The sustainable tourism or sustainable tourism is a form of tourism that follows the principles of sustainability.
Sustainable tourism is an industry committed to making a low impact on the environment and local culture, while contributing to generate income and employment for the local population.
Solidarity tourism is understood as a way of traveling that is based on the respect of travelers towards the people and places that are visited through a deeper approach to the reality of the country and a positive cultural exchange between both parties. In addition to contributing to the economic development of the area with accommodation in places managed by the community, consuming fair trade products and visiting and collaborating in solidarity projects that take place there. In short, a way to travel that has a positive impact on both the communities that visit and the traveler.
Sustainable tourism as a development strategy
According to UNWTO, the principles that define sustainable tourism are:
The natural and cultural resources are conserved for their continued use in the future, while they report benefits;
Tourism development is planned and managed in a way that does not cause serious environmental or socio-cultural problems;
The environmental quality is maintained and improved;
It seeks to maintain a high level of satisfaction of visitors and the destination retains its prestige and commercial potential; Y
The benefits of tourism are widely distributed throughout society.
These characteristics make sustainable tourism a strategic tool in local and national economic development. On the one hand, tourism is a great opportunity in some urban and rural areas, where there are no other alternatives for economic activity. At the same time, as part of the services sector, it offers more opportunities for the emergence of local companies (we must bear in mind that even in the most developed countries, this sector is mainly made up of SMEs). And despite being a sector that requires heavy investments in infrastructure and equipment, it also uses labor intensively, thus offering numerous job and business opportunities, without distinction for men, women and young people.
This trend of tourism called Sustainable Tourism is also supported by UNESCO, who argues that “The development of sustainable tourism must be ecologically sustainable in the long term, economically viable, as well as ethically and socially equitable ” (BRESCE, 2009).
Social & economic aspects
Global economists forecast continuing international tourism growth, the amount depending on the location. As one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries, this continuous growth will place great stress on remaining biologically diverse habitats and indigenous cultures, which are often used to support mass tourism. Tourists who promote sustainable tourism are sensitive to these dangers and seek to protect tourist destinations, and to protect tourism as an industry. Sustainable tourists can reduce the impact of tourism in many ways:
informing themselves of the culture, politics, and economy of the communities visited
anticipating and respecting local cultures, expectations and assumptions
supporting the integrity of local cultures by favoring businesses which conserve cultural heritage and traditional values
supporting local economies by purchasing local goods and participating with small, local businesses
conserving resources by seeking out businesses that are environmentally conscious, and by using the least possible amount of non-renewable resources
Increasingly, destinations and tourism operations are endorsing and following “responsible tourism” as a pathway towards sustainable tourism. Responsible tourism and sustainable tourism have an identical goal, that of sustainable development. The pillars of responsible tourism are therefore the same as those of sustainable tourism – environmental integrity, social justice and economic development. The major difference between the two is that, in responsible tourism, individuals, organizations and businesses are asked to take responsibility for their actions and the impacts of their actions. This shift in emphasis has taken place because some stakeholders feel that insufficient progress towards realizing sustainable tourism has been made since the Earth Summit in Rio. This is partly because everyone has been expecting others to behave in a sustainable manner. The emphasis on responsibility in responsible tourism means that everyone involved in tourism – government, product owners and operators, transport operators, community services, NGOs and Community-based organization (CBOs), tourists, local communities, industry associations – are responsible for achieving the goals of responsible tourism.
Impact of international tourism
In the last five decades, international tourism has gone from moving 25 to almost 700 million passengers a year to increasingly remote places thanks to the development of means of transport. A phenomenon of such magnitude and with such rapid expansion could not help but generate impact wherever it has been established.
Generally, this impact is classified into three categories: economic, environmental and sociocultural.
Tourism has traditionally been presented as an efficient engine of economic development, capable of generating employment, modernizing infrastructure, promoting other productive activities, revaluing indigenous resources or balancing national scales of payments. Before the 1970s, when these premises were assumed and with the international mass tourism that had just been launched, few researchers had stopped to study the economic costs that this activity posed for the host societies. But in that decade they began to be evident.
It is also true that infrastructures are modernized, but focused on tourism priorities and not always in accordance with an endogenous and balanced development with the other productive activities.
The revaluation of indigenous resources is often materialized in inflationary processes derived from an increase in the demand for land, water or food; the result is the increase in the cost of living, the difficulty of accessing a home or the expulsion of peasants due to the lack of competitiveness of farm incomes. Tourism drives some productive activities, such as construction, but also endangers other traditional activities, such as agriculture and livestock.
