. The social impacts of tourism are difficult to measure, and most published studies are mainly concerned with the social impacts on the host communities rather than the impacts on the tourists themselves.

Studies of residents’ perceptions of tourism are typically conducted using household surveys. In most cases, residents recognize the economic dependence on tourism for income, and there is substantial evidence to suggest that working in or owning a business in tourism or a related industry is associated with more positive perceptions of tourism (Andereck et al., 2007 ). The perceived nature of negative effects is complex and often conveys a dislike of crowding, traffic congestion, and higher prices for basic needs (Deery et al., 2012 ). When the number of tourists far exceeds that of the resident population, negative attitudes toward tourism may manifest (Diedrich & Garcia-Buades, 2008 ). However, residents who recognize negative impacts may not necessarily oppose tourism development (King et al., 1993 ).

In some regions, little is known about the social and cultural impacts of tourism despite its dominance as an economic sector. Tourism is a rapidly growing sector in Cuba, and it is projected to grow at rates that exceed the average projected growth rates for the Caribbean and the world overall (Salinas et al., 2018 ). Still, even though there has been rapid tourism development in Cuba, there has been little research related to the environmental and sociocultural impacts of this tourism growth (Rutty & Richardson, 2019 ).

In some international tourism contexts, studies have found that residents are generally resentful toward tourism because it fuels inequality and exacerbates racist attitudes and discrimination (Cabezas, 2004 ; Jamal & Camargo, 2014 ; Mbaiwa, 2005 ). Other studies revealed similar narratives and recorded statements of exclusion and socioeconomic stratification (Sanchez & Adams, 2008 ). Local residents often must navigate the gaps in the racialized, gendered, and sexualized structures imposed by the global tourism industry and host-country governments (Cabezas, 2004 ).

However, during times of economic crisis, residents may develop a more permissive view as their perceptions of the costs of tourism development decrease (Garau-Vadell et al., 2018 ). This increased positive attitude is not based on an increase in the perception of positive impacts of tourism, but rather on a decrease in the perception of the negative impacts.

There is a growing body of research on Indigenous and Aboriginal tourism that emphasizes justice issues such as human rights and self-empowerment, control, and participation of traditional owners in comanagement of destinations (Jamal & Camargo, 2014 ; Ryan & Huyton, 2000 ; Whyte, 2010 ).

Sustainability of Tourism

A process or system is said to be sustainable to the extent that it is robust, resilient, and adaptive (Anderies et al., 2013 ). By most measures, the global tourism system does not meet these criteria for sustainability. Tourism is not robust in that it cannot resist threats and perturbations, such as economic shocks, public health pandemics, war, and other disruptions. Tourism is not resilient in that it does not easily recover from failures, such as natural disasters or civil unrest. Furthermore, tourism is not adaptive in that it is often unable to change in response to external conditions. One example that underscores the failure to meet all three criteria is the dependence of tourism on fossil fuels for transportation and energy, which are key inputs for tourism development. This dependence itself is not sustainable (Wheeller, 2007 ), and thus the sustainability of tourism is questionable.

Liu ( 2003 ) notes that research related to the role of tourism in sustainable development has emphasized supply-side concepts such as sustaining tourism resources and ignored the demand side, which is particularly vulnerable to social and economic shocks. Tourism is vulnerable to both localized and global shocks. Studies of the vulnerability of tourism to localized shocks include disaster vulnerability in coastal Thailand (Calgaro & Lloyd, 2008 ), bushfires in northeast Victoria in Australia (Cioccio & Michael, 2007 ), forest fires in British Columbia, Canada (Hystad & Keller, 2008 ); and outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the United Kingdom (Miller & Ritchie, 2003 ).

Like most other economic sectors, tourism is vulnerable to the impacts of earthquakes, particularly in areas where tourism infrastructure may not be resilient to such shocks. Numerous studies have examined the impacts of earthquake events on tourism, including studies of the aftermath of the 1997 earthquake in central Italy (Mazzocchi & Montini, 2001 ), the 1999 earthquake in Taiwan (Huan et al., 2004 ; Huang & Min, 2002 ), and the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in western Sichuan, China (Yang et al., 2011 ), among others.

Tourism is vulnerable to extreme weather events. Regional economic strength has been found to be associated with lower vulnerability to natural disasters. Kim and Marcoullier ( 2015 ) examined the vulnerability and resilience of 10 tourism-based regional economies that included U.S. national parks or protected seashores situated on the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean coastline that were affected by several hurricanes over a 26-year period. Regions with stronger economic characteristics prior to natural disasters were found to have lower disaster losses than regions with weaker economies.

Tourism is extremely sensitive to oil spills, whatever their origin, and the volume of oil released need not be large to generate significant economic losses (Cirer-Costa, 2015 ). Studies of the vulnerability of tourism to the localized shock of an oil spill include research on the impacts of oil spills in Alaska (Coddington, 2015 ), Brazil (Ribeiro et al., 2020 ), Spain (Castanedo et al., 2009 ), affected regions in the United States along the Gulf of Mexico (Pennington-Gray et al., 2011 ; Ritchie et al., 2013 ), and the Republic of Korea (Cheong, 2012 ), among others. Future research on the vulnerability of tourist destinations to oil spills should also incorporate freshwater environments, such as lakes, rivers, and streams, where the rupture of oil pipelines is more frequent.

Significant attention has been paid to assessing the vulnerability of tourist destinations to acts of terrorism and the impacts of terrorist attacks on regional tourist economies (Liu & Pratt, 2017 ). Such studies include analyses of the impacts of terrorist attacks on three European countries, Greece, Italy, and Austria (Enders et al., 1992 ); the impact of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States (Goodrich, 2002 ); terrorism and tourism in Nepal (Bhattarai et al., 2005 ); vulnerability of tourism livelihoods in Bali (Baker & Coulter, 2007 ); the impact of terrorism on tourist preferences for destinations in the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands (Arana & León, 2008 ); the 2011 massacres in Olso and Utøya, Norway (Wolff & Larsen, 2014 ); terrorism and political violence in Tunisia (Lanouar & Goaied, 2019 ); and the impact of terrorism on European tourism (Corbet et al., 2019 ), among others. Pizam and Fleischer ( 2002 ) studied the impact of acts of terrorism on tourism demand in Israel between May 1991 and May 2001 , and they confirmed that the frequency of acts of terrorism had caused a larger decline in international tourist arrivals than the severity of these acts. Most of these are ex post studies, and future assessments of the underlying conditions of destinations could reveal a deeper understanding of the vulnerability of tourism to terrorism.

