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Encyclopedia > Sustainable tourism

There are many different definitions of sustainable tourism that have been developed over the last decade. Most tend to assume that all tourists are responsible to respect and conserve a location's economic, environmental, and socio-cultural balances. Occasionally, authors will nickname these interconnected aspects: profit, plant, and people.

Global economists forecast continuing international tourism growth, ranging between 3 to 6% annually, depending on the location. As one of the world's largest and fastest growing industries, this continuous growth will place great stress on remaining bio-diverse habitats, often used to support mass tourism. Sustainable tourists are aware of these dangers and seek to protect their favorite destinations, and to protect tourism as an industry. Responsible sustainable tourists face many responsibilities to reduce tourisms impact on communities. We must:

  • inform ourselves of the culture, politics, economy of the communities we will visit.
  • anticipate and respect each culture's expectations and assumptions.
  • contribute to inter-culturally understanding and tolerance.
  • support the integrity of the local culture by participating with businesses that conserve cultural heritage and traditional values
  • support local economy by purchasing local goods and participating with small, local businesses.
  • conserve resources by seeking out businesses that are environmentally conscious, and by using the lowest possible amount of non-renewable resources.

Ecotourism is a subset of sustainable tourism, differing by its focus on ecology. Ecotourism is sustainable tourism that: "contributes actively to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage; includes local and indigenous communities in its planning, development and operation, contributing to their well-being; interprets the natural and cultural heritage of the destination to visitor; and lends itself better to independent travellers, as well as to organized tours for small size groups." [1] Ecotourism essentially means ecological tourism, where ecological has both environmental and social connotations. ...

Sustainable Travel

Travel over long distances generally requires a large amount of either time or energy. Generally we do this by burning fossil fuels, a largely unsustainable practice and one that contributes to Climate Change, via CO2 emissions. Variations in CO2, temperature and dust from the Vostok ice core over the last 400 000 years Climate change refers to the variation in the Earths global climate or regional climates over time. ...

Air Travel is perhaps the worst offender in this regard, contributing to between 2 and 3% of global carbon emissions [2]. Given a Business As Usual approach, this could be expected to rise to 5% by 2015 and 10% by 2050. Car (and other personal transport) travel, is the next worst offender. Business as Usual is the first album by Australian band Men at Work, released in 1982. ...

Mass transport is the most climate friendly method of travel, and generally the rule is "the bigger the better" - compared to cars, buses are relatively more sustainable, and trains and ships are even more so. Human energy and renewable energy is the most efficient, and hence, sustainable. Travel by bicycle, solar powered car, or sailing boats produces no carbon emissions (although the embedded energy in these vehicles generally comes at the expense of carbon emission). Renewable energy (sources) or RES capture their energy from existing flows of energy, from on-going natural processes, such as sunshine, wind, flowing water, biological processes, and geothermal heat flows. ... This racing bicycle is built using lightweight, shaped aluminium tubing and carbon fiber stays and forks. ... Solar power describes a number of methods of harnessing energy from the light of the sun. ... A sailboat is a relatively small wind-driven vessel used primarily for sports and personal purposes. ...


  1. Quebec Declaration on Ecotourism
  2. IPCC

See Also



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