Making Sustainable Tourism Work
Rosa Ocampo, SFCC
August 23, 2019
In the face of an overtourism crisis, a growing number of industry players are becoming more attuned to manage tourism in a responsible manner. But it’s not just about the environment, as the human side of the equation should not be neglected.
While there is no dearth of sustainable tourism initiatives, the overarching question is whether travel consumers and industry players are engaged enough to meet responsible travel in this age of mass tourism.
After all, awareness about responsible tourism, while growing, is still at a nascent stage. “We’re far from achieving the goals. A lot of work needs to be done,” PATA CEO Mario Hardy said at the sidelines of the PATA Annual Summit 2019 in Cebu
“We have to get together and get this fixed once and for all. We cannot continue to damage this beautiful planet,” Hardy pointed out.
Various organisations have been rolling out initiatives to address sustainability, one of the biggest challenges in travel and tourism. The UN has Sustainable Development Goals (SDG); WTTC recognises best tourism practices, among other projects; and last May, PATA published a report on how food waste and excess in tourism can be halved as part of its BUFFET Campaign.
American nonprofit Planet Happiness has initiated an online survey metric that measures the wellbeing of residents and communities in world heritage sites, including Ayutthaya and Sukhothai in Thailand; Bali, Borobudur and Komodo National Park in Indonesia; Hoi An in Vietnam; and Luang Prabang in Laos.
Planet Happiness co-founder and director Paul Rogers told TTG Asia that the objectives are to raise awareness about the need to identify alternative measures of development – apart from GDP – and to address overtourism through responsible and sustainable forms.
As more destinations worldwide grapple with overtourism, an industry refocus on destination management – rather then destination promotion – has emerged. This move is exemplified by Slovenia which is aligning its tourism branding along dimensions of sustainable development.