This article will provide a brief overview about the historical background, importance, concepts, principles and general debates about sustainable tourism.
Sustainable tourism is one of the pre-requisites of achieving sustainable development. the concept of tourism with sustainability and development gets its historical inclusion from mass tourism that got flourished in 1960s due to advent of jet aircraft and the passions for tourism got tremendous following and it also reached Third World countries (Dann, 2002). It was also argued that this boost pushed organizations like World Bank and UN to examine the cost benefit analysis of tourism and it was acknowledged that potential costs of tourism are far lower than financial benefits in shape of balance pf payment surpluses, infrastructure development, and employment and foreign exchange gains. So that gave rise to the concept of sustainable tourism as one of the source of bringing sustainable development. According to the World’s Summit on Sustainable Development (2002), it is claimed that Tourism is the world’s largest industry where in 2000, 698 million people travelled internationally which 7.3 % more than 1999. Similarly the economic worth of international tourism was US$477.9 billion in 2000 (Papers4you.com, 2006).
In terms of one concrete definition, literature suggests that it is not fixed and is ever evolving. However Coccossis (1996) asserts that sustainable tourism can be taken in four different interpretations that include” economic sustainability of tourism”, the “ecologically sustainable tourism”,” sustainable tourism development” with both focus of environment as well as long term feasibility of the industry and finally “tourism as a part of a strategy for sustainable development”.
As mentioned above, sustainable tourism should be taken in consideration to environmental and resources effects. It was argued that Mediterranean tourism is the main source of economic gain for the reason however short term growth was overlooked with long term adverse effect and deterioration of their ecosystem and resources (Farsari, 2000)
Effects of ignorant tourism on its sustainability include: ‘over consumption of natural resources ,environmental degradation, exploitation of cultures and labour, displacement of people from their land, lack of consultation with local communities, poorly thought out tourism planning and high foreign exchange leakage which reduces local economic benefits’ in long run (World’s Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002),
Where such effects are there to pose a threat on sustainable tourism there are guiding principles that can lead to ensure sustainability (Papers4you.com, 2006). Those principles include sustainable use of resources, waste and over-consumption reduction, diversity maintenance, tourism-planning integration, local economy support as well as local community involvement, consultation, training, research and responsible marketing (Farsari, 2000)
So the discussion suggest that tourism industry has potential to be a prerequisite for sustainable development, however it is imperative to realize that focus on mass tourism only can pose danger to environment so in order to ensure sustainability in tourism, guiding principles should be followed
Coccossis, H. (1996) ‘Tourism and Sustainability: Perspectives and Implications’ in Priestley, G. et al. (eds), Sustainable Tourism? European Experiences, U.K.: Cab International
Dann, G, M, S, (2002), “Tourism & Development”, in Desai V and Potter, R. (eds) (2002), The Companion to Development Studies, London: Arnold,
Farsari, Y, (2000), ‘Sustainable Tourism Indicators for Mediterranean Established Destinations’, Heraklion: IACM & FORTH
Papers For You (2006) “C/T/32. Sustainable travel & tourism”, Available from http://www.coursework4you.co.uk/sprttrav4.htm [22/06/2006]
Papers For You (2006) “C/T/27. Sustainable Tourism Development”, Available from Papers4you.com [21/06/2006]
World Summit on Sustainable Development, (2002), ‘Sustainable Tourism and the Earth Summit’, Briefing Paper, Aug 26-Sep 06, 2002, London: Tourism Concern. Also available on