What is sustainable tourism?
Nachhaltigkeit im Tourismus
Sustainable tourism, fair travelling, integrative tourism, green tourism: The general concept behind those terms is the same. The aim is to develop travel offers and to travel in a way that is mindful of cultural identities; doesn’t harm the environment; gives economic prospects to the local population and therefore is fair towards both the environment and the locals.
Among experts, the term “sustainable tourism” (or, more precisely, “sustainable tourism development”) has become prevalent. It can be enshrined in the recognised principles of the United Nations.
The concept of “sustainable development” was adopted as a guiding principle for policy-making at the UN Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. It aims at equally satisfying the economic, ecological, social and cultural needs of our society on a long-term basis. Thereby, sustainable development is defined as “development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
In the 1990s, this guiding principle was seized by many organisations related to the tourism sector and adapted for specific practice in the travel industry all around the world. The term “sustainable tourism” had been established.
“Sustainable tourism has to meet social, cultural, ecological and economic requirements. Sustainable tourism holds a long-term view, for present and future generations, ethically and socially just and culturally adapted, ecologically viable and economically sensible and productive.”
(Translated from the definition of the German Forum on Environment and Development, 1999)
Sustainable tourism is not the same as ecotourism. The latter very often is associated with the observation of flora and fauna whereas sustainable tourism is a far more comprehensive concept and designed to be applicable in the entire tourism system – which also encompasses mass tourism.