Sustainable Tourism

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Tourism is one of the world's fastest growing industries and is a major source of income for many countries. Being a people-oriented industry, tourism also provides many jobs which have helped revitalise local economies. However, like other forms of development, tourism can also cause its share of problems, such as social dislocation, loss of cultural heritage, economic dependence and ecological degradation. Learning about the impacts of tourism has led many people to seek more responsible holidays. These include various forms of alternative or sustainable tourism such as: 'nature-based tourism', 'ecotourism' and 'cultural tourism'. Sustainable tourism is becoming so popular that some say that what we presently call 'alternative' will be the 'mainstream' in a decade. All tourism activities of whatever motivation - holidays, business travel, conferences, adventure travel and ecotourism - need to be sustainable. Sustainable tourism is defined as "tourism that respects both local people and the traveller, cultural heritage and the environment". It seeks to provide people with an exciting and educational holiday that is also of benefit to the people of the host country. This module explores the characteristics and objectives of sustainable tourism through a series of case studies. It also helps identify ways in which sustainable tourism can be introduced to students.

To appreciate the benefits and problems arising from various forms of tourism, especially in terms of social equity and the environment; To develop a critical awareness of the ways in which tourism can enhance the welfare of people and protect our natural and cultural heritage; To promote a personal commitment to forms of tourism that maximise rather than detract from sustainable human development and environmental quality; and To plan ways of teaching about sustainable tourism.

1. The rise of tourism 2. The benefits and problems of mass tourism 3. The benefits and problems of ecotourism 4. Being an enlightened traveller 5. Teaching about ecotourism 6. Reflection

_____ (1993) Tourism: The Final Brochure, New Internationalist, July. _____ (1999) Tourism, Our Planet, 10(1). Boo, E. (1990) Ecotourism: the Potentials and Pitfalls, Vols. 1 and 2, WWF-US, Washington DC. Fennel, D.A. (1999) Ecotourism: An Introduction, Routledge, London. France, L. (ed) (1997) The Earthscan Reader in Sustainable Tourism, Earthscan, London. Groth, A. (2000) Sustainable tourism and the environment, Connect, 25(1), pp. 1-2. Hall, C.M. and Lew, A.A. (eds) (1998) Sustainable Tourism Development, Addison Wesley Longman, Harlow, UK. Harrison, D. (ed) (1992) Tourism and Less Developed Countries, Bellhaven Press, London. McLaren, D. (1999) Rethinking Tourism and Ecotravel, Kumarian Press, London. Wheat, S. (2004) Ecotourism - hope and reality, People and the Planet.

Internet Sites
Ecotourism Society Exploring Ecotourism Online Resource Guide Sustainable Tourism Research Interest Group (STRING) United Nations Environment Programme Tourism Project UNESCO World Heritage Centre

UNESCO World Heritage Centre - For Teachers World Tourism Organisation

This module was written for UNESCO by John Fien, Margaret Calder and Clayton White using material written by Rob Gilbert in Teaching for a Sustainable World (UNESCO - UNEP International Environmental Education Programme).

Activity 1: The rise of tourism

Begin by opening your learning journal for this activity.

Tourism is one of the world's fastest growing industries. For example, there were around 25.3 million international tourist arrivals in 1960. By 1990, this figure had risen to 425 million, 17 times the earlier figure. By 1997, it had risen to 613 million. The World Tourism Organisation forecasts that this figure will more than double to 1.6 billion people by 2020. The importance of this rapid growth in tourism can be seen by the fact that travel and tourism...
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