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Sustainable Tourism Analysis Essay

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Updated: Feb 19th, 2022

Introduction

Sustainable tourism implies great social responsibility, the fulfilment of obligations in relation to nature Sustainability is not possible without active participation of local population – they should act as a driving force behind the management of tourism activities. Therefore, it requires massive volumes of investment and discipline in order to make tourism sustainable. Perceived costs have made people wonder whether or not it is feasible to achieve sustainability in mass tourism. On the one hand, experts state that it is economically not possible to sustain tourism because of a lack of financial incentives. On the other hand, people claim the opposite – tourism can be sustainable and profitable at the same time, but rigorous work is required to accomplish this task. This paper will discuss three examples of sustainable tourism and explore whether or not mass tourism sustainability is achievable.

Why sustainability is important

In recent decades, the tourism sector has demonstrated that it can stimulate economic development and help create new jobs. Modern tourism is an important socio-economic sector, accounting for about 10% of world GDP and 7% of world trade.1 It also accounts for one of 10 jobs in the world. About 1.2 billion people annually travel and cross borders – because of this fact, tourism has become a means of intercultural dialogue, social integration, peace, reconciliation, and development.2 The UN Assembly declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.3 It included tourism to the list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals approved by leading countries of the world. At the same time, society is witnessing the industry’s diversification in terms of new directions and markets, the growing influence of new technologies, and a change in the structure of consumer needs. The desire for authenticity and unique experiences is among the ever-increasing motivations for travelling.

Because of the growing number of people that travel abroad and an increase in consumption, it has become necessary to consider attaining sustainable means of delivering tourism products. Without new methods and approaches, irreparable damage can be done to the environment and the biosphere. Instead of thinking of economic profit, countries should work on sustaining the environment to save the planet for future generations. However, individuals and companies always act in their self-interest and incentivizing the industry to consider sustainable approaches is becoming the most crucial topic. While the majority of the world is pondering how to accomplish this objective, however, some countries have successfully integrated the philosophy of sustainability into their tourism sectors. Among the notable examples are the islands of Belize, Norway and Bhutan.

Belize – an example of sustainability

Belize has doubled its commitment to tourism that protects the environment at all costs without offering massive and extensive services. With their meticulous offer of boutique hotels and the crystal-clear waters that every diver dreams of, the country is reducing waste and pollution. Belize’s Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia unveiled a new campaign in Mexico City with an ambitious plan to promote the industry and attract Latin American and Mexican guests, due to their geographical proximity and cultural and historical similarities.4 Located on the Yucatan Peninsula, between Guatemala and Mexico, Belize, with a population of just 400,000 people, receives one and a half million tourists from cruise liners.5 Another 490,000 people come to Belize on their own, and most of them are from the United States, Europe and Canada.6 Heredia emphasised the significance of sustainability for the Belizean tourism sector.

The fact that the country is working toward sustainability can be evidenced by several factors. More than 65% of the island’s area and waters are protected areas.7 Also, in around 800 small boutique hotels, there are only 9000 rooms for living, and that all local restaurants belong to small entrepreneurs in the country.8 There are no international food companies such as McDonald’s and Burger King on the island, which may contribute to pollution and waste.9 Belize is demonstrating that sustainability can be reached if people will be satisfied with small profit margins and focus on serving a large population in small chunks. Therefore, the government does not allow the construction of large hotels.

Norway

This country also has made vital steps toward sustainability in tourism. Some regions show a little more concern for the environment than others. In Norway, they care about ecology, a unique culture, local way of life and the well-being of visitors. Norway’s strategy for sustainability is different than it is in Belize – instead of promoting a nation-wide campaign, the Norwegian government is focusing on its small regions in isolation. Therefore, different destinations may have varying levels of sustainability.10 The certificate of environmentally sustainable destinations is the only Scandinavian certificate for travel destinations. Its goal is to support the development of initiatives and enterprises whose activities are related to ecology, concern for the local customs, cultural heritage and economy of the region. Although this certificate does not mean that the area is 100% environmentally friendly, it indicates that the region has already started its path to achieve this goal.11 Destinations are evaluated every three years and are given recommendations if shortcomings are discovered.

Like Belize, Norway is not concentrating on providing massive services. Their perception of sustainability is limited to offering products aimed at smaller audiences. The Minister of Labour and Social Inclusion, Roe Isaksen, confirmed that Norway is not leaning toward scalability and large profits. Instead, the country will achieve its sustainability goals by limiting the number of visitors. As stated by many of the local guides, one of the primary issues is the tourists’ lack of knowledge of regional environmental characteristics. It is safe to assume that Norway will be willing to accept only those tourists that are prepared for such an environment. Necessary knowledge may include information on how to preserve local fauna and ecosystem. Local guides are instructed to inform tourists about implications regarding a region’s sustainability strategy.

Bhutan

Bhutan is one of the notable examples of sustainability in tourism. Untouched by colonialism, the country had the opportunity to keep local customs safe from external impact. This situation allowed the country to develop the tourism industry using the principles of sustainability. Despite being open to foreigners, the government is aware that tourists can influence the unique and almost untouched landscapes of Bhutan and its culture. Therefore, it has limited tourist activity from the beginning, preferring top-quality tourism. Since 1991, the Bhutan Tourism Corporation has been operating as a quasi-autonomous and self-financing organization that implements the government’s tourism policy.12 The Bhutanese government, however, privatized the corporation in October 1991, promoting private investment and operations. As a result, in 2000, there were already more than 75 licensed travel companies in the country.13 Each tourist must pay a high fee for each day of stay in the country.

