Tourism stakeholders in Britain need to engage pro-actively with the environmental debate, and develop a business case and vocabulary to interact constructively with the public, government and regulators; otherwise there is a danger that the industry will be a bystander in the formulation of policy which could impact it considerably.
Tourists who promote sustainable tourism are sensitive to these dangers and seek to protect tourist destinations, and to protect tourism as an industry. Sustainable tourists can reduce the impact of tourism in many ways, including:
∑ informing themselves of the culture, politics and economy of the communities visited
∑ anticipating and respecting local cultures' expectations and assumptions
∑ contributing to intercultural understanding and tolerance
∑ supporting the integrity of local cultures by favoring businesses which conserve cultural heritage and traditional values
∑ supporting local economies by purchasing local goods and participating with small, local businesses
∑ conserving resources by seeking out businesses that are environmentally conscious, and by using the least possible amount of non-renewable resources
Sustainable tourism strategies would include the following (illustrated where relevant by initiatives being currently pursued in Scotland):
Strategic challenge 1: Promotion of "responsible tourism" to our own people
Itís informative. Travelers not only learn about the destination, they learn about how to help sustain its character while deepening their own travel experiences. Residents learn that the ordinary and familiar 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 o f architecture, cuisine, heritage, aesthetics, and ecology. Tourism revenues in turn raise local perceived value of those assets.
∑ it benefits residents. Travel businesses do their best to employ and train local people, buy local supplies, and use local services.
∑ 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. Foreign visitors learn about and observe local etiquette, including using at least a few courtesy words in the local language. Residents learn how to deal with foreign expectations that may differ from their own.
∑ It does not abuse its product. Stakeholders anticipate development pressures and apply limit and management techniques to prevent the "loved to death" syndrome. Businesses cooperate to sustain natural habitats, heritage sites, scenic appeal, and local culture.
∑ it strives for quality, not quantity. Communities measure tourism success not by sheer numbers of visitors, but by length of stay, money spent, and quality of experience.
∑ 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. (Source: National Geographic)
Strategic challenge 2: Concerted action to reduce the seasonalit' of demund
The concentration of tourism trips in certain periods of the year has a maijor effect on sustainability. Not only does it reduce the viability of enterprises to maximise capacity utilization and offer year round employment, it can also place pressure on communities and natural resources at certain times while leaving surplus capacity at others.
Seasonality of demand makes it very difficult to plan and manage the provision of tourism facilities efficiently. A process of stimulating demand at less busy times of the year, taking up spare capacity, would enable revenue from tourism to grow while putting less pressure on the environment and community.
Strategic challenge 4: Minimising resource use and waste
Tourism can be a significant and, at times, profligate user of environmental resources. Much of the action required to address this challenge rests with strengthening environmental management in tourism enterprises:
∑ minimising energy consumption and encouraging the use of renewable sources and improved technology.
∑ promoting and facilitating the reduction, reuse and recycling of materials, water quality, including the efficient treatment of sewerage, avoiding discharge into marine and river environments
∑ reducing and managing litter,
∑ developing and using local supply chains, in particular to reduce food miles.
Strategic challenge 5: Looking after our natural and cultural heritage
The quality of the natural and cultural heritage is, in most areas, fundamentally important (to the generation of economic prosperity through tourism, to the quality of life of local communities and to the visitor experience. All three cart benefit from:
∑ strengthening the relationship between protected areas, biodiversity and local tourism interests
∑ visitor management, information and interpretation, and monitoring
∑ increasing contributions to conservation and management from visitors and tourism businesses
∑ quality products and services
Strategic challenge 6: Enhancing qualify of life for local communities through tourism
Tourism has significant power to change the character and prosperity of the places where it occurs. Two types of change present particular challenges and opportunities for local communities at the moment: property development associated with tourism (e.g. the proposed Trump golf course or the building of houses to be used as self-catering or second homes) and the restructuring of local economies, resulting from a decline in traditional activities. Careful destination planning and management is required to:
∑ maximise the proportion of income that is retained locally and other benefits to local communities,
∑ strengthen local supply chains and promote use of local produce and merchandise (e.g. craft goods), shops and other services by visitors.
Strategic challenge 7: Improving the quality o f tourism jobs
One of the key impacts, and benefits, that tourism has is through the employment opportunities it offers. To make sure that tourism brings net benefits to those it employs we need to encourage:
∑ exchange of good practice in tourism training and HR management,
∑ integration of sustainability issues into mainstream tourism training and education,
∑ active promotion o f tourism as a career.
Strategic challenge 8: Making holidayís available to all
Social inclusion and equity are important principles o f sustainable development. It is estimated that around 40% of European citizens do not take a holiday, often due to various forms of deprivation or disability.
Relevant action includes:
∑ raising business awareness of the size of the market,
∑ designing and adapting tourism facilities and sites to meet (not just legislative but market-driven) requirements for physical disability and sensory impairment.
∑ improving information relevant to disabled people and under-privileged groups
∑ encouraging a broad price range in tourism facilities and experiences
∑ pursuing specific schemes to facilitate and encourage holiday taking by people on low incomes.