Likewise, the ability of tourism to generate income in destination countries is debatable, since it is the countries of origin that benefit most from this activity: aviation companies and large hotel establishments usually belong to multinationals from the countries of origin. origin, besides that the operators of these countries have the capacity to impose prices on their “partners” of the destination.
Finally, it should be noted that in certain areas where tourism has been committed as the main means of development, it has been observed that it generates problems similar to those of economies based on monoculture agriculture for export, such as dependence on International market prices, very fluctuating, or a high level of risk derived from low diversification.
According to Sancho (2009) and Maldonado (2006) among the main impacts caused by tourism we can find the following:
It happens due to the fact that tourist use is assigned to natural resources, and possibly these could be used for more profitable alternative uses.
Costs derived from fluctuations in tourism demand
These costs are due to the fall in demand, since it affects the economy in general, more when it is very dependent on the activity.
It occurs because the tourist has a greater purchasing power and the prices of the products are raised to get more profit, so for the local people it translates into having a lower purchasing power that helps to increase the economy of a population.
Possible speculation derived from the tourist demand for land and real estate
The soil becomes more expensive because it becomes a scarce resource, since the activity makes use of this resource.
Loss of potential economic benefits
This occurs mostly in developing countries, since it usually depends on foreign investment capital, therefore the benefits remain in the countries that invest.
Distortion or weakening of local economic activities
Because the local human capital and the areas surrounding the resorts prefer to work in tourism activities and stop doing so in what traditionally they did.
Conflict of interests between the resident population and tourists
This is usually because both begin to use and share the same natural resources and public services.
Interestingly, one of the factors that favors the appearance of tourism in an area, the landscape, tends to be especially fragile with its development. We have already seen how the arrival of tourists tends to change the use of natural resources. But beyond that, it often tends to overexploit them.
Mass tourism has been particularly violent with the environment: urbanization of natural areas or not integrated into the landscape, overuse of water resources, problems related to the treatment of garbage, water contamination by liquid waste, destruction of historical monuments, air pollution from the use of vehicles and heating, changes in the landscape to favor leisure activities such as golf or skiing, etc. These processes are more incisive in the countries of the South, where environmental regulations tend to be more lax to favor the tourism industry and natural resources are easy prey to speculation. As an example we can point out the ecological crisis that the coast of Quintana Roo is suffering in Mexico, due to the excessive development of tourist centers such as Cancun or Cozumel.
But not only mass tourism affects the environment. Forms of alternative tourism can also make unsustainable use of resources. Under the concept of “alternative tourism” various forms of tourism are grouped, sometimes seeking a sustainable development of the activity, but others only express the opposition to mass tourism. However, even if it is only because of small-scale tourism, alternative forms of tourism usually involve much less alteration in the landscape.
On the contrary there are occasions, when the landscape is the main tourist value, that public institutions come to establish extreme conservationist norms, to the point of preventing the normal development of traditional activities and without understanding that the human being also has a role in the ecosystem.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (PROFEPA), the main negative environmental impacts generated by the development of tourism infrastructure on the coasts of Mexico are those mentioned below (Anonymous, 2012):
Modification and destruction of terrestrial and aquatic flora and fauna habitats.
Changes in the use of forest land.
Generation of hazardous waste.
Contamination of soils and bodies of water by liquid emissions (discharges of wastewater, oils, lubricants and hydrocarbons).
Introduction of exotic species.
Emission of noises and vibrations due to the use of heavy machinery.
Alteration of coastal dunes.
Obstruction of surface and underground water bodies.
Removal of mangrove vegetation by the opening of roads, shooting ranges, exploitation banks and installation of camps and offices.
From the patrimonial point of view, the tourist development has generated:
Illegal occupation of the federal maritime land zone (ZOFEMAT) and land reclaimed from the sea (TGM), both by nationals and foreigners.
Non-compliance with the provisions of the instruments that protect the use, enjoyment or use of the ZOFEMAT and the TGM.
Properties that, due to the lack of access, turn public beaches into private ones.
It has sometimes been pointed out that tourism can have positive benefits by allowing the interrelation between different cultures. However, the socio-cultural impacts detected are often negative for the host society. One of the most outstanding aspects is the tendency to accelerate cultural changes that deprive cultural elements of their meaning to leave them only in the epiphenomenal, the “visible”, which is treated as a commodity. In Kenya, one of the most touristic African countries, it is common for indigenous ethnic groups to perform dances and rituals as an attraction for tourists outside their cultural context. The crafts it is a field in which these processes occur with assiduity: in addition to changing the purpose (from good use to merchandise), the craft models are homogenized according to the supposed Western tastes.