The number of tourists entering the country is not limited and is determined by the number of places in hotels. However, the daily visitor tariff ensures that only a qualified audience enters the state.14 The collected money is then used to invest in the modernization of the tourism facilities so that they meet contemporary requirements for sustainability. Much of the infrastructure, education and healthcare is financed from the funds attained from incoming tourists.15 Like Norway and Belize, Bhutan is aiming toward sustainable but limited tourism. However, the government’s method is different from the strategies proposed by Norway and Belize. Because the current quantitative evidence is insufficient, it is not yet possible whether or not such measures are contributing to sustainability.16 However, preliminary analysis and visitor reviews suggest that Bhutan is moving toward in the correct direction.

What can be learned from these cases

Belize, Norway, and Bhutan are proving that sustainable tourism is a feasible objective. However, there are also significant implications to consider, and each of these countries is providing their examples. Belize is not aiming at providing a wide range of tourist products. The country is concentrating on preserving its environment by limiting the diversification of the product portfolio. Food and beverage services and accommodation are delegated to small local companies. This approach is allowing the country to eliminate the presence of large organizations which may contribute to waste and pollution.

Norway has a different approach – it is going toward compliance and readiness. The country’s goal is to allow each region to have its own strategy and provide certificates to those who demonstrated compliance. This method may increase competitiveness between regions and improve the overall quality of tourist services while ensuring sustainability. Currently, there are differences between sustainability levels of varying regions. It can be expected that all areas of the country will achieve their objectives in the coming years, however.

Bhutan is aiming at providing high-quality tourism with a negligible impact on the environment by imposing tariffs. This approach limits the number of people visiting the country while still generating sufficient amount of profit. All three countries believe that only by limiting the number of tourists, it is possible to sustain tourism activities. These cases raise several questions, including whether or not it is possible to make massive tourism sustainable. According to the provided examples, however, massiveness contradicts to sustainability. Instead of being self-indulgent and pursuing economic prosperity, tourism companies should become more responsible. It is reasonable to conclude that despite the overall increase in revenues, tourism may become a privilege of only those who can afford it.

Conclusion

This paper provided several examples of how sustainable tourism is being implemented around the world. It is too early to discuss the environmental impact of these initiatives. In summary, sustainable tourism is only possible when the number of tourists is controlled and constrained. Despite differing approaches, Belize, Norway and Bhutan are ultimately aiming toward limiting the number of incoming tourists. Local companies, to compensate for the difference, may raise prices, which will impact the travelling potential of the majority of the population. In other words, sustainable tourism may become a luxury product for a minority that can pay for it.

Reference List

Chow, M. J. T., Tourism in Belize: Ensuring Sustained Growth, Washington, International Monetary Fund, 2019.

Edgell, D., Managing Sustainable Tourism: A Legacy for the Future, New York, Routledge, 2020.

Hall, C. M., and Allan M. W., Tourism and Innovation, New York, Routledge, 2020.

Hall, C. M., and Stephen J. P. (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Tourism in Asia, New York, Routledge, 2017.

Lyngnes, S., and Prebensen, N., ‘Sustainable Mountain Tourism in Norway’, CAUTHE 2020: New Perspectives on the Diversity of Hospitality, Tourism and Events, Auckland, New Zealand, University of Technology, pp. 522-524.

Mathou, T., ‘Bhutan in 2016: A New Era Is Born’, Asian Survey, vol. 57, no. 1, 2017, pp. 56-59.

Footnotes

  1. D. Edgell, Managing Sustainable Tourism: A Legacy for the Future, New York, Routledge, 2020, p. 10.
  2. D. Edgell, Managing Sustainable Tourism: A Legacy for the Future, New York, Routledge, 2020, p. 10.
  3. D. Edgell, Managing Sustainable Tourism: A Legacy for the Future, New York, Routledge, 2020, p. 12.
  4. M. J. T. Chow, Tourism in Belize: Ensuring Sustained Growth, Washington, International Monetary Fund, 2019, p. 4.
  5. M. J. T. Chow, Tourism in Belize: Ensuring Sustained Growth, Washington, International Monetary Fund, 2019, p. 6.
  6. M. J. T. Chow, Tourism in Belize: Ensuring Sustained Growth, Washington, International Monetary Fund, 2019, p. 6.
  7. M. J. T. Chow, Tourism in Belize: Ensuring Sustained Growth, Washington, International Monetary Fund, 2019, p. 8.
  8. M. J. T. Chow, Tourism in Belize: Ensuring Sustained Growth, Washington, International Monetary Fund, 2019, p. 8.
  9. M. J. T. Chow, Tourism in Belize: Ensuring Sustained Growth, Washington, International Monetary Fund, 2019, p. 9.
  10. S. Lyngnes and N. Prebensen, ‘Sustainable Mountain Tourism in Norway’, CAUTHE 2020: New Perspectives on the Diversity of Hospitality, Tourism and Events, Auckland, New Zealand, University of Technology, p. 522.
  11. S. Lyngnes and N. Prebensen, ‘Sustainable Mountain Tourism in Norway’, CAUTHE 2020: New Perspectives on the Diversity of Hospitality, Tourism and Events, Auckland, New Zealand, University of Technology, p. 522.
  12. T. Mathou, ‘Bhutan in 2016: A New Era Is Born’, Asian Survey, vol. 57, no. 1, 2017, p. 57.
  13. T. Mathou, ‘Bhutan in 2016: A New Era Is Born’, Asian Survey, vol. 57, no. 1, 2017, p. 57.
  14. T. Mathou, ‘Bhutan in 2016: A New Era Is Born’, Asian Survey, vol. 57, no. 1, 2017, p. 58.
  15. C. M. Hall, and J. P. Stephen (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Tourism in Asia, New York, Routledge, 2017, p. 42
  16. C. M. Hall, and M. W. Allan, Tourism and Innovation, New York, Routledge, 2020, p. 57.
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