Sustainable Travel & Tourism, What It Is & Why It Matters

Posted by TripMapper | 5th August 2022

Sustainable travel and tourism are about making positive choices that minimise, or remove, negative social, economic and environmental impacts from tourism.

Want to learn more about sustainable tourism? Read on!

What Is Sustainable Tourism?

There is no one-size-fits-all definition of sustainable tourism, as the concept can be interpreted in a number of ways. In general, sustainable tourism refers to sustainable practices which aim to minimise negative impacts from tourism in terms of environmental, economic and social impacts while maximising its potential as a vehicle for social, cultural, and economic good.

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GTSC) defines sustainable tourism as tourism which "takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities."

The GTSC establishes and manages global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, known as the GSTC Criteria.

What are the GTSC Criteria for Sustainable Tourism?

There are two sets of criteria, destination criteria for public policy makers and destination management and industry criteria for for all types of tourism-related business, and are designed to be adapted to local conditions and supplemented by additional criteria for the specific location and activity.

The criteria are organized around four main pillars: effective sustainability planning; maximizing social and economic benefits for the local community; enhancing cultural heritage; and reducing negative impacts to the environment, as summarised further below:

1. Sustainable Management

The GTSC criteria for sustainable tourism management include four key components: effective planning, efficient resource use, sound financial management practices and strong commitment from all stakeholders.

2. Socio-economic Impacts

The criteria for sustainable tourism also consider the socioeconomic impact of tourism on local communities. This includes ensuring that tourism benefits local residents and businesses, and does not cause adverse social or economic effects.

3. Cultural Impacts

The GTSC believes that sustainable tourism should help preserve and promote local cultures and traditions instead of harming them. This includes ensuring that tourism does not adversely affect local culture and traditions and that it helps to preserve and promote cultural heritage.

4. Environmental Impacts

In order for tourism to be sustainable, it must be environmentally friendly and support the conservation of natural resources. The GTSC, therefore, promotes practices such as waste reduction, energy efficiency, and water conservation.

What is Responsible Travel?

Sustainable travel and responsible travel are intrinsically linked. According to the GSTC "Sustainable Tourism refers to sustainable practices in and by the tourism industry" whereas "Responsible Travel is a term used when referring to the behavior of travelers aspiring to make choices on their trip according to sustainable tourism practices."

By travelling more responsibly travellers can affect change for the better!

Why Is Sustainable Travel and Tourism Important?

International travel has grown exponentially since the 1950s and continues to grow at a rapid rate. By collectively making responsible choices that minimise negative impacts of tourism, we can make significant positive changes allowing us to continue traveling for generations to come.

"When responsibly planned and managed, tourism has demonstrated its capacity to support job creation, promote inclusive social integration, protect natural and cultural heritage, conserve biodiversity, generate sustainable livelihoods and improve human wellbeing." - The World Tourism Organization

Final Thoughts

Sustainable travel and tourism seeks to minimise the negative impacts of tourism on the environment and local communities. Whether it is by choosing the most sustainable destinations, staying at sustainable accommodations, using the services of travel companies that are certified as sustainable, seeking out local experiences and local guides, or going flight-free where possible, we can all play a part by travelling responsibly.

We don't need to stop travelling, but being aware of sustainability issues and embracing sustainable tourism practices as far as possible is a change for the better. Download TripMapper, the best travel itinerary app, today, and start planning your own sustainable trip!

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