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Sustainable tourism, myth or reality? Essay

Sustainable tourism is a term derived from the 1987 Rio Summit, United Nations Report on the Environment which can be defined as; a form of ongoing tourism development which helps to preserve and protect the environment and ecosystems from being destroyed by acting sustainably and in such a way that we respect local traditions and heritage. Sustainable tourism is a response to the tourist boom of the 1960s. Since then there has been an excessive growth of tourism internationally, due to cheaper travel costs.

By 2011 980 million people travelled internationally (sustainabletourism.net [1]) and that is expected to reach to 1. 5 billion by 2020. Since the word sustainable tourism was used in 1987, it’s had many new definitions which have helped to describe what sustainable tourism is about. This is an example by Butler. “Tourism which is developed and maintained in such a manner and at such a scale that it remains viable over an indefinite period and does not degrade or alter the environment (human and physical) in which it exists to such a degree that it prohibits the successful development and wellbeing of other activities and processes.

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” (Butler 1993[2]) Although there may be differing definitions of sustainable development, since the Rio Summit, sustainable tourism can be measured by a set of guidelines which summarises the goals of each definition created. These guidelines state that sustainable tourism can be made possible by educating tourists who visit the destination and by the contributions made to control the flow of tourism and preservation of the environment and population around the attraction. A few examples of these guide lines are:

Tourism should support a wide range of local economic activities, taking environmental costs and benefits into account, but it should not be permitted to become an activity which dominates the economic base of an area. Local communities should be encouraged and expected to participate in the planning, development and control of tourism with the support of government and the industry. Particular attention should be paid to involving indigenous people, women and minority groups to ensure the equitable distribution of the benefits of tourism.

All organisations and individuals should respect the culture, the economy and the way of life, the environment and political structures in the destination area. All stakeholders within tourism should be educated about the need to develop more sustainable forms of tourism. This includes staff training and raising awareness, through education and marketing tourism responsibly, of sustainability issues amongst host communities and tourists themselves. (Telfer and Sharpley 2008[3]) People are more educated today than two decades ago about the impacts of tourism.

There are more environmentally aware tourists that prefer businesses that minimize pollution, waste, energy consumption and landscaping chemicals. These are called sustainable tourists. By respecting cultural values, contributing to intercultural understanding, conserving resources, and supporting the economy by buying local goods the effects of tourism can be minimised. Sustainable tourism is focused on mainstream or mass tourism. It focuses on protecting the environment that is used by the tourists and materials so they do not damage the area for future generations.

Although due to the rapidly increasing amount of tourists, the environment is becoming more expensive to protect as the capacity of tourists becomes exceeded. An example of this is the island of Ibiza, Spain. During the 1960’s Ibiza was discovered to be a tourist destination but the island was not planned to be one. As a result to the prospect of attracting international tourists, hotels and airports were created in seemingly random areas with no disregard to the environment or cultural life.

Ancient streets were removed for high ways, many night clubs and tourist villages have been erected along the coast. Due to the growing demands of tourism, money is being spent on promoting Ibiza rather than protecting the environment, repairing ancient monuments and protecting the coastline and the way of life which had changed so much since the 1960’s. Over half of the islands born population work in the tourist industry, which in 1960 it was only 0% (ecociencia. com[4]).

Tourism on the island has affected not only caused cultural issues but urban and environmental issues which the local population blame on international tourists who are attracted to low cost hotels. The Spanish government is trying to encourage a more cultured and quieter tourism scene, by closing all nightclubs by 6 a. m. and requiring all new hotels to be of 5-star standards. In 2009 Spain received 52. 5 million tourists although it only had a population of 45,989,016 inhabitants (deliveringdata. com[5]).

The tourist boom on Ibiza is not a rare occurrence as this can also be seen throughout the world as tourists are attracted to more pristine looked after areas such as the Philippines or Jamaica. In Jamaica due to the increasing tourist demand new areas are being developed on the island that were forbidden from being built upon before, such as the Mystic Mountain, Ochos Rios to try to attract international tourists to the island. This can lead to sustainable tourism failing in that areas that were once remote are now being offered as tourist attractions, which if not looked after will degrade as they become more popular.

Although different countries are starting to realise that the increasing amount of sustainable tourists will not go to visit areas that don’t look after the whole area rather just one area so are incorporating more money into environmental protection and cultural development. The Central America Tourism Agency said in 2009 (philippajacks. co. uk[6]) “You simply cannot make business with European companies if you don’t have a sustainable tourism programme now… now it’s a reality more than a trend.

