What is sustainable tourism?

By its very nature, tourism values things that are precious in our world: stunning landscapes, wildlife, history, culture and people. It can be a catalyst for growth in the local economy, providing jobs, opportunities for enterprise and funds for conservation. But, wherever it occurs, tourism can, and often does, have negative impacts on communities and the environment: loss of housing, loss of access to land and resources, overcrowding, pollution, the destruction of ecosystems and damage to cultural heritage. Many of these impacts are intensified by the impacts of climate change, which tourism has played no small part in fuelling.

The aim of sustainable tourism is to increase the benefits and to reduce the negative impacts caused by tourism.  Going beyond managing the negative impacts of tourism, the term regenerative tourism is used to describe tourism that restores and improves the environment, culture, and economy of a destination.  Regenerative tourism seeks to create a positive impact on local communities and leave the destination in a better state than it was found, while providing an authentic travel experience for visitors.

Unfortunately, much of tourism today focusses on growth in numbers of arrivals, overnight stays, and visitor spending, with the economic benefits increasingly concentrated among the few at the top of the value chain.  All to often, the real cost of tourism for destinations is not accounted for and it is local residents who lose out.

The Travel Foundation’s role is to advocate for and enable a different model of tourism that is in balance with community needs and the environment.

A few sustainable tourism resources

Useful links

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