Tourism is vulnerable to economic crisis, both local economic shocks (Okumus & Karamustafa, 2005 ; Stylidis & Terzidou, 2014 ) and global economic crisis (Papatheodorou et al., 2010 ; Smeral, 2010 ). Okumus and Karamustafa ( 2005 ) evaluated the impact of the February 2001 economic crisis in Turkey on tourism, and they found that the tourism industry was poorly prepared for the economic crisis despite having suffered previous impacts related to the Gulf War in the early 1990s, terrorism in Turkey in the 1990s, the civil war in former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, an internal economic crisis in 1994 , and two earthquakes in the northwest region of Turkey in 1999 . In a study of the attitudes and perceptions of citizens of Greece, Stylidis and Terzidou ( 2014 ) found that economic crisis is associated with increased support for tourism development, particularly out of self-interest. Economic crisis diminishes residents’ concern for environmental issues. In a study of the behavior of European tourists amid an economic crisis, Eugenio-Martin and Campos-Soria ( 2014 ) found that the probability of households cutting back on travel expenditures depends largely on the climate and economic conditions of tourists’ home countries, and households that do reduce travel spending engage in tourism closer to home.

Becken and Lennox ( 2012 ) studied the implications of a long-term increase in oil prices for tourism in New Zealand, and they estimate that a doubling of oil prices is associated with a 1.7% decrease in real gross national disposable income and a 9% reduction in the real value of tourism exports. Chatziantoniou et al. ( 2013 ) investigated the relationship among oil price shocks, tourism variables, and economic indicators in four European Mediterranean countries and found that aggregate demand oil price shocks generated a lagged effect on tourism-generated income and economic growth. Kisswani et al. ( 2020 ) examined the asymmetric effect of oil prices on tourism receipts and the sensitive susceptibility of tourism to oil price changes using nonlinear analysis. The findings document a long-run asymmetrical effect for most countries, after incorporating the structural breaks, suggesting that governments and tourism businesses and organizations should interpret oil price fluctuations cautiously.

Finally, the sustainability of tourism has been shown to be vulnerable to the outbreak of infectious diseases, including the impact of the Ebola virus on tourism in sub-Saharan Africa (Maphanga & Henama, 2019 ; Novelli et al., 2018 ) and in the United States (Cahyanto et al., 2016 ). The literature also includes studies of the impact of swine flu on tourism demand in Brunei (Haque & Haque, 2018 ), Mexico (Monterrubio, 2010 ), and the United Kingdom (Page et al., 2012 ), among others. In addition, rapid assessments of the impacts of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 have documented severe disruptions and cessations of tourism because of unprecedented global travel restrictions and widespread restrictions on public gatherings (Gössling et al., 2020 ; Qiu et al., 2020 ; Sharma & Nicolau, 2020 ). Hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and car rentals have all experienced a significant decrease globally because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the shock to the industry is significant enough to warrant concerns about the long-term outlook (Sharma & Nicolau, 2020 ). Qiu et al. ( 2020 ) estimated the social costs of the pandemic to tourism in three cities in China (Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Wuhan), and they found that most respondents were willing to pay for risk reduction and action in responding to the pandemic crisis; there was no significant difference between residents’ willingness to pay in the three cities. Some research has emphasized how lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic can prepare global tourism for an economic transformation that is needed to mitigate the impacts of climate change (Brouder, 2020 ; Prideaux et al., 2020 ).

It is clear that tourism has contributed significantly to economic development globally, but its role in sustainable development is uncertain, contested, and potentially paradoxical. This is due, in part, to the contested nature of sustainable development itself. Tourism has been promoted as a low-impact, nonextractive option for economic development, particularly for developing countries (Gössling, 2000 ), and many countries have managed to increase their participation in the global economy through development of international tourism. Tourism development has been viewed as an important sector for investment to enhance economic growth, poverty alleviation, and food security, and the sector provides an alternative opportunity to large-scale development projects and extractive industries that contribute to emissions of pollutants and threaten biodiversity and cultural values. However, global evidence from research on the economic impacts of tourism has shown that this potential has rarely been realized (Liu, 2003 ).

The role of tourism in sustainable development has been studied extensively and with a variety of perspectives, including the conceptualization of alternative or responsible forms of tourism and the examination of economic, environmental, and social impacts of tourism development. The research has generally concluded that tourism development has contributed to sustainable development in some cases where it is demonstrated to have provided support for biodiversity conservation initiatives and livelihood development strategies. As an economic sector, tourism is considered to be labor intensive, providing opportunities for poor households to enhance their livelihood through the sale of goods and services to foreign tourists.

Nature-based tourism approaches such as ecotourism and community-based tourism have been successful at attracting tourists to parks and protected areas, and their spending provides financial support for biodiversity conservation, livelihoods, and economic growth in developing countries. Nevertheless, studies of the impacts of tourism development have documented negative environmental impacts locally in terms of land use, food and water consumption, and congestion, and globally in terms of the contribution of tourism to climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases related to transportation and other tourist activities. Studies of the social impacts of tourism have documented experiences of discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, race, sex, and national identity.

The sustainability of tourism as an economic sector has been examined in terms of its vulnerability to civil conflict, economic shocks, natural disasters, and public health pandemics. Most studies conclude that tourism may have positive impacts for regional development and environmental conservation, but there is evidence that tourism inherently generates negative environmental impacts, primarily through pollutions stemming from transportation. The regional benefits of tourism development must be considered alongside the global impacts of increased transportation and tourism participation. Global tourism has also been shown to be vulnerable to economic crises, oil price shocks, and global outbreaks of infectious diseases. Given that tourism is dependent on energy, the movement of people, and the consumption of resources, virtually all tourism activities have significant economic, environmental, and sustainable impacts. As such, the role of tourism in sustainable development is highly questionable. Future research on the role of tourism in sustainable development should focus on reducing the negative impacts of tourism development, both regionally and globally.

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1. One megatonne (Mt) is equal to 1 million (10 6 ) metric tons.

2. One megajoule (MJ) is equal to 1 million (10 6 ) joules, or approximately the kinetic energy of a 1-megagram (tonne) vehicle moving at 161 km/h.

3. One gigatonne (Gt) is equal to 1 billion (10 9 ) metric tons.

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The importance of sustainability in tourism.

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  • March 25, 2020

Importance of sustainability

Creating a futureproof tourism industry

Tour operators have the possibility and responsibility to contribute to creating a futureproof tourism industry. It’s safe to say the tourism industry has great impact on economies and that it leaves a large footprint on the environment. Tourism also has the potential of benefiting the local economy , protecting the environment and protecting the future of tourism, if done sustainably.

Negative effects of tourism

Tourism can cause negative effects to its destinations. Due to the size of the tourism industry, the caused damage is enormous. A few examples of negative effects are:

  • Overtourism
  • Loss of cultural identity of destinations
  • Increased (plastic) pollution
  • Exploitation of wild animals for tourist entertainment
  • Destruction of monuments
  • Dependency on tourism

Luckily, the tourism industry can take responsibility and move towards a more sustainable tourism industry. It all comes down to tourism management and the choices tour operators make in their business. For example, their choices can support preservation of wildlife and nature , but on the other hand, it can put the animals into suffering.