The development of tourism can influence the structure of host societies, generating or increasing social differentiation. And it is that the benefits that remain in the destination area are not usually evenly distributed, but tend to be monopolized by a minority sector of the population. In the Cuban case, for example, although tourist companies are mixed (Cuban state – foreign capital), workers who have contact with tourists (waiters, guides, etc.) usually receive, in tips, several times the average salary of the country, which has made them a differentiated and envied social group.
According to Sancho (2009) and Maldonado (2006) among the main impacts caused by tourism we can find the following:
Deterioration of historical sites and archaeological monuments.
The occupation of the most qualified jobs by foreign workers.
A new form of colonialism: because it is completely dependent on foreign capital.
Acculturation: changes in values, behaviors and consumption patterns in order to imitate the residents of the host society
Mercantilization of traditions.
Appearance of Ghettos.
Increase in crime.
The load capacity as indicator
In the application of the sustainable tourism model, the concept of cargo capacity is frequently used, which implies that tourist sites have certain limits in the volume and intensity that a given geographical area can support, without causing irreparable damage.
It is defined as the maximum use that can be made of the economic, social, cultural and natural resources of the destination area without reducing the satisfaction of visitors and without generating negative impacts on the host society or the environment.
Sustainable tourism does not refer to any form of specific tourism, although it seems that traditional tourism has more difficulty in achieving sustainability than other forms of alternative tourism.
The sustainable tourism model
This model enters the tourist field as an alternative to offset in some way the deteriorating effects of mass tourism, predominantly global. The model of sustainable tourism has been acquiring greater importance over time, due to the growing concern worldwide to generate sustainable development that allows future generations to enjoy resources similar to those currently used. The current world is governed mostly by a globalized capitalist system. Tourism as one of the largest industries in the world is part of this system, and that is why most of the new modalities proposed for tourism are focused on economically sustainable development. As an example we can take Hassan, who proposes the model of sustainable tourism as a way to increase the competitiveness of destinations in the market. In general, the model of sustainable tourism involves the coordination of the three pillars of sustainability (economy, ecosystem and society), the increasing “awareness” of the tourist in ecological and social aspects, and the greater empoderamiento of the activity on the part of the receiving societies. The types of tourism mostly referenced as sustainable are: ecotourism, solidarity tourism and community tourism. However, it should be emphasized that sustainability can be applied at different levels for different types of tourism.
On the other hand, the success of the term ecotourism, and perhaps as a consequence of which it seems to place greater emphasis on environmental sustainability than in others, has encouraged tour operators to use it to define forms of tourism whose nature is little or nothing sustainable.
An example is offered by the Mombacho volcano in Nicaragua. In what a few years ago was the land of a peasant cooperative, born in the times of the Sandinista Revolution, a private company has installed a successful canopy tour service. It is a walk through the treetops, gliding on zip lines, which allows you to admire the landscape from an unusual perspective. The problem is that the peasants, former owners of those lands, were forced to sell them, drowned by the lack of credits and support for the peasant economy, and ended up displaced from their old properties. In the management of the tourist service, these farmers only participate, in the best of cases, as employees, without really participating in the substantial economic benefits generated by this activity.
The same tourism model does not have similar effects on different societies. Its impact varies depending on the context of the host society, as well as its endogenous social, political and economic characteristics. On the Island of Taquile, located on Lake Titicaca, since the 1970s a model of tourism has been developed that combines private initiative with community management in a successful and sustainable manner. However, the attempt to apply this model by other neighboring communities, with different social and demographic conditions, became a source of conflict.
It can be said that there is no universally applicable sustainable tourism model since, as mentioned above, the impact of tourism varies depending on the characteristics of the host society and its context. On the other hand, there are tourism development models that, whatever the social, economic and environmental characteristics of the destination area, are always unsustainable: mass tourism, sex tourism, small-scale passenger cars controlled by foreign agents, among others..
Sustainable tourism trends can be summarized in the following topics: Preference for travel with the least environmental impact, choosing destinations based on their natural attractions, promoting their conservation, preference for hotels that have environmental certifications, outstanding interest in the culture and the society of the place visited and willingness to pay a high price if this constitutes a greater benefit for the local community.
Faced with this situation, responsible tourism does not appear as a specific type or model of tourism, but as a movement:
which seeks to establish sustainable and specific tourism development models for each destination area, for which its social, economic and environmental variables must be taken into account;
that denounces the negative impacts that tourism entails or can entail in host societies, as well as the distorted image that visitors can make of the reality they have come to know;
that values and claims the responsibility of tourists, tour operators, hosts and public institutions when favoring sustainable tourism models.
