Sustainable tourism is a relatively new concept that aims to minimize the impact on the environment and preserve local culture. It protects local ecosystems, while at the same time generating income and employment. In a nutshell, it is responsible tourism that is both ecologically and culturally sensitive.
Sustainable tourism develops and implements programs that lessen the negative effects of traditional tourism on the natural environment, and protects the cultural integrity of the local people. Such programs create economic opportunities for local communities. Following this concept, tourism service providers should respect the cultural traditions of the local people while promoting recycling, energy efficiency, and water re-use.
Tourists should be respectful of the local customs and traditions and learn a few words before visiting the country (please, thank you, you’re welcome, good morning, good afternoon, good night). To learn about the culture, do your “homework” before visiting an area – read up on the area. Don’t be a tourist who thinks
“Today is Tuesday, so this must be Mérida”. Be aware of where you are, what the area is about, and what problems it might face.
Successful tourism should benefit local populations economically and culturally to give them incentives to protect the natural resources, which often represent the main attraction. At the same time, projects must be economically feasible for private investors. The goal is to enable people to enjoy and learn about the natural, historical and cultural characteristics of unique environments while preserving the integrity of those sites and stimulating the economy of local communities.
What is Sustainable Tourism?
It’s informative. Travelers not only learn about the destination, they learn how to help sustain its character while deepening their own travel experiences. Residents learn that familiar things may be of interest and value to outsiders.
It supports integrity of place. Destination-savvy travelers seek out businesses that emphasize the character of the locale in terms of architecture, cuisine, heritage, aesthetics, and ecology. Tourism revenues, in turn, raise locally perceived value of those assets.
It benefits residents. Businesses do their best to employ and train local people, buy local supplies, and use local services.
It strives for quality, not quantity. Communities measure tourism success not by sheer numbers of visitors, but by length of stay and quality of experience.
It conserves resources. Environmentally aware travelers favor businesses that minimize pollution, waste, energy consumption, water usage, landscaping chemicals, and unnecessary nighttime lighting.
It respects local culture and tradition. Visitors learn about and observe local etiquette, e.g. using a few courtesy words in the local language. Residents learn how to deal with visitors’ expectations that may differ from their own.
It does not abuse its product. Stakeholders anticipate development pressures, apply limits, and manage resources to prevent the “loved to death” syndrome. Businesses cooperate to sustain natural habitats, heritage sites, scenic appeal, and local culture.
It means great trips. Satisfied, excited visitors bring new knowledge home and send friends off to experience the same thing – which provides continuing business for the destination.
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