Sustainable Tourism Development

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Write an essay that 1) critically discusses the available definitions of Sustainable Tourism Development; 2) provides a list of possible policy interventions and guidelines designed to induce the tourist industry to adhere to the principles of Sustainable Development; 3) illustrates, using real world examples, the practical implementation of such policies and guidelines.

Tourism is one of the world's largest industries and has a multitude of impacts, both positive and negative, on people's lives and on the environment (1). For society to continue developing in the way it has done in the past, it is important to pay more attention to our environment. How this is best achieved is often a matter of opinion rather than fact, dependent upon different perspectives of the environment and views of nature. Recently, a concept has emerged that has attempted to bring together the best aspects of these different viewpoints, and to harmonise the development of mankind with the protection of nature. This is the concept of "Sustainable Development" (2). One of the most common understandings of this concept is that it involves maintaining our current rate of development whilst still leaving a suitable quantity and quality of resources behind for later generations to continue to develop. As one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, tourism has a key contribution to make to sustainable development. For many countries tourism is an industry of great economic significance and is seen as a main instrument for regional development, as it stimulates new economic activities (Amedeo Fossati et al., 2000: 9). When it is broken down, it is generally agreed that tourism has a positive economic impact on the balance of payments, on employment, and on gross income and production. However, it is then vital to acknowledge the negative effects, namely on the environment. Problems in this area must be tackled by considering their relationship with the state of the economy and the wellbeing of society. In fact, it has been explicitly stated that the environment, the economy and society taken together, include everything that we need to consider for a healthy, prosperous and stable life. Although it can be seen that sustainable development is all about integrating the environment, society and the economy; it is also important to be aware that the economy, and in turn society, exist within the wider context of the environment. This just illustrates the interdependence that exists between these three factors and the significance of this with respect to tourism is that when its impacts on any one of these factors is being assessed, considerations for the other factors must also be made. When attempting to search for deeper definitions of sustainable tourism development a frequent problem seems to arise with differentiating between this and the more general and commonly researched area of sustainable development for the economy as a whole. Here it is important to note that there is a very close associating link between these two concepts as the idea of sustainable development refers to a pattern of resource use that aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for future generations (2), while sustainable tourism development is more specifically concerned with how the changes in tourism patterns directly affect various countries differently in terms of the positive and negative externalities that are imposed. The concept of sustainable tourism development has only just emerged during the past two decades as it was given further impetus in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) in a report entitled, Our Common Future (WCED, 1987). Known as The Brundtland Report (3). The findings and recommendations made in this report led to sustainable development becoming a buzzword in the international development community, and more importantly alerted the...
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