” The fact that sustainability is becoming more of an issue as people are becoming aware of being sustainable in their own countries, which is forcing international business to take new approaches of tourism. Finally, sustainable tourism is something that cannot be achieved in a decade or two. But it can change the way we think, we use resources, our attitudes to tourism and the development of the tourist industry which will be help to sustain and protect our world for future generations.

Sustainability is influencing more people to choose a more environmentally friendly type of tourism than they would have chosen two decades ago. More people are becoming eco tourists; visiting national parks and historical monuments rather than visiting prepared tourist resorts, which is a factor of change to the type of tourism in the 20th century. An increasing amount of people are choosing low cost eco friendly travel methods and new technology is to helping to cut back carbon emissions.

Money generated from tourism is being re invested into protecting the environment and ensuring local culture is not lost. Although international tourism is one of the worlds’s most rapidly growing industries accounting for 4. 6% of global Gross Domestic Product between 1975 and 2000 (United Nations World Tourism Organisation[7]). Poorer countries such as Kenya and Brazil rely on tourism as a principle income and offer tourist retreats in remote parts of the country, which will include travelling to these destinations.

Tourist hotpots are created on sights of interest and are being regenerated to attract international tourists, deferring money from other parts of the country usually leading to neglected areas which tourists will not visit such as Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea which tourists are attracted to the beach which has recently finished development, rather than the city. Tourist hotspots such as Ibiza which were created before the Rio Summit are hard to make sustainable due to rapid growth which has caused irreplaceable damage to the environment and local culture.

Air pollution from tourist planes and destroyed sea coral are just a few examples of poor tourism sustainability; depending on the countries government, issues regarding tourism are more important than the environment leading to irreparable damage, this is evident in the Canary Islands. As a result two nature reserves are being proposed to protect areas in the Canaries and programs to educate tourists on being sustainable so local culture is not lost are suggested. In my opinion I think that sustainable tourism is far from being a myth but not that far from being reality.

Since the Rio Summit, there has emerged a new type of tourist which is more eco-friendly, sustainable and conscious of how they should treat tourist areas. Business are becoming more aware that people want a more sustainable, quality and rememberable holiday which is forcing change in the tourist industry. Yet there is a lot of improvement that needs to be made for sustainable tourism to become reality. These changes that are being made are not being made due to becoming more sustainable but rather the opposite.

The educations of tourists have made a profound effect on the world wide tourism business that they have to become more ecological and environmentally aware to attract tourists.

Bibliography http://www. sustainabletourism. net/index. html Facts, tourism impacts http://www. uclan. ac. uk/schools/built_natural_environment/research/csd/files/CSD_Working_Paper_4_Sustainable_Tourism_Sharpley. pdf Page 4 http://www. uclan. ac. uk/schools/built_natural_environment/research/csd/files/CSD_Working_Paper_4_Sustainable_Tourism_Sharpley. pdf Page 5, table 2 http://www. ecociencia. com/en/proyecto-2.

html http://www. deliveringdata. com/2010/09/tourism-in-spain. html First paragraph http://philippajacks. co. uk/2009/11/rainforest-alliance-sustainable-tourism/ Fourth paragraph http://www. uclan. ac. uk/schools/built_natural_environment/research/csd/files/CSD_Working_Paper_4_Sustainable_Tourism_Sharpley. pdf Below table 1 page 2 Resources not labelled but used for research http://www. tim. hawaii. edu/ctps/Sheldon_Challenges_to_Sustainability. pdf Canary Island Statistics http://www. jtbonline. org/statistics/Annual%20Travel/Forms/AllItems. aspx Jamaica Statistics http://www. easier.com/58450-jamaica-steps-up-sustainable-tourism-initiatives. html Jamaica tourism http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/

Ibiza Ibiza government information http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Sustainable_tourism Sustainable tourism http://www. ecociencia. com Ibiza Statistics http://www. sustainabletourism. net/definitions. html Definitions http://store. aqa. org. uk/qual/gce/pdf/AQA-GEOG3-W-MS-JAN11. PDF Mark Scheme http://www. sustainabletourism. net Sustainability information http://www. uclan. ac. uk/schools/built_natural_environment/research/csd/files/CSD_Working_Paper_4_Sustainable_Tourism_Sharpley. pdf Tourism Statistics.

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