With the understanding that the climate crisis is a serious threat to our planet, sustainability has gained great importance in every field. Tourism has also come to the fore as one of the areas where environmental awareness is high and sustainability studies are concentrated. So, what is sustainable tourism? What are the principles of sustainable tourism?
What is Sustainable Tourism?
Sustainable tourism, in short, “considering the current and future needs of tourists, the tourism industry, the environment and host communities; It is possible to define it as “tourism that takes into account the economic, social and environmental effects of all touristic activities”.
Sustainable tourism is not a special branch of tourism; should be considered as an approach that should guide the entire tourism sector. Because sustainability in tourism is extremely important not only for the protection of the environment, but also for the future of the sector.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) summarizes the goals of sustainable tourism as follows:
- Ensure optimal use of environmental resources, a key element in tourism development, by maintaining fundamental ecological processes and helping to preserve natural heritage and biodiversity.
- To respect the socio-cultural authenticity of the host communities, to protect their settled and living cultural heritage and traditional values, to contribute to intercultural understanding and tolerance.
- To ensure sustainable, long-term economic operations, create stable employment and income-generating opportunities, provide equitable socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders, including social services for host communities, contribute to poverty reduction.
What are the Principles of Sustainable Tourism?
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) determined 2005 principles for sustainable tourism with the guide they published jointly in 12. The sustainable tourism principles listed in this guide are:
- Economic Continuity: To maintain the economic sustainability and competitiveness of tourism destinations and enterprises so that they can continue to develop and benefit in the long term.
- Local Welfare: Increasing the local spending rates of visitors to increase the contribution of tourism to host destinations.
- Employment Quality: To increase the number and quality of local jobs created and supported by the tourism sector, by improving the wage level and service quality, without discriminating on issues such as race, gender, disability.
- Social Equality: To ensure that the economic and social benefits obtained from tourism are distributed widely and fairly to the society, and to improve the opportunities, income and services provided to the economically and socially disadvantaged people.
- Visitor Satisfaction: To provide a safe and satisfying experience to all visitors, regardless of gender, race, disability or other distinction.
- Local Control: Engage local communities in the planning and decision-making processes, in consultation with other stakeholders, for the management and development of tourism in their region.
- Social welfare: Maintain and improve the quality of life of local communities by providing social structures and access to resources, opportunities and life support systems, while preventing social degradation and abuse.
- Cultural diversity: Respect and enrich the historical heritage, authentic culture, traditions and diversity of host communities.
- Physical Integrity: To preserve and enrich the landscape quality of both urban and rural areas; prevent physical and visual degradation of the environment.
- Biodiversity: To support the protection of natural areas, habitats and wildlife and to minimize damage to them.
- Resource Efficiency: To minimize the use of limited, non-renewable resources in the development and operation of tourism facilities and services.⦁
- Environmental Purity: To minimize air, water and land pollution and waste production caused by tourism establishments and visitors.
The Importance of Ecologically Sustainable Tourism
Sustainable tourism practices, examples of which are increasing all over the world; brings with it economic, cultural, social and ecological effects. Efficient use of local and natural resources comes first among the ecological effects of sustainable tourism. In this way, a reduction in energy consumption and carbon emissions is achieved. In addition, sustainable tourism supports the formation of environmental awareness in different layers of society.
It is inevitable to support a sustainable tourism approach for an effective fight against the climate crisis and a better environment. You can follow the sustainability trends in all areas of life to contribute to the future of our planet, and be a part of the Forest for the Future project to reduce your carbon footprint. You can find information about the Future Forest project here.
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