Sustainable Tourism

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To many, sustainable tourism might be interpreted as sustaining attractions just to ensure there is a continuation of visitors and tourists coming in. However, this understanding is too juvenile. According to a 1987 report, Our Common Future, sustainable development is define as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (WCED, 1987). Fundamentally, sustainable development ‘advocates the wise use and conservation of resources in order to maintain their long-term viability’ (Elber, 1992).

At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, popularly known as the Earth Summit and held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the sustainable development approach was further elaborated and expressed in the plan, Agenda 21 (UNCED, 1992). The World Tourism Organisation (2004) has then retune the concept of sustainable development into the tourism industry by defining as, ‘Sustainable tourism involves meeting the needs of visitors and the local community while protecting and boosting the tourism attraction for the future concurrently as part of a national economic supply. 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, and biological diversity and life support systems.

Principles of sustainable tourism can be broaden as the following five points mainly the natural, historical, cultural and other resources for tourism are conserved for continuous use in the future while still bringing benefits to the society; Tourism development is premeditated and managed so that it does not produce severe environmental or socio cultural problems in the tourism area; The overall environmental quality of the tourism area is preserved and made better where needed; A high level of tourist satisfaction is maintained so that the tourist destinations will retain their marketability and popularity; The benefits of tourism are widely spread throughout the society.

In general, the focus on sustainable tourism can be on the notion of intergenerational equity. What intergenerational equity portends is that future generations will be able to enjoy at least as good a quality of life as that enjoyed by the current generation.

Preserving our resources and deriving benefits for tourism is indeed a management challenge. Questions are often raised whether tourism can be economically viable for private companies and local communities while also being sensitive to cultural, environmental and social needs and meeting the requirements of visitors.

Sustainable tourism has the capacity to boost the quality and lifetime value of tourism products and thus increase visitors’ satisfaction. Satisfied visitors are likely to be repeat visitors and in the long run, are keys to the overall economic growth of tourism for the local community. Like an old saying, ‘A guest never forgets the host who had treated him kindly’ (Homer, The Odyssey, ninth century BC).

Tourism products marketed as sustainable benefits the locals while appealing to tourists. Through well-developed products, tourists will have a better understanding of the history, heritage, culture and arts of the destination. Concurrently, the locals can have honour in the variety of the tourism products and its own heritage and cultural and environmental values.

Furthermore, well-managed products can help protect and uphold natural and artificial attractions while allowing wide access to the natural environment and different cultural heritage. Moving on will be several real cases that can prove my case of making the tourism industry sustainable and more importantly profitable as long as everyone makes an effort.

St. Croix, the largest of the three major islands in U.S. Virgin Islands is located in the Caribbean Sea. It is imbued with a rich cultural mix, an...
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