From this way of understanding responsible tourism, the problem is not only to consider that tourism can be an engine of development to which we must put some corrective mechanisms before the risks involved.
For Jordi Gascón, member of the Xarxa de Consum Solidari, it is a question of a previous perspective: tourism, like any other new resource that generates benefits, becomes a space of social confrontation. A resource in which the different social sectors involved do not necessarily have the same interests, but often, on the contrary, have clearly opposed positions.
In this way, despite the fact that international tourism in the countries of the South generally implies an increase in problems for the majority of the population, it can also imply a potential for development of marginalized sectors of those same areas.
There is also a system of sustainability indicators for tourism, which consists of four major themes:
Once this system is applied, it is possible to obtain a diagnosis to carry out a correct planning that allows taking appropriate actions to develop tourism in sustainable conditions.
Basic principles of sustainability
Any tourist activity that really aims to be defined as sustainable should consider the following aspects:
Appropriate use of natural resources
Respect for Socio-Cultural Diversity
Ensure proper business practices
Farrell, BH and Twining-Ward, L. (2004) agree that in order to achieve a transition towards sustainable tourism, it is necessary that the people involved in this topic understand that the social and natural systems under which tourism operates are not linear, but complex and strongly integrated. To achieve this, it is desirable to carry out a transdisciplinary or at least interdisciplinary approach.
Why is it necessary to take sustainability into account in tourism? According to some researchers, the pillars that sustain this activity are the environment (natural, historical, artistic, social…) and the human factor, both interdependent. The tourist exploitation is causing the destruction of the habitat of social, economic, natural and cultural heritage. For this reason, work is being carried out at a global level in order to find a balance between tourism exploitation, the human factor and our environment. To achieve all this it is necessary to take into account the rights that define us as people on the one hand, and on the other, the obligations that we have as inhabitants of the Earth. Thus, different governmental organizations such as UNESCO or the UNThey take into account the factors of ecotourism, including among its sustainability policies. Existing also the Charter of sustainable tourism of 1995.
The axes of sustainable tourism
All tourism that seeks to be sustainable must be based on these axes:
It seeks respect for ecosystems and implies compatibility between social and economic activities, as well as the preservation of biodiversity. Indicates the need to modify consumption patterns to:
Reverse environmental deterioration and maintain the material base of development.
Promote a better understanding of the importance of the diversity of ecosystems.
Apply measures locally adapted to environmental problems.
Improve the monitoring of the environmental impact produced by productive activities.
Respect the own sociocultural guidelines, above all, of the indigenous peoples.
Assume a gender focus in the development of projects.
It establishes that the needs of society must be met, such as education, health, food, clothing, housing, public services, security and work. Sustainable values for a global ethic The concept of sustainable development requires, as a condition, to give great importance to the dimensions associated with the quality of life, such as access to education, employment, health, social security, housing in risk-free spaces with services, infrastructure and equipment. As well as values such as:
Economic and gender equity.
Racial, ethnic and religious equality.
Political and ideological freedom.
Respect for human rights.
Quality of the environment
Take, as a measure of welfare, the amount of material goods and useful services produced by a country, divided by the number of its inhabitants (what is known as the GDP per capita) or some measure directly related to it.
Government and citizenship before sustainable tourism
Tourism has obvious social, psychological and cultural connotations, both for tourists and for the towns and communities that host them, so these aspects should be taken into account when planning the development of a tourist destination, and should be administered and control properly. It is possible to find many examples of evolution of tourist destinations, with very varied dynamics that show how complex the relationship between tourists and residents can be and its consequences for the destination.
It is, considering this situation, that good planning must be done to promote sustainable tourism and, therefore, it is necessary to conduct economic, social and environmental analysis studies, integrated with a view to tourism development and also with a view to inserting a sustainable dynamism with the traditional life and the environmental factors of the locality. Given this, it can be said that the key to sustainable tourism is to effectively negotiate the cultural and natural approach that will be made in order to have advantages that contribute to social welfare and increase the interest of visitors.
The principles that sustainability manages and the environmental use are directly linked to tourism, so there is an interaction between society’s actors and other complex systems such as ecosystems, which can promote development in local communities based on the start-up of a harmonious tourism, linking elements such as education, culture, economic organization and urban development, among others, that allows the participation of the different actors of the community.