The triple bottom line

Sustainable tourism is the best chance for tour operators to limit the negative effects of tourism and focus on maximising the positive effects instead. One of the most used models in sustainability is the triple bottom line. This framework focuses on balancing between people, planet and profit. It evaluates business performance and puts it in a broader perspective. All in order to create greater business value .

People, planet and profit-model

Sustainability in tourism is not a trick or marketing tool. It’s simply a way to ensure we can still travel in the future. It focuses on preserving the planet, taking care of each other and ourselves, and leaving a positive footprint. By basing our tourism practices upon People, Planet and Profit, we can ensure a futureproof tourism industry.

The aspect of planet is all about protecting natural areas and wildlife and supporting a viable natural environment. Focusing on the planet bottom line for a tour operator means contributing to conservation of natural areas, safeguarding wildlife and following animal welfare guidelines, using renewable energy resources, saving water and energy, reducing and recycling waste, and to reduce and compensate CO2 emissions .

The aspect of people focuses to take care of local communities and employees . To ensure equal opportunities, human rights and personal development for everyone. As tour operator, you can ensure a fair society by being collaborative and respectful towards local communities. Involve them in the benefits of tourism. Thereby, also be fair and transparent towards your employees and offer them development and growth opportunities.

The aspect of profit concentrates on a sufficient economy and profitable business growth. Within the tourism industry, we need funds to create positive impact worldwide and to make changes in our industry. As tour operator, contribute to this by making sure you run an ethical business. Prevent leakage by buying local products and services and invest in responsible projects and use your profitable growth to do good for the world and yourself.

Common grounds

By combining the different elements you can increase your impact:

  • The overlap between planet and people focuses on health & safety, legislation and public awareness about protecting the environment and benefitting local people
  • The overlap of planet and profit focuses on resource efficiency, global climate and energy issues
  • The overlap of planet and people focus on local economies, employment, and training and development

As tour operator, it’s important to determine how sustainability fits into your business. It will work differently for you than for your competitor. And that’s a good thing! At the Good Tourism Institute, we believe that sustainable tourism and making profits can go hand in hand. You can run a successful business, and care for the environment, local communities and animal welfare at the same time.

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I like your idea so munch Anne & Rik. It would be very nice if you could especially help the small ones in business with concrete tools

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Happy to hear you like the Good Tourism Institute! The upcoming time we will be regularly posting new additions to our library. What subjects would interest you most?

Kind regards, Rik

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Thank you so much for these insights .Hopefully by end of this course ,we should be implementing concrete sustainability actions as we do business

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You’re welcome @ojambo and yes that’s the goal! Good luck with the next steps of the course.

Its a good one and way to go for the longterm survival of the earth plus its Fauna and Flora

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Anne de Jong

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sustainable tourism importance


Sustainability is a concept that has been gaining social and political recognition, not least due to the coordinated launch of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, and now with the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Established in 2015 and promoted by the United Nations, the SDGs are key to ensuring an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable world.

The 2030 Agenda is the reference framework for all UN agencies, programs and funds, and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is responsible for ensuring international tourism plays its part in its achievement.

The following guidelines have been established:

  • The principle of sustainability refers not just to the environmental impact of tourism but also to its social and economic impacts.
  • To protect and preserve the natural spaces and biological ecosystems of destinations.
  • To respect the traditions and cultures of host countries and develop intercultural tolerance.
  • To ensure economic activities that reduce poverty in the host country.

These guidelines are only the first link in a whole chain that is concerned with and advocates sustainable tourism.

These guidelines mean that as tourism restarts, the sector is ready to grow back stronger and better for people, planet and prosperity.

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sustainable tourism importance

  • A/70/472 - Sustainable development: report of the Second Committee [Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish]
  • A/RES/70/193 - International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, 2017 [Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish]
  • A/RES/70/196 - Sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America [Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish]
  • A/RES/70/200 - Global Code of Ethics for Tourism [Arabic] [Chinese] [English] [French] [Russian] [Spanish]
  • Compendium of Best Practices in Sustainable Tourism

sustainable tourism importance


The importance of sustainable tourism

Typically, when people think of sustainable tourism they consider how it impacts the environment. But, it also takes into account the current and future economic, social and environmental impact of its activities .

In order to have sustainability fully incorporated into tourism there is a lot to consider, from laws and regulations to the local people and demand from tourists. That is why, it is important to not only look at sustainable tourism from the perspective of the tourism provider but also from that of an individual tourist. Every cog in the machine is crucial to ensure that sustainable tourism thrives.

The benefits of sustainable tourism

There are many strong benefits to be gained from committing to sustainable tourism, the three main umbrella points being: helping the creating environment, it’s economic advantages for the destination, and providing support to local communities. Not only this but creating tourism that is sustainable has the advantage of creating sustainable mobility, meaning that the activities can continue and are more future-proofed.

Supporting the environment is key to sustainability in tourism. In order to do this issues such as waste, contamination and the use of non-organic products as well as over-tourism must be considered when providing an experience to tourists.

As previously discussed, local communities also benefit from this type of tourism, as being a part of the decision-making process for tourism development ensures that they are protected from inflation, their culture is safeguarded and they benefit from the income streams that are brought to the area by tourism.

It can help the area prosper and continue to protect itself within tourism. It is clear, that this then becomes a positive cycle – with benefits for everyone involved in the process.

Why is sustainability so important?

From the previous section it is clear that this is crucial to the continued development of the tourism industry. Some places have had the issue of over-tourism; where many tourists go to one destination creating the need for more accommodation and attractions. This then leads to natural areas and resources being rerouted for the tourist which means local wildlife suffers and locals are competing for resources. Therefore, tourism that is sustainable helps in preventing this cycle is crucial for the development of the industry to continue and thrive.

Sustainable tourism has been a growing trend, coming to the forefront in 2017 when the UN declared it the year of sustainable tourism for development. And today, with the benefits of less tourism becoming clearer as the coronavirus continues to delay tourism .

How can you ensure sustainable tourism is achieved?

There are many ways to ensure that you are a sustainable tourist and that you provide tourism that is sustainable within your area many of which are two sides of the same coin. For example, taking more environmentally friendly transportation and becoming a part of the ‘ slow travel ’ trend can be considered by the individual tourist and promoted by tourism operators. The same can be said for waste and the choices made around it. As a tourist, choosing organic options in shops and reducing the plastic you buy can help make tourism more sustainable, and those within the tourism industry can choose to use locally purified water and provide more organic and recyclable options for visitors. Contributing to the local economy is also key to ensuring sustainable tourism, by buying and providing souvenirs from locals the cultural heritage and economy is supported by both sides of the tourism industry.

For practical ways to ensure you are providing a sustainable tourism experience read ‘ Going Green: Case Study of the Europe Hotel and Resort, Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland ’ . Sustainable tourism is incredibly important for the continued development of the tourism industry. If you found this blog interesting you may also enjoy ‘ Building a Sustainable Events Industry in Ireland: Industry Insights on Green Skills and Best Practice ’, ‘ Interview with Sophie van den Top – sustainability among Tour Operators and Travel Agents ’ and ‘ The Next Tourism Generation project and Overtourism – case of Italy ’.

