To talk about sustainability in tourism the term tourism first has to be characterized. While tourism always is a combination of different parts, for instance accommodation, transport, emotions or regulatory frameworks, the WTO (World Tourism Organization) describes it as something that “comprises the activities of persons travelling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business or other purposes” (Holden, 2001: 3). So first it is necessary to understand the complexity of tourism and that it is not inconclusively for fun or leisure (Holden, 2001). A place or destination is always a combination of many characteristics and if one of them is disturbed by any reason this may affect a hundred others. So not only tourism but also sustainability in tourism appears to be an “evolving complex system” (Farrell & Twining-Ward, 2005: 110).
Although tourism is an important economical and income factor, its planning should not only focus on those aspects but also on ecological stability as an essential requirement for future tourism in a certain region (Lotter, 2010). So the increasing demand for travel (Holden, 2001) makes a long-term planning of sustainable solutions necessary to ensure an economical profitability of tourism now (intragenerationally) and in the future (inter-generationally), especially concerning the infrastructure as one of the main causes for environmental damage.
For a further discussion about the impacts of tourism and sustainability it has to be differentiated between different terms. According to Holden (2001), sustainable tourism puts emphasis on the customer and marketing and wants to spread the view that tourism does not damage the environment and should be supported, sustainable development rather talks about achieving bigger social and environmental goals through tourism. This way of execute tourism is “economically viable but does not destroy the resources on which the future of tourism will depend, natebly the physical environment and the social fabric of the host community” (Saarinen, 2006: 1124).
This article is a discussion about sustainable tourism and ecotourism, including economical, environmental and socio-cultural dimensions to get an objective view on tourism‟s impacts and various kinds of approaches to a solution.
Tourism`s Impacts on the environment
Tourism does have positive and negative as well as direct and indirect impacts on four main parts: the economy, the ecology, the socio-culture and the tourism policy. Talking about sustainability and ecotourism emphasis has to be put on the ecological point of view.
Concerning negative impacts on the environment Neto (2003) differentiates between a pressure on natural resources and damage to ecosystems. While a pressure on natural resources is mainly about using up land and fresh water, but also energy, food and basic raw materials, the ecosystem is damaged by waste and pollution of all kind. Holden (2001) adds the aspect of behavioral consideration, for example crime, the disruption of breeding patterns of wildlife or tourists walking over corals or plants. But tourism does not only have negative impacts on the environment. There are many examples of cases where tourism positively influenced the environment of a place or even the whole destination. Tourism is for example a way to protect the environment from more damage like logging or mining. It is also an important reason to maintain a high nature quality to attract tourists and for instance restore historical sights like the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids or Stonehenge, to create national and wildlife parks, to protect reefs and beaches (like the Great barrier Reef) or to maintain forests (Cooper et al., 2008).
Sustainable Tourism and Ecotourism
The starting point when talking about sustainable tourism is the conservation of natural recourses and the protection of the population‟s interests. So tourism has to be integrated in the local and regional culture to create a high quality value of travel and an authentic culture and a planning of sustainable development and the recultivation of destinations, which do not correspond to those standards, is necessary. To find out where the natural capacity limit is reached at a certain destination, physical, psychological, biological and sociological aspects have to be considered. But in most cases only physical conditions are regarded (Lotter, 2010). To create sustainable tourism Lotter (2010) describes two options to act:
- Corrective actions of regional planning and policy to prevent consecutive symptoms of the tourism development.
- Tourism offers in environmentally and socially friendly components conforming to the principle of sustainability.
- Quote paper
- Laura Klöpping (Author), 2011, Tourism's Impacts, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/189313