Sustainable tourism is an inclusive term that encompasses the full tourism experience, which includes consideration of the environment, human health and safety, economic and social issues and focus on addressing the needs of local host communities and also improving the experiences of tourists. The process is concerned with sustainable tourism policies and practices that aim to create positive change that benefit local people, tourism and the wider tourism industry. It has been noted by experts that tourism has been one of the key drivers of sustainable development. Tourism has in fact been identified as one of the key drivers of positive change in sustainable development.
This practice seeks to ensure that negative impacts are reduced or completely avoided. These negative impacts can range from physical, such as adverse impacts on natural habitats, to social, such as distress caused by tourist exploitation of wildlife and natural resources. Tourism has in fact been responsible for some of the worst environmental degradation and abuse. Tourism has been identified as one of the key drivers of negative impacts. Adverse impacts on the environment have been identified as resulting from the large-scale commercialization of natural resources. Other adverse impacts include habitat loss and fragmentation, air, water, land pollution due to tourism, and damage to the fragile eco system.
Tourism also has significant negative implications for the quality of life of the local communities where it operates. Many developing countries suffer from the exorbitant prices charged by international hotels, which result in detrimental impact on the quality of life of the local communities. Tourism also contributes to a reduction in employment opportunities in the rural regions. A study carried out in India and Sri Lanka showed that between six and eight percent of the people working in these communities were unemployed and another twenty percent were under paid.
The promotion of sustainable tourism has been seen as a vital tool to improve the environmental impacts and tackle the challenges that the industry has been facing. An increase in the demand for the services provided by the hotels and the provision of jobs and economic benefits for the local communities have helped change the dynamics of the industry. Tourism is now not seen as a threat to the existing local cultures. The growth of the tourism industry has led to establishment of trusts that promote community-based tourism in the areas where it operates.
Tourism also helps solve some of the most pressing issues affecting the sustainability of the environment. Tourism encourages local economies and provides employment to many. In some cases, the mass tourism influx can be directly tied to the establishment of jobs for the local citizens. Tourism generates funds that can be used for the development of the local economy. This is possible since natural resources like forests and water are renewable and can be utilized for a sustainable tourism, while at the same time providing employment to the local population.
Sustainable tourism focuses on promoting the conservation of natural resources and, at the same time, encouraging the development of the local people through projects that promote job creation and investment in education, health care and small businesses. It also strives to promote unity, sustainability, environmental responsibility and community partnership. Some of the popular destinations for sustainable tourism include Caribbean islands such as St. Lucia and St. Maarten, which have emerged as top tourist destinations. Other popular destinations include Italy’s Tuscany region, which has beautiful landscapes and islands that attract thousands of tourists each year; Spain’s Costa del Sol, with its beautiful beaches and the Balearic Islands, which have become a popular holiday destination for British people.