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Sustainable Tourism – A Pathway to Sustainable Development

The expansion of tourism has brought forth substantial repercussions on both natural and human landscapes, prompting a paradigm shift towards sustainable development. The concept of sustainability, though rooted in earlier decades, has gained widespread acceptance as the guiding principle for the industry's future trajectory. Sustainable tourism transcends mere economic viability, embracing ecological integrity, long-term resilience, and its pivotal role in broader sustainable development agendas (Butler, 2001). It strives to foster practices within the tourism domain that yield positive outcomes across economic, societal, and environmental realms (UNWTO, 2024). Achieving sustainable tourism necessitates concerted efforts from diverse stakeholders, coupled with robust political leadership to ensure inclusivity and consensus. The remarkable growth of tourism over the years has not only fueled economic prosperity but has also emerged as a primary engine for job creation and wealth distribution. Statistical evidence from 2017 reveals that the tourism sector made a direct contribution of approximately 2.6 trillion US dollars to the global economy, highlighting its immense economic significance (UNEP & WTO, 2015).

This positive impact of sustainable tourism on the global economy has been halted by the pandemic and geopolitical conflicts. The pandemic has affected sustainable tourism and development in economic, environmental, social, and policy areas. The sudden halt in travel and tourism caused significant job losses, business closures, and revenue shortages, threatening sustainable tourism programs globally (Higgins-Desbiolles, 2020). This halt jeopardized ecological and wildlife conservation efforts that depend on the tourism industry. In addition, the pandemic showed the vulnerability of tourist-dependent communities, emphasizing the necessity for diversified economic strategies and sustainable tourism practices that stress local empowerment and equitable benefit-sharing (Guo et al., 2023).

Similarly, Geopolitical unrest in the world affects sustainable development and in turn sustainable development. Endangerment of cultural heritage sites, local communities are displaced, experience economic instability, and lose their means of subsistence. Tourists are deterred from visiting conflict zones due to the inherent dangers involved, which decreases visitor counts and revenue streams. This further undermines sustainable development initiatives and further weakens local economies. Moreover, the presence of geopolitical tensions may impede cross-border collaboration on sustainable tourism initiatives and disrupt global cooperation, thereby restricting the flow of information, and resources. Ultimately, broader endeavors toward sustainable development are impeded by the instability and insecurity caused by geopolitical unrest and conflicts; this perpetuates cycles of poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation in the regions impacted (Georgescu et al., 2024).

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), established to guide global efforts toward sustainability, underscore the pivotal role of sustainable tourism as an effective pathway to achieving sustainable development. Specifically, SDG 8, with its Target 8.9, emphasizes the importance of promoting sustainable tourism to generate inclusive and sustainable economic growth, productive employment, and decent work for all (Venugopalan, 2021). Sustainable tourism development entails satisfying the present requirements of tourists and local people while preserving resources for future generations (Nguyen et al., 2022). This strategy prioritizes the balanced and coordinated growth of tourist activities in alignment with society, the economy, resources, and the environment. It represents a practical implementation of sustainable principles within the tourism industry (Wu et al., 2022).

To attain sustainable tourism, it is imperative to establish a comprehensive plan for sustainable tourism development. This plan should consider various factors including social engagement, the competency of state managers, the quality of tourism services, the caliber of human resources, infrastructure development, and the quality of tourism resources (Vu & Hartley, 2022). Furthermore, sustainable tourism should actively contribute to fulfilling the requirements of visitors, conserving the environment, improving the welfare of local populations, stimulating economic growth, and advocating for local culture (Tovmasyan, 2022). Engaging stakeholders, such as local communities, tourism companies, and tourists, is essential to guarantee that development yields favorable outcomes for all parties involved (Slivar, 2018).

Effective governance is crucial for the sustainable development of tourism, as it requires the implementation of policies and management practices that can effectively address global environmental concerns and support sustainable growth in the industry (Guo et al., 2019). Furthermore, the sustainable tourism sector greatly relies on community participation, where the active engagement of the community in shaping the policies for the growth of the tourism industry is essential for achieving success (CHAMIDAH et al., 2020). Destinations might strive to achieve 'responsible' tourism by embracing a vocabulary that promotes sustainable and responsible tourist practices (Mihalič et al., 2016). In conclusion, sustainable tourism serves as a pathway for sustainable development by promoting responsible practices that balance economic growth, environmental conservation, and socio-cultural well-being. By incorporating principles of sustainability into tourism development, destinations can ensure long-term benefits for all stakeholders involved, contributing to the overall goal of achieving sustainable development.

Recognizing that Discover Sustainability is an essential forum for discussing finance policy developments and interdisciplinary research that addresses all seventeen Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations. The purpose of the journal is to educate the public, policymakers, and researchers on how to sustain planetary and human health to ensure the well-being of present and future generations while adhering to the constraints of the natural world. This will be accomplished through this topical collection that aims to contribute to the literature on sustainable development goals, including the concepts, theories, and practices, to provide insights into the current state of the field. This topical collection welcomes research, reviews, perspectives, comments, brief communications, case Studies, registered reports, and data notes from across the full range of disciplines concerned with sustainability.

The Collection shall appreciate multi-study submissions, while quantitative, and qualitative studies will also be accepted.

• Financial mechanism to support Sustainable tourism

• Tourism resilience and economic recovery post-crisis

• The role of tourism in expanding protected areas

• Improvement in environmental accounting techniques in sustainable tourism

• Trends and patterns in sustainable tourism research over the past 25 years

• Community-based tourism development and its impact on sustainability

• Sustainable tourist motivation and its influence on sustainable practices

• Biodiversity conservation and ecotourism in the context of sustainability

• Visitor satisfaction monitoring in sustainable tourism destinations


Butler, R. W. (2001). Seasonality in tourism: Issues and implications. In Seasonality in tourism (pp. 5–21). Routledge.

CHAMIDAH, N., GUNTORO, B., & SULASTRI, E. (2020). Marketing Communication and Synergy of Pentahelix Strategy on Satisfaction and Sustainable Tourism. The Journal of Asian Finance, Economics and Business, 7(3), 177–190. https://doi.org/10.13106/jafeb.2020.vol7.no3.177

Georgescu, I. A., Oprea, S. V., & Bâra, A. (2024). An analysis of the geopolitical and economics influence on tourist arrivals in Russia using a nonlinear autoregressive distributed lag model. Kybernetes.