It is in the face of this complex particularization of the application of sustainability to local planning, that the UNWTO, in its function of serving as a consultant and technical assistance for policies, development guidelines, management techniques and measurement instruments, at the service of governments and the tourism industry, has incorporated the principles of sustainability in their processes and decision-making. Thus, UNEP has initiated a program aimed at integrating environmental sustainability for decision-making in the tourism industry. It is important to mention that sustainable tourism is not a different or special form of tourism, but, in fact, all forms of tourism should tend to be more sustainable; your position can help benefit local communities economically and socially.
The example of Spain
The Government of Spain seems to be betting on sustainable tourism where not only economic benefit is obtained but, above all, the environment is taken care of. This concern has been reflected in the news from Europa Press of the economy section, published on March 24, 2010, which reports on the 50 innovative tourism projects that received 2 million in aid to the AEI in 2009. In the subtitle, I could read: A total of 123 applications were submitted, with Andalucía, Comunidad Valenciana and Castilla y León being the most active. And it is demonstrated that sustainable tourism, of nature, in addition to preserving the natural environment, of caring for the national and international flora and fauna, reports money, thus covering both interests.
Before there were few people who knew the existence of this type of tourism and yet today there are already many who practice it. However, this sector should still increase, although it should be noted that the evolution has been favorable since it is not so long ago that nature tourism has appeared in holiday offers. Therefore, we hope that ignorance is due to the youth of the same and that in a few years there will be hundreds of people who travel responsibly. A good advertising campaign, in which all the benefits were shown, would be a good start for the proliferation of it.
However, most of the measures proposed in the different political proposals remain merely on paper. There is a lot of documentation and you can even download regional strategies and decrees, as well as government letters at European level, but what happens on a daily basis with ecotourism? Little thing. There is no awareness campaign for the subject itself. The majority of people live in ignorance about sustainable tourism and there are too many polluting activities that have not been considered to stop pursuing such an important goal. Visiting green areas and natural spaces is fine as long as you are careful. But if people are not fully aware, why not contribute by making a strong campaign ? After tracking in newspapers, both digital and on paper, the news on the subject are minimal and are reduced to the mere information that the Board will take measures of tourism sustainability, but nothing is done to make people aware and begin to become aware. If you really want to know about the topic you have to track down the blogs, get down to the point, take into account the opinions of people who know what they are talking about because they believe and practice ecotourism and not get stuck in the lack of information, which halo of holiness, surrounds sustainable tourism.
The main community of responsible tourists in Spain is grouped into a community of national and international travelers who demand shops, restaurants, accommodation, festivals, professionals and brands that opt for ecology and well-being as the cornerstone of their leisure time. The community had in August 2017 with more than 250,000 active supporters and events guide sustainable tourism has more than 1,000 new proposals per quarter
The situation in Latin America
Unlike developed countries, sustainable tourism in Latin America should be understood as a tool to alleviate poverty, value the natural and cultural heritage, address the particularities of the most vulnerable groups and be a useful instrument to produce inclusive development that prioritize local communities and favor the social use of tourism resources.
The strongly environmentalist idea of the original concept, which applies so well to Europe or the United States, is a simplifying version in the case of Latin America, which does not mean losing that dimension, but also enhancing the sociocultural, and economic, also including the idea of institutional sustainability.
One of the main weaknesses in the region is the scarce participation in global decision-making, which has motivated the best projects and initiatives to be generated from the world of English-speaking cooperation, based on the idea of “sustainable tourism”, more than in sustainable tourism, what leads to thinking about tourism development in Latin America without considering the particularities and without creating conditions to increase the participation of individuals and organizations in this task.
There is therefore a pending and very important task that is to create innovative initiatives and projects so that Latin Americans themselves will decide on the meaning of sustainability in tourism, supported by the current lines of cooperation for development and the incipient collaboration of tourism industry.
The Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas, founded in 2003 in Costa do Sauipe, Brazil, by a group of organizations in the region such as the Rainforest Alliance of the USA, Plan21 Foundation of Argentina, Fundación Natura de Colombia, Alianza Verde de Guatemala, Conservation and Development of Ecuador and representatives of several countries and international organizations, was a good attempt to strengthen regional processes, which allowed, among other things, to create the baseline of sustainable tourism indicators, the first of its kind at an international level. twentyCurrently, there are many organizations in different countries that are working to modify tourism development processes. At the regional level, the new Institute of Sustainable Tourism for Latin America and the Caribbean has recently been launched, a joint initiative of the Plan21 Foundation and the University for International Cooperation, organized into five strategic areas: training and education, applied research, advocacy, project management and integration of actors and efforts.
Spain, one of the most tourist countries in the world, still does not have an effective sustainable tourism program. The lack of commitment of the Spanish government to such a serious matter is tremendous.
Source from Wikipedia