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Sustainable Tourism involves social responsibility, a strong commitment to nature and the integration of local people in any tourist operation or development. Sustainable tourism is defined by the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), the Tourism Council (WTTC) and the Earth Council as:

Sustainable Tourism Development meets the needs of present tourists, host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunity for the future. It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems. Sustainable tourism products are products which are operated in harmony with the local environment, community and cultures so that these become the beneficiaries not the victims of tourism development.

Responsible Tourism, Soft Tourism, Minimum Impact Tourism and Alternative Tourism are terms with a similar meaning as Sustainable Tourism.They are, for the purpose of this module included in the term Sustainable Tourism.

Some factors can be seen as "drivers", pushing the tourism industry towards a sustainable development approach.

These are:

  • Increasing regulatory pressure;
  • Growing awareness of cost savings from sensible resource consumption;
  • Tourism professionals and operators recognise that environmental quality is essential for a competitive product;
  • The awareness by governments and operators that the growth of tourism can have a negative impact on the environment;
  • A growing awareness of communities about their potential to influence tourism policy

The municipality of Calvià on Mallorca, Spain, suffered over-development and environmental degradation in the 1970ís and 1980ís, due to massive tourism investment. In order to restore the communities, radical changes had to be implemented. In Calvià a local Agenda 21 process led to closing of many run-down hotels, landscape restoration, establishment of new protected areas and the creation of environmental charge on the sales of hotel rooms. The environmental development was joint by public awareness raising and marketing campaigns to improve the cityís image, leading to increased employment opportunities as well as popularity amongst the visitors.

Source: Calvià: Local Agenda 21, Calvià

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