Guo, Q., Yin, S., Liu, Y., & Liu, H. (2019). Growth Characteristics and Influencing Factors of Small Tourism Enterprises: A Case Study of Hongcun Village. Tropical Geography, 39(5), 759–769. https://doi.org/10.13284/j.cnki.rddl.003131

Guo, Y., Zhu, L., & Zhao, Y. (2023). Tourism entrepreneurship in rural destinations: measuring the effects of capital configurations using the fsQCA approach. Tourism Review, 78(3), 834–848. https://doi.org/10.1108/TR-07-2022-0333

Higgins-Desbiolles, F. (2020). The “war over tourism”: challenges to sustainable tourism in the tourism academy after COVID-19. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 29(4), 551–569. https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2020.1803334

Mihalič, T., Šegota, T., Knežević Cvelbar, L., & Kuščer, K. (2016). The influence of the political environment and destination governance on sustainable tourism development: a study of Bled, Slovenia. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 24(11), 1489–1505. https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2015.1134557

Nguyen, T. Q. T., Johnson, P., & Young, T. (2022). Networking, coopetition and sustainability of tourism destinations. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 50, 400–411. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhtm.2022.01.003

Slivar, I. (2018). Stakeholders in a Tourist Destination – Matrix of Possible Relationships Towards Sustainability. Open Journal for Research in Economics, 1(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.32591/coas.ojre.0101.01001s

Tovmasyan, G. (2022). Promoting female entrepreneurship in tourism for sustainable development. Marketing and Management of Innovations, 1(1), 18–36. https://doi.org/10.21272/mmi.2022.1-02

UNEP, & WTO. (2015). Making Toruism More Sustainable. Unep, 53(9), 11–12.

UNWTO. (2024). TOURISM NEWS International Tourism to Reach Pre-Pandemic (Issue 34).

Venugopalan, T. (2021). Tourism and Sustainability in India – Exploring Sustainability of Goa Tourism from the Perspective of Local Community. European Journal of Business and Management Research, 6(3), 34–41. https://doi.org/10.24018/ejbmr.2021.6.3.852

Vu, K., & Hartley, K. (2022). Drivers of Growth and Catch-up in the Tourism Sector of Industrialized Economies. Journal of Travel Research, 61(5), 1156–1172. https://doi.org/10.1177/00472875211019478

Wu, D., Li, H., & Wang, Y. (2022). Measuring sustainability and competitiveness of tourism destinations with data envelopment analysis. Journal of Sustainable Tourism. https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2022.2042699

László Vasa

Dr. László Vasa, Professor, Széchenyi István University, Hungary. After his degrees in agricultural economics, German-Hungarian translation and international MBA studies, he completed his PhD and habilitation at Széchenyi István University, Hungary. He worked as an associate professor at this university, where he also acted as the vice dean for international affairs of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences. László is a research professor of the Széchenyi István University and a private professor. His main fields of research are economics of transition, Post-Soviet studies and international issues of agricultural economics.

Gagan Deep Sharma

Dr. Gagan Deep Sharma, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, India Gagan's fields of research interest include Energy Economics, Behavioral Economics, Financial Economics, and Critical Literature Reviews. He is currently the Associate Editor of JPA (Wiley), and CG (Emerald); and Editorial Board member of IJoEM (Emerald). His prominent publications are in Energy Economics, RSER, TFSC, JBR, Energy Policy, JEMA, IEEE-TEM, etc. His area of specialization is sustainable development, energy economics, green finance, neuro-finance, and evolutionary economics. He has more than 20 years of experience in Teaching, Research and Industry.

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12 innovative sustainable tourism attractions you can visit around the world

Sarah Reid

Apr 4, 2022 • 5 min read

MAY 19, 2019: The Rain Vortex inside the Jewel Changi Airport at night.

Check out these innovative sustainable attractions worldwide, like the Jewel at Changi Airport © Travel man / Shutterstock

More and more travelers are looking beyond the most affordable and comfortable way to travel and are putting more thought into how their choices might affect the destination they want to visit. 

As travel priorities shift, on top of having a great time travelers increasingly want to do the right thing by the places they visit. In this extract from Sustainable Escapes , Lonely Planet looks at how 12 worldwide tourist attractions have approached sustainability in an innovative way. 

Jewel at Changi, Singapore, is an indoor oasis

First came Gardens by the Bay with its solar-harvesting Supertrees, and in 2019 Singapore upped its urban garden game with an airport terminal you’ll never want to leave. Harnessing cutting-edge sustainable technology, Jewel at Changi is a green oasis, complete with a hedge maze, a canopy bridge, and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

The Points Guy:  8 sustainable travel tips from expert green travelers

New York's Climate Museum aims to inspire action on the climate crisis

New York City ’s Climate Museum has won a legion of fans for over 200 innovative public exhibitions and events it has hosted around the city since 2017. Examples include youth spoken-word programs dedicated to themes of climate change;  Climate Signals , a city-wide public art installation by US artist Justin Brice Guariglia, which flashed climate change alerts in five languages; and Beyond Lies , a public art exhibition by British illustrator and journalist Mona Chalabi, that examines climate disinformation from the fossil fuel industry. 

View of Cape Town taken from within the cable car on approach to the top of Table Mountain. The cables of the carbon-neutral cableway are overhead.

Cape Town's Table Mountain cableway has been carbon-neutral since 2016

Hiking Table Mountain is a quintessential Cape Town experience. But those who prefer to ride the cable car can still feel good about it. The cableway has been carbon-neutral since 2016, and maintains one of the most cohesive responsible tourism policies around, with careful water management and waste reduction practices in place.

Copenhill, Copenhagen's ski slope, is on top of a power plant

Urban ski slopes typically take the form of emissions-emitting indoor centers. But not Copenhill . Opened in 2019, this artificial ski slope sits atop Amager Bakke, a waste-to-power plant central to Copenhagen ’s goal of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral city . The complex also has a 280ft (85m) climbing wall (the world’s highest) and, like all good ski resorts, an après-ski bar.

A red, two-carriage train stands outside a station. The roof of the train is covered in solar panels.

Byron Bay, Australia, has the world's first solar-powered train 

Connecting the center of surf town  Byron Bay  to a vibrant arts estate, the world’s first solar-powered train made its maiden journey on a scenic 1.9 mile (3km) stretch of disused rail line in 2017. In lieu of ticket machines, fares are collected by a conductor on the beautifully refurbished heritage train.

Sustainability is central at the Azurmendi restaurant near Bilbao, Spain

Proving it’s haute to be sustainable, Azurmendi , a three-Michelin-star restaurant near Bilbao , has twice won the sustainable restaurant award from World’s 50 Best Restaurants . The hilltop atrium building harnesses solar and geothermal energy, and guests can tour the on-site greenhouses and vegetable gardens that supply the inventive menus.

A family of two adults and two children stand on a rope bridge surrounded by jungle. A glass roof arches above them.

England's Eden Project recreates major climate systems

Occupying the site of an excavated china clay pit, the Eden Project education charity and visitor’s center in Cornwall , England , features huge biomes housing exhibitions, gardens, and the largest indoor rainforest in the world. It’s also home to the UK’s longest and fastest zip line, and a play tower for kids designed to introduce little ones to the concept of pollination. 

