Consider it official: Vacation planning for the year is now in full swing. Wherever these travels whisk you, your fellow wanderers, your customers or your business efforts, consider the importance of participating in sustainable tourism.
So, what does that term mean, and why should you care? Let’s shed some light on this mission, as well as the vital sustainable tourism benefits.
It’s more than a mere catchphrase. In fact, you’ll find real meaning.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) 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.”
Since it plays such a significant part in the global economy, the tourism industry must prove responsible for leading the way toward sustainable development. And with the planet’s amazing, natural and cultural resources at the very heart of its trade, there exists a clear, intrinsic, vested interest.
The future of the planet and its people—not to mention the industry—hangs on how well we balance those impacts in the decisions we make and the actions we take today.
For example: Barring global travel altogether, in order to decrease only environmental damage, would also stanch the lifeblood of many regions.
Sustainable tourism strives to strike the best possible balance between the positive contributions of travel and offsetting the negative, however and wherever it occurs, for the long haul.
The UNWTO groups the goals—and benefits—of sustainability specifically as:
1. Economic Prosperity – Tourism accounts for hundreds of millions of jobs globally. Simply put, sustainable tourism’s potential to reduce poverty and contribute to good financial and infrastructural development is substantial.
Supporting employment growth in remote and rural regions and among poor people, as well as the fair distribution of these earnings, are especially pertinent.
2. Social equity and cohesion – Founded on human contact, tourism inherently nurtures respect for—and understanding and acceptance of—cultural differences. By generating income grounded in local culture, it also inspires communities to take pride in and value their heritage, which, in turn, promotes its conservation.
Among the benefits in this category, UNWTO’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism includes gender equality, cultural preservation, corporate social responsibility and the protection of children from exploitation in tourism.
The list of these benefits is extensive and extends into health, education, cultural resources, politics—and even personal happiness and peace.
3. Environmental preservation – Ecologically and economically speaking, tourism’s future is reliant on protecting life, such as natural areas, for its forthcoming use.
As part of its efforts to help the industry recognize and lessen its effect on the environment, UNWTO developed Global Sustainable Tourism Criteria, which are the minimum sustainability standards for which hotels and tour operators should aim.
By achieving them, your business would engender healthy natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystems, prevent deforestation, pollution and climate change, protect wildlife and landscapes, and conserve precious water and energy, among other wonderful benefits.
All tourism businesses should try to be sustainable.
UNWTO expects international tourist arrivals to total 1.8 billion by 2030––and with them, steep sustainability challenges and the increased need to resolve them.
It’s not a crusade limited to certain places or types of travel. Fall into the “mass tourism” crowd? You, too, can do your part. And your customers are likely to love you all the more for it.
Sustainable tourism is no easy feat…but we can help.
We understand how creating harmony between business and community-minded goals can be tricky. Let’s have a heart-to-heart about it. Email Lynn Kaniper, at email@example.com—or call 609.466.9187, ext. 117.