Sustainable Tourism Through Alternative Forms of Tourism

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Sustainable tourism is only achievable through the development of alternative and new forms of tourism. Critically discuss this statement with reference to one or more examples of alternative tourism in developed or developing countries.

The development of Sustainable Tourism has allowed society to meet their own present needs, without compromising such needs of future generations (Weaver and Lawton, 2010). Much attention in relation to sustainable tourism has been devoted to Alternative Tourism. Alternative Tourism aims to preserve environmental, economical and socio-cultural impacts tourists have on a destination. This paper will explore the benefits and criticisms of sustainability by a means of Alternative Tourism and also the threat regarding Alternative Tourism potentially developing into Mass Tourism.

Tourists visit foreign countries to obtain a sense of paradise, and dabble in a society that has not yet been corrupted (Buchner, 2003). Sustainable Tourism aims to provide such paradise by meeting the needs of tourists, without effecting the economy, environment and society in a detrimental way. Thus far, Sustainable Tourism has had a vast variety of implications, such as ethical considerations and the suggestion that it may just be a marketing ploy (Lansing and Vries, 2007). It also has been confused with Ecotourism, a form of tourism that places emphasis on a sustainable connection with the natural environment (Weaver and Lawton, 2010). However, Ecotourism is actually a form of Alternative Tourism and potentially Mass Tourism (Weaver and Lawton, 2010) thus fitting with a number of other new forms of tourism.

Alternative tourism has emerged and assumed to be effective in developing countries (Britton 1979). Alternative tourism is a substitute to the mass standard tourism, which is tourism that has the implication of culture being co modified and staged for culture consumption (McIntosh and Zahara, 2007), as philosophy and attitudes are dissimilar and the combination of tourist products and/or services are different from Mass Tourism. Forms of Alternative Tourism include Indigenous tourism, Pro-poor tourism, Community-based tourism, Ecotourism, Adventure tourism, Fair-Trade tourism, Educational tourism and Volunteer Tourism (Newsome, Moore and Dowling, 2002). For example, Fair-Trade tourism seeks to create a partnership between the local people at destinations, by providing social, cultural and economical benefits through adhering to national laws and establishing strong First World/Third World structures (Mowforth and Munt, 1998). A key focus on changing consumption levels lead to the establishment of tourism Concern’s International Fair Trade in Tourism Network. It found that to preserve attractions of destinations, whilst providing benefits it was substantial to adopt ethical trading practices (www.tourismconcern.org.uk).

Another successful alternative form of tourism takes place in Bulgaria. Here, resources for Alternative Tourism are diverse and it combines preserved nature with unique cultural and historical heritage, moderate climates, beautiful landscapes and hospital people who welcome differences and respecting traditions. They implement thematic tourism, which involves a connection between the cultural and historical heritage, the religion, traditional cuisine, wine, traditional music and handcrafts. They focus on the idea that Bulgaria is a place to rest and relax, whilst connecting with nature and that it should thus be a high priority and responsibility to preserve nature (Illev, 2006). This form of tourism is attractive to a tourist whom is seeking to escape the “daily grind” and thus has made Bulgaria a sustainable income base for such an alternative form of tourism.

It is often assumed that the basis of alternative tourism is a “green” strategy (Butler, 1992), as the objective is to reduce negative impacts environmentally. However, this is not completely the case as preserving the...
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