Ocean Atlas in the Bahamas is an artwork and artificial reef

British sculptor and environmental activist Jason deCaires Taylor is famous for his surreal underwater sculptures that double as artificial reefs. Ocean Atlas  – depicting a young girl supporting the ceiling of the water, much like the mythological Greek Titan shouldered the burden of the heavens – is a 60-plus-ton sculpture in Nassau , intended to symbolize the environmental burden we are asking future generations to carry.

An upwards shot taken within the huge cooling tower of an ex-power plant, with people on swings of a fairground ride at the top.

A former nuclear reactor is now a theme park at Wunderland Kalkar, Germany

Following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster , German authorities decided not to put its new multi-billion-euro nuclear reactor near the Dutch border into operation. But it wasn’t a complete write-off. In the 1990s, the site was transformed into Wunderland Kalkar , an amusement park, complete with a swing ride inside the reactor’s cooling tower.

Vena Cava winery in Mexico is constructed from recycled materials

Vena Cava calls itself the hippest winery in Mexico , and when you lay eyes on this all-organic Baja winery – which was constructed from reclaimed fishing boats and other recycled materials – it’s difficult to disagree. Better yet, its cellar door is open for tastings every day of the week.

Minimize your impact when bird-watching from Tij Observatory, Netherlands

Taking its form from a tern’s egg, Tij Observatory is a stunning public birdwatching observatory in Scheelhoek Nature Reserve in Stellendam, the Netherlands , designed to rest as lightly on nature as possible. Built with sustainable wood and clad in thatched reeds, the observatory is reached via a tunnel built from recycled bulkheads to minimize disturbance to birds.

Jubileumsparken is a huge park project in Gothenburg , Sweden

The city of Lund might be getting a bicycle-powered museum in 2024, but there’s another great ecofriendly Swedish attraction you can visit now. Jubileumsparken is the ongoing redevelopment of a Gothenburg port area into an ultra-sustainable leisure hub to meet residents' requests for better access to the river and more green areas in the city. Two baths and a sauna were constructed, with ongoing work to introduce new children's play areas. Gothenburg has been ranked number one sustainable destination in the Global Destination Sustainability Index five times.

You might also like: 10 incredible places to learn to scuba dive    8 rewilding projects you can visit in Europe    The world's eco-luxury resorts that are worth the hype   

This article was first published Oct 5, 2020 and updated Apr 4, 2022.

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  • Sustainability

Sustainability is not a practice in Costa Rica ; it is a way of life.

With a goal to be the first carbon neutral country in the world by 2021, sustainable practices are observed in every region of the country, across all industries, adopted by all citizens and embraced by visitors. From local Costa Rican cuisine to artisan crafts to traditional customs and celebrations, sustainability is embedded deeply in the culture and traditions of Costa Rica.

Costa Ricans are proud to live among and protect their country’s rich environment, as this small nation holds five percent of the world’s land-based biodiversity and 3.5 percent of its marine life.  Costa Rica produces nearly 93 percent of its electricity from renewable resources and 30 percent of its territory is protected natural land. A pioneer in the area of sustainability, Costa Rica is a model for sustainable practices for many industries within the region and around the world.

To Discover more about Costa Rica's Sustainability efforts visit our Institutional website at www.ict.go.cr

Tips for engaging in responsible tourism.

Every action has an impact, which is why responsible tourism is so vital.

When you practice responsible tourism, you can help to support the environment, local economies, responsible accommodations and services, as well as contributing to lower pollution, social benefits, and getting the most out of your journey to the country.

Here is more information to learn about engaging in responsible tourism:

English / Spanish / French / German / Italian / Portuguese

Costa rica's protected areas.

Although Costa Rica is a small territory, it makes up about 6% of the earth's biodiversity. Fortunately, this natural treasure is protected by the National System of Conservation Areas, preserving a total of 25% of the national territory.

Visitors can enjoy the country's majestic volcanoes, Pacific and Caribbean beaches, tropical dry, wet, and rain forests, as well as exhilarating jungle landscapes, all without traveling long distances.

It gives us great pleasure to invite you to visit our natural wonders.

sustainable tourism importance

Dear User: We recommend you check the website www.sinac.go.cr to verify which of the national parks have available the online ticket purchase system.

If you have problems with the purchase of tickets, refunds or complaints with the National Park System, communicate it to the following email: [email protected]

Volcan Arenal

Arenal Volcano National Park


Ballena National Marine Park

Barbilla National Park

Barbilla National Park

Barra Honda

Barra Honda National Park

Braulio Carrillo

Braulio Carrillo National Park


Cahuita National Park

Caño Negro

Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge


Carara National Park


Chirripó National Park

Isla del Coco

Cocos Island National Park


Corcovado National Park


Diriá National Park


Gandoca-Manzanillo Natural Wildlife Refuge


Guanacaste National Park


Guayabo National Archeological Monument

Volcán Irazú

Irazú Volcano National Park

Juan Castro Blanco National Park

Juan Castro Blanco National Park

La amistad

La Amistad International Park and Biosphere Preserve

La cangreja

La Cangreja National Park

Las Baulas

Las Baulas National Marine Park

Los quetzales

Los Quetzales National Park

Manuel Antonio

Manuel Antonio National Park

Palo Verde

Palo Verde National Park

Piedras Blancas National Park

Piedras Blancas National Park

Volcán Poás

Poás Volcano National Park

Volcán Rincón de La Vieja

Rincón de La Vieja Volcano National Park

Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa National Park


Tapantí-Macizo de La Muerte National Park

Volcán Tenorio

Tenorio Volcano National Park


Tortuguero National Park

Planning your trip to costa rica.

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Share your experience, ‌      ‌      ‌      ‌      ‌      ‌   .


United Nations Sustainable Development Logo

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 12 is about ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns, which is key to sustain the livelihoods of current and future generations.

Our planet is running out of resources, but populations are continuing to grow. If the global population reaches 9.8 billion by 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets will be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles.

We need to change our consumption habits, and shifting our energy supplies to more sustainable ones are one of the main changes we must make if we are going to reduce our consumption levels. However, global crises triggered a resurgence in fossil fuel subsidies, nearly doubling from 2020 to 2021.

We are seeing promising changes in industries, including the trend towards sustainability reporting being on the rise, almost tripling the amount of published sustainability over just a few years, showing increased levels of commitment and awareness that sustainability should be at the core of business practices.

Food waste is another sign of over consumption, and tackling food loss is urgent and requires dedicated policies, informed by data, as well as investments in technologies, infrastructure, education and monitoring. A staggering 931 million tons of food is wasted a year, despite a huge number of the global population going hungry.

Why do we need to change the way we consume?

Economic and social progress over the last century has been accompanied by environmental degradation that is endangering the very systems on which our future development and very survival depend.

A successful transition will mean improvements in resource efficiency, consideration of the entire life cycle of economic activities, and active engagement in multilateral environmental agreements.

