Tourism development refers to the creation and maintenance of a tourism industry within a particular location, and sustainable tourism development is concerned with ensuring this process takes factors like environmental, cultural and economic sustainability into account. Here, you can find out more about sustainability within tourism.

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What is Sustainable Tourism Development?

Sustainable tourism development is the process of creating and maintaining a sustainable tourism industry in a particular location, region, country, or part of the world. This means that tourism practices should place an emphasis on environmental sustainability, cultural preservation, and long-term social and economic benefits.

Essentially, sustainable tourism development can be thought of as the creation of a tourism industry that does not prioritise the needs of now ahead of the needs of the future. A sustainable industry should take the appropriate steps to optimise the use of resources, minimise waste, and provide socio-economic advantages for the host region.

Sustainable tourism is important because it is necessary to maintain the long-term future of the tourism industry. When tourism is made more sustainable, it can create jobs and economic growth, while avoiding situations where local communities are exploited, displaced, or made to feel like their culture is being adversely affected.

Why is Sustainable Tourism Development Important?

When left unchecked, the global tourism industry can contribute enormously to environmental issues, while also causing harm to local communities, cultures and businesses. For example, flights are a major contributor to climate change, while tourism development can lead to the displacement of indigenous people or wildlife.

The process of making a location more accessible to tourists and providing entertainment can lead to the destruction of the natural world. It is also important to understand that the economic impact of tourism is not always universally positive and some businesses and local people may suffer when steps are not taken to promote fairness.

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Generally, sustainable tourism development focuses on three main areas, which are as follows:

Environmental Impact

The environmental component of sustainable tourism development is concerned with preserving the natural world and minimising the use of natural resources. This means taking steps to promote ecotourism and avoid damaging plants and wildlife, while also minimising greenhouse gas emissions and the use of water and fossil fuels.

Socio-Cultural Impact

The socio-cultural element of developing sustainable tourism is sometimes overlooked but is critical to building a viable long-term tourism industry in a particular location. This is concerned with issues like preserving local culture, avoiding negative impacts on local society, and minimising problems like overcrowding.

Economic Impact

The economic component of sustainable tourism development centres around issues linked to finances. Tourism can contribute enormously to local economies, helping regions to thrive. However, without the right steps, the benefits for large and multi-national organisations can far outweigh the benefits for smaller businesses in the local area.

6 Benefits of Sustainable Tourism Development?

While tourism can threaten environments, culture and local economies, it can also provide significant benefits too. For those in the tourism industry, the key is to try to create a sustainable model by maximising the positives, minimising the negatives, and ensuring the needs of today are not placed before the needs of tomorrow.

Sustainable tourism development allows those in the industry to become a force for good. Below, you can learn more about some of the specific benefits that are associated with this approach to tourism development.

1. Attract the Sustainable Traveller

One of the major benefits of sustainable tourism development is the ability it can provide those involved in the travel industry to attract customers who are specifically interested in sustainable travel. This is a growing market, especially as people become more aware of climate change and their personal contributions to the problem.

Research shows that people prefer to buy from conscious businesses and that they would be willing to pay more for services from socially responsible businesses. Failing to act responsibly could mean a loss of customers, whereas your business acting responsibly is unlikely to put any travellers or tourists off.

2. Sustainability Creates Added Value

Sustainable tourism development can also benefit those in hospitality management, hotel management and similar fields by providing added value. A good way to think of this is if two tourism-related companies are offering similar products at a similar price, sustainability can serve as a competitive differentiator.

As social pressure increases and more people demand sustainable travel products and services, businesses that rise to the challenge are likely to see extra benefits. For instance, websites, blogs, travel agencies, magazines and social media channels that specialise in sustainable travel could highlight your business as a positive example.

3. Trust Travellers to Be Responsible

Sustainable tourism development can also help to create a give-and-take relationship between businesses and their customers. This kind of two-way dynamic is one of the more exciting hospitality trends, but it is also being seen across other areas of the travel and tourism industry too, including transportation.

People are becoming more conscious about the food they eat, the products they buy, and the ways in which they travel. Businesses that get involved in sustainable tourism development can do so with the knowledge that a significant segment of the market is actively researching sustainable travel and looking to reward responsible companies.

4. Create a Dialogue and Support the Local Community

The tourism industry and local communities can sometimes come into conflict because their goals often differ. Yet, with sustainable tourism development, tourism leaders and travel management can create more of a dialogue between businesses and local people, resulting in a more mutually beneficial relationship, and one based on respect.

When this kind of dialogue is created, tourism companies can help to support the local community and this, in turn, can enhance the experience for your guests, as they will know they are funding a responsible business. At the same time, employees are likely to experience a greater sense of pride, and the local community can benefit from the additional jobs and the greater amount of money being put into the local economy.

5. Improve the Infrastructure of the Destination

One of the other important benefits brought about by sustainable tourism development is the improvements made to local infrastructure. In order to accommodate an influx of tourists to a region, investment needs to be made in transport, for example, and sustainable development will focus on options like trains in order to reduce emissions. This then has benefits for the local population, as well as those travelling to the region.

In rural areas, sustainable tourism efforts tend to balance visitor and local needs. Depending on the region and the opinions expressed, this could lead to technology improvements, such as faster internet connections, improved roads and public transport, and the addition of new attractions that will draw visitors to the area.

6. New Opportunity for Innovative Businesses

Tourism can help to create demand for new products, services and other goods, and this can provide opportunities for innovative businesses that have their fingers on the pulse and that offer something of value. Value, in this context, could be anything from quality food and beverages, to sports and recreation services.

The opportunities provided to businesses in the region can help to improve relationships between tourism companies and the local community. At the same time, businesses that move into the area can also capitalise on the demand for goods and services, and these businesses can provide high-quality jobs for local people as well.

Sustainable Tourism Development: A Complete Guide

To fully understand the concept of sustainable tourism development, it can be important to delve deeper into the topic of sustainable tourism in general, including definitions, the different types of sustainable tourism that exist, the advantages, and some real-world examples of sustainable tourism in action.

The “Sustainable Tourism Guide: What is, Why Important, Examples and More…” article will provide you with further insights into the topic and help you to improve your knowledge and understanding.

Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Development

Within the broader topic of sustainable tourism development, there are a number of different types of sustainable tourism. Ecotourism is the type that many people immediately think of when exploring the topic, and this refers to tourism where damage to the natural environment is minimised.

Read the “Ecotourism: What it is, Advantages & Disadvantages, Examples & More” article to learn about ecotourism as a concept, the pros and cons, the educational component of ecotourism, and some real-life examples.

Sustainable Tourism Development and the Rise of Slow Tourism

Sustainable tourism development can be further aided by highlighting the qualities that make a particular place an ideal slow tourism destination. Slow tourism refers to an approach to tourism that pushes back against mass tourism. Instead of cramming in travel experiences, slow tourism focuses on sustainable, meaningful experiences.

You can learn much more about slow tourism, including how it can be defined, and why it is becoming increasingly important, by reading the “Slow Tourism: What It Is, Its Importance, and Examples” article.

Sustainable tourism development is the process of creating and maintaining a functional tourism industry in a particular location while ensuring that the industry is as sustainable as possible. This means that it should preserve natural wildlife, avoid harming local culture, and provide social and economic benefits for local residents.

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