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Importance of responsible and sustainable tourism

Importance of responsible and sustainable tourism

Responsible tourism is tourism that respects the tourism destination's environment, community, and culture. It aims to correct the adverse effects caused by irresponsible mass tourism. This type of tourism aims to create sustainable tourism development that protects the interest of local communities and the heritage sites within these communities.


Below are reasons why responsible tourism is important:

  • It makes tourists a part of the local community. When tourists become part of the community, they share the responsibility of protecting its well-being.
  • Enhances the economic well-being of the local community without compromising the integrity of the environment.
  • Sustainable tourism minimises the economic, social, cultural, and environmental negative effects of mass tourism.
  • It promotes the respect of local cultures and heritages.


What is sustainable tourism?


Sustainable tourism is a concept that focuses on the development of artificial and natural tourism resources so that it is used in the long term. The concept aims to conserve tourism resources to protect their existence. Sustainability aims to meet the tourism needs of the current generation without overwhelming the available resources. It also aims to protect the environmental interests of the future generations.


Sustainable tourism considers the economic, cultural, and environmental impacts tourism activities have on the present and future generations. Efforts towards sustainable tourism strive to maintain a healthy environment, preserve the local culture, and keep harmony between the wildlife and the local community.  


The goals of sustainable development are:

  • Creating awareness programs that help people understand the many contributions of the tourism industry.
  • Expanding the economic opportunities of local communities through tourism.
  • Maintaining a balance between the needs of the human population and the limited tourism resources.
  • Promoting environmental conservation


What are the components of sustainable tourism?


Geo-tourism


This type of tourism aims to maintain the geographical integrity of a place, its residents, culture, and environment. Geo-tourism fosters a geographical area's economic development without compromising the environmental protection of the tourist destination. The principles of Geo-tourism are used to maintain a balance between tourists' experiences, local culture protection, and preservation of the heritage site.


Cultural Tourism


This type of tourism enables tourists to visit a destination that offers authentic culture, heritage, and history. Tourists visit destinations of choice to experience and learn about the culture of the local communities. The practice can include taking part in events and festivals that hold value to the local communities to experience different cultures.


Eco-tourism


This type of tourism focuses on maintaining environmental sustainability, cultural appreciation, and economic opportunities for local communities. Eco-tourism aims to promote sustainable tourism development by providing eco-products that do not harm the environment, involve local communities, and not put profit above sustainability in the long run.


What are the characteristics of sustainable tourism?


Sustainability in tourism aims to preserve resources for future generations. Tourism contributes to local economies through revenues. It creates employment opportunities and uplifts industries like agriculture and the hotel industries. The numerous benefits the present generation enjoys due to tourism will be lost to future generations if sustainability fails to become a priority in the tourism industry. The following are the major characteristics of a sustainable tourism plan.


Protecting the interest of the environment and the local community


A sustainable approach equally protects the local community's interest and the resources available. Local communities depend on the resources available in their environment for sustained growth. The failure to manage tourism resources well can cause future generations to miss out experiencing them. A sustainable tourism development plan balances the needs of the present generation with the resources.


Promoting local economic development


A sustainable tourism development plan increases rather than minimises the local economy.  

Protecting the tourism ecosystem is ineffective if it hurts the local economy. A sustainable plan can take actionable steps to ensure that the rewards of protecting tourism resources do not undermine the economic opportunities of the local community. A productive plan provides mechanisms for sustaining and expanding the local economy.


Assuring longevity and viability


 The protection of the tourism industry can only be successful if it is an ongoing project. A sustainable tourism development plan seeks to solve the problems facing the tourism industry today while anticipating future problems. The key to ensuring the long-term success of the global tourism industry is balancing the unlimited needs of people with the scarce resources available. 


Types of sustainable tourism


Tourism is all about enjoying the gifts of nature and people and appreciating beautiful sights responsibly. It goes against the traditional tourism practices of mass tourism that have more negative than positive effects on the tourist sites, local communities, and the economy. Following are sustainable tourism examples:


Rural tourism


The goal of sustainable tourism is to reduce the negative effect of mass tourism on world's heritage sites. Rural tourism refers to tourism outside urban places. This type of tourism focuses on promoting city dwellers to experience a rural lifestyle.  


Rural tourism gives rural people the opportunity to share their culture, expand economic opportunities, and learn from tourists. It protects the environment because it’s unlikely large numbers of people will flock to the same rural area at the same time.


Community tourism


Community tourism focuses on giving exposure to local communities. The community hosts tourists in their homes where they can experience the hosts' culture. The eco-tourism aspect of community tourism is like that of rural tourism.



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