What needs to change?

There are many aspects of consumption that with simple changes can have a big impact on society as a whole.

Governments need to implement and enforce policies and regulations that include measures such as setting targets for reducing waste generation, promoting circular economy practices, and supporting sustainable procurement policies

Transitioning to a circular economy involves designing products for longevity, repairability, and recyclability. It also involves promoting practices such as reusing, refurbishing, and recycling products to minimize waste and resource depletion.

Individuals can also adopt more sustainable lifestyles – this can involve consuming less, choosing products with lower environmental impacts, and reducing the carbon footprint of day-to-day activities.

How can I help as a business?

It’s in businesses’ interest to find new solutions that enable sustainable consumption and production patterns. A better understanding of environmental and social impacts of products and services is needed, both of product life cycles and how these are affected by use within lifestyles.

Innovation and design solutions can both enable and inspire individuals to lead more sustainable lifestyles, reducing impacts and improving well-being.

How can I help as a consumer?

There are two main ways to help:

  • Reducing your waste and
  • Being thoughtful about what you buy and choosing a sustainable option whenever possible.

Ensure you don’t throw away food, and reduce your consumption of plastic—one of the main pollutants of the ocean. Carrying a reusable bag, refusing to use plastic straws, and recycling plastic bottles are good ways to do your part every day.

Making informed purchases also helps. By buying from sustainable and local sources you can make a difference as well as exercising pressure on businesses to adopt sustainable practices.

sustainable tourism importance

Facts and figures

Goal 12 targets.

  • The material footprint per capita in high-income countries is 10 times the level of low-income countries. The world is also seriously off track in its efforts to halve per capita food waste and losses by 2030.
  • Global crises triggered a resurgence in fossil fuel subsidies, nearly doubling from 2020 to 2021.
  • Reporting has increased on corporate sustainability and on public procurement policies, but has fallen when it comes to sustainable consumption and monitoring sustainable tourism.
  • Responsible consumption and production must be integral to recovery from the pandemic and to acceleration plans of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is crucial to implement policies that support a shift towards sustainable practices and decouple economic growth from resource use.

Source: The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023

12.1  Implement the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, all countries taking action, with developed countries taking the lead, taking into account the development and capabilities of developing countries

12.2  By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources

12.3 By 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses

12.4  By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment

12.5  By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse

12.6  Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle

12.7  Promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities

12.8  By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature

12.A  Support developing countries to strengthen their scientific and technological capacity to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production

12.B  Develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products

12.C  Rationalize inefficient fossil-fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption by removing market distortions, in accordance with national circumstances, including by restructuring taxation and phasing out those harmful subsidies, where they exist, to reflect their environmental impacts, taking fully into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries and minimizing the possible adverse impacts on their development in a manner that protects the poor and the affected communities

The 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production

UN Environment Programme – Resource efficiency

FAO website for Sustainable Production

International Telecommunications Union 

UNDP page for Sustainable Production & Consumption

Fast Facts: Responsible Consumption and Production

sustainable tourism importance

Infographic: Responsible Consumption and Production

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Climate action, at the individual level, involves changing habits and routines by making choices that have less harmful effects on the environment.

sustainable tourism importance

Goal of the Month | Exclusive Interview With Michelle Yeoh, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador

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10,000 litres of water are required to make a single pair of jeans. UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh gives us tips on how we can adopt sustainable fashion in our daily lives.

sustainable tourism importance

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sustainable tourism importance

Sustainable tourism discussed at Critical Issues luncheon

R APID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Elevate Rapid City has a luncheon monthly to talk about critical issues. On the agenda this month is how to protect the environment this tourist season.

The luncheon featured a panel of experts on the topic. The panelists were Brook Kaufman, the CEO of Visit Rapid City, Carrie Gerlach, the owner of Black Hills Adventure Tours, Dew Bad Warrior-Genje, the owner of Zuya Sica Consulting, and Lysann Zeller, the Sustainability and Stewardship Development Program Manager at The City of Rapid City.

Some of the things discussed were recycling, protecting our trails, respecting cultures, and the Leave No Trace principles. The theme of the luncheon was asking how Rapid City can ensure long-term sustainability.

“Yeah, I think, more collaboration needs to happen in our communities to understand all the great work that’s happening in our communities and across the state so that we can all work together to be creative on our solutions,” Warior-Ganje said.

Gerlach stressed that the people of Rapid City don’t have to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to sustainability because there are countless other places that have exemplary programs and initiatives in sustainable tourism. Zeller mentioned that people can give the city feedback to be considered in their new comprehensive plan in a questionnaire or through the Rapid Gets Creative program.

The panelists advised on ways that people can help protect the Black Hills like reducing their consumption and being respectful of nature.

The Panelists all echoed that the most important part of creating a more environmentally conscious tourism industry is collaboration.

See a spelling or grammatical error in our story? Please click here to report it.

Do you have a photo or video of a breaking news story? Send it to us here with a brief description.

Panelists discuss sustainable tourism at the Critical Issues Luncheon on June 6, 2024.


40 Facts About Elektrostal

Lanette Mayes

Written by Lanette Mayes

Modified & Updated: 01 Jun 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Elektrostal is a vibrant city located in the Moscow Oblast region of Russia. With a rich history, stunning architecture, and a thriving community, Elektrostal is a city that has much to offer. Whether you are a history buff, nature enthusiast, or simply curious about different cultures, Elektrostal is sure to captivate you.

This article will provide you with 40 fascinating facts about Elektrostal, giving you a better understanding of why this city is worth exploring. From its origins as an industrial hub to its modern-day charm, we will delve into the various aspects that make Elektrostal a unique and must-visit destination.

So, join us as we uncover the hidden treasures of Elektrostal and discover what makes this city a true gem in the heart of Russia.

Key Takeaways:

  • Elektrostal, known as the “Motor City of Russia,” is a vibrant and growing city with a rich industrial history, offering diverse cultural experiences and a strong commitment to environmental sustainability.
  • With its convenient location near Moscow, Elektrostal provides a picturesque landscape, vibrant nightlife, and a range of recreational activities, making it an ideal destination for residents and visitors alike.

Known as the “Motor City of Russia.”

Elektrostal, a city located in the Moscow Oblast region of Russia, earned the nickname “Motor City” due to its significant involvement in the automotive industry.

Home to the Elektrostal Metallurgical Plant.

Elektrostal is renowned for its metallurgical plant, which has been producing high-quality steel and alloys since its establishment in 1916.

Boasts a rich industrial heritage.

Elektrostal has a long history of industrial development, contributing to the growth and progress of the region.

Founded in 1916.

The city of Elektrostal was founded in 1916 as a result of the construction of the Elektrostal Metallurgical Plant.

Located approximately 50 kilometers east of Moscow.

Elektrostal is situated in close proximity to the Russian capital, making it easily accessible for both residents and visitors.

Known for its vibrant cultural scene.

