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WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE TOURISM ?

"Sustainable tourism development meets the needs of the present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing the opportunity for the future. It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled, while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems". (WTO).

An overview of today's tourism industry

There were about 698 million international tourist arrivals worldwide in 2000, nearly 50 million (7.3%) more arrivals than in 1999 - the highest growth rate in nearly a decade. All regions in the world grew, and the fastest developing region continued to be East Asia and the Pacific with 14.6% growth, and 16% of the total market.

Europe saw an increase of 25 million international tourists (5.9% growth rate), and had 57.7% of the market share - by far the largest among the world's regions. The Americas are the second-biggest region, with 18.5% of arrivals.

International tourist receipts grew by 5%, totaling US$ 478 billion in 2000, with an additional US$ 97 billion from international transport carriers earned outside the country of origin. Receipts per arrival averaged US$ 700 in 1999.

Air transport increased its share against road in international holidays; together these two account for 85% of all international trips. Rail and sea transport remain below 8% each.
Source: WTO

Sustainability, for tourism as for other industries, has three interconnected aspects: environmental, socio-cultural, and economic. Sustainability implies permanence, so sustainable tourism includes optimum use of resources, including biological diversity; minimization of ecological, cultural and social impacts; and maximization of benefits to conservation and local communities. It also refers to the management structures that are needed to achieve this.

Some organizations prefer to speak of sustainable development of tourism, rather than sustainable tourism, for two main reasons:

  • For tourism to be sustainable it needs to be integrated into all aspects of development.

  • Some aspects of tourism, such as long-haul air travel, may simply not be sustainable with current technologies and best practices.

For more information on sustainable tourism:

Some important documents that discuss the concept of sustainable tourism are:


 

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