Sustainable tourism is a concept of taking a visit to a particular location as a tourist; however, the visitor holds the intention of impacting the place they are visiting, either as an environment or a society.
The concept ideates that the visitor should leave an impact on the environment, community, or economy, or its host. As the name implies, it refers to traveling to a location that also requires the visitor to do something that would help or sustain the community in years to come. The impact is made with the future in view.
Although several people compare this concept with ecotourism, there is a focal difference between ecotourism and sustainable tourism. The formal focus on nature and the environment while the latter is more encompassing, covering the economy and societal activities.
A typical sub-concept of sustainable tourism should object to:
- optimizing the use of natural and environmental resources for its tourism development and maintaining ecological processes of the conservation of nature in its biodiversity
- socio-cultural authenticity of the home community (that is being visited) by respecting and submitting to their cultural heritage and traditional valuesas a virtue of understanding and tolerance
- allow long-term impact on operations in the society and economy such that stakeholders are benefited, and existing benefits are preserved, not being disrupted. This could also amount to creating new opportunities that do not disrupt existing ones, which would promote sustainable development goals
While sustainable tourism is the responsibility of the guest to its host, the government officials and political leaders, and other members of a host community have an active role to play in implementing sustainable tourism development measures. These development measures would favor visitors’ participation in sustainable activities.
As such, sustainable tourism is expected to be a satisfying adventure and experience for the tourist, meaning it is a two-way fulfilling undertaking.
The Importance of Sustainable Tourism
Like any other form of tourism, sustainable tourism dramatically influences the economy of the host positively. It generates revenues, and by the patronization of local businesses, the economy also grows internally and provides for the business owners.
Under proper management, sustainable tourism can positively influence the social, political, and cultural spheres of a country or immediate community. It opens up opportunities and connections that can be vastly tapped into by potential benefactors in the immediate communities.
How to Measure Sustainable Tourism
Sustainable tourism is not an abstract concept. It has several goals, including economic viability, local prosperity, social equity, visitor’s fulfillment, and resource efficiency, among others. But more, it has a measuring system that enables the tracking of the impact and contribution of a visitor towards sustainability.
To achieve these measurements, benchmarks are determined. In tourism, benchmarking referred to the comparison of the performance and utility rate of certain amenities in areas visited by tourists and ones not visited by tourists. They include business performance in sales per period, the consumption rate of electricity (kWh), freshwater consumption (liters or m3), waste generated (kg per night per guest).