Elektrostal is home to several cultural institutions, including museums, theaters, and art galleries that showcase the city’s rich artistic heritage.

A popular destination for nature lovers.

Surrounded by picturesque landscapes and forests, Elektrostal offers ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and birdwatching.

Hosts the annual Elektrostal City Day celebrations.

Every year, Elektrostal organizes festive events and activities to celebrate its founding, bringing together residents and visitors in a spirit of unity and joy.

Has a population of approximately 160,000 people.

Elektrostal is home to a diverse and vibrant community of around 160,000 residents, contributing to its dynamic atmosphere.

Boasts excellent education facilities.

The city is known for its well-established educational institutions, providing quality education to students of all ages.

A center for scientific research and innovation.

Elektrostal serves as an important hub for scientific research, particularly in the fields of metallurgy , materials science, and engineering.

Surrounded by picturesque lakes.

The city is blessed with numerous beautiful lakes , offering scenic views and recreational opportunities for locals and visitors alike.

Well-connected transportation system.

Elektrostal benefits from an efficient transportation network, including highways, railways, and public transportation options, ensuring convenient travel within and beyond the city.

Famous for its traditional Russian cuisine.

Food enthusiasts can indulge in authentic Russian dishes at numerous restaurants and cafes scattered throughout Elektrostal.

Home to notable architectural landmarks.

Elektrostal boasts impressive architecture, including the Church of the Transfiguration of the Lord and the Elektrostal Palace of Culture.

Offers a wide range of recreational facilities.

Residents and visitors can enjoy various recreational activities, such as sports complexes, swimming pools, and fitness centers, enhancing the overall quality of life.

Provides a high standard of healthcare.

Elektrostal is equipped with modern medical facilities, ensuring residents have access to quality healthcare services.

Home to the Elektrostal History Museum.

The Elektrostal History Museum showcases the city’s fascinating past through exhibitions and displays.

A hub for sports enthusiasts.

Elektrostal is passionate about sports, with numerous stadiums, arenas, and sports clubs offering opportunities for athletes and spectators.

Celebrates diverse cultural festivals.

Throughout the year, Elektrostal hosts a variety of cultural festivals, celebrating different ethnicities, traditions, and art forms.

Electric power played a significant role in its early development.

Elektrostal owes its name and initial growth to the establishment of electric power stations and the utilization of electricity in the industrial sector.

Boasts a thriving economy.

The city’s strong industrial base, coupled with its strategic location near Moscow, has contributed to Elektrostal’s prosperous economic status.

Houses the Elektrostal Drama Theater.

The Elektrostal Drama Theater is a cultural centerpiece, attracting theater enthusiasts from far and wide.

Popular destination for winter sports.

Elektrostal’s proximity to ski resorts and winter sport facilities makes it a favorite destination for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities.

Promotes environmental sustainability.

Elektrostal prioritizes environmental protection and sustainability, implementing initiatives to reduce pollution and preserve natural resources.

Home to renowned educational institutions.

Elektrostal is known for its prestigious schools and universities, offering a wide range of academic programs to students.

Committed to cultural preservation.

The city values its cultural heritage and takes active steps to preserve and promote traditional customs, crafts, and arts.

Hosts an annual International Film Festival.

The Elektrostal International Film Festival attracts filmmakers and cinema enthusiasts from around the world, showcasing a diverse range of films.

Encourages entrepreneurship and innovation.

Elektrostal supports aspiring entrepreneurs and fosters a culture of innovation, providing opportunities for startups and business development .

Offers a range of housing options.

Elektrostal provides diverse housing options, including apartments, houses, and residential complexes, catering to different lifestyles and budgets.

Home to notable sports teams.

Elektrostal is proud of its sports legacy , with several successful sports teams competing at regional and national levels.

Boasts a vibrant nightlife scene.

Residents and visitors can enjoy a lively nightlife in Elektrostal, with numerous bars, clubs, and entertainment venues.

Promotes cultural exchange and international relations.

Elektrostal actively engages in international partnerships, cultural exchanges, and diplomatic collaborations to foster global connections.

Surrounded by beautiful nature reserves.

Nearby nature reserves, such as the Barybino Forest and Luchinskoye Lake, offer opportunities for nature enthusiasts to explore and appreciate the region’s biodiversity.

Commemorates historical events.

The city pays tribute to significant historical events through memorials, monuments, and exhibitions, ensuring the preservation of collective memory.

Promotes sports and youth development.

Elektrostal invests in sports infrastructure and programs to encourage youth participation, health, and physical fitness.

Hosts annual cultural and artistic festivals.

Throughout the year, Elektrostal celebrates its cultural diversity through festivals dedicated to music, dance, art, and theater.

Provides a picturesque landscape for photography enthusiasts.

The city’s scenic beauty, architectural landmarks, and natural surroundings make it a paradise for photographers.

Connects to Moscow via a direct train line.

The convenient train connection between Elektrostal and Moscow makes commuting between the two cities effortless.

A city with a bright future.

Elektrostal continues to grow and develop, aiming to become a model city in terms of infrastructure, sustainability, and quality of life for its residents.

In conclusion, Elektrostal is a fascinating city with a rich history and a vibrant present. From its origins as a center of steel production to its modern-day status as a hub for education and industry, Elektrostal has plenty to offer both residents and visitors. With its beautiful parks, cultural attractions, and proximity to Moscow, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this dynamic city. Whether you’re interested in exploring its historical landmarks, enjoying outdoor activities, or immersing yourself in the local culture, Elektrostal has something for everyone. So, next time you find yourself in the Moscow region, don’t miss the opportunity to discover the hidden gems of Elektrostal.

Q: What is the population of Elektrostal?

A: As of the latest data, the population of Elektrostal is approximately XXXX.

Q: How far is Elektrostal from Moscow?

A: Elektrostal is located approximately XX kilometers away from Moscow.

Q: Are there any famous landmarks in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal is home to several notable landmarks, including XXXX and XXXX.

Q: What industries are prominent in Elektrostal?

A: Elektrostal is known for its steel production industry and is also a center for engineering and manufacturing.

Q: Are there any universities or educational institutions in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal is home to XXXX University and several other educational institutions.

Q: What are some popular outdoor activities in Elektrostal?

A: Elektrostal offers several outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and picnicking in its beautiful parks.

Q: Is Elektrostal well-connected in terms of transportation?

A: Yes, Elektrostal has good transportation links, including trains and buses, making it easily accessible from nearby cities.

Q: Are there any annual events or festivals in Elektrostal?

A: Yes, Elektrostal hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, including XXXX and XXXX.

Elektrostal's fascinating history, vibrant culture, and promising future make it a city worth exploring. For more captivating facts about cities around the world, discover the unique characteristics that define each city . Uncover the hidden gems of Moscow Oblast through our in-depth look at Kolomna. Lastly, dive into the rich industrial heritage of Teesside, a thriving industrial center with its own story to tell.

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