Wikipedia: Sustainability, Sustainable Tourism & Ecotourism


Marcus L. Endicott of the Green Travel Network has concatenated three useful Wikipedia definitions in the latest issue of his newsletter: Sustainability, Sustainable Tourism & Ecotourism

Sustainability is a characteristic of a process or state that can be
maintained at a certain level indefinitely. For planet earth, it is
thus the intent to provide the best outcomes for the human and
natural environments both now and into the indefinite future. One of
the most often-cited definitions of sustainability is the one created
by the Brundtland Commission, led by the former Norwegian Prime
Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. The Commission defined sustainable
development as development that "meets the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their
own needs."[1] Sustainability relates to the continuity of economic,
social, institutional and environmental aspects of human society, as
well as the non-human environment. Sustainability is one of the four
Core Concepts behind the 2007 Universal Forum of Cultures.

There are many different definitions of sustainable tourism, or
responsible tourism, that have been developed over the last decade.
Most tend to assume that all tourists are responsible for respecting
and conserving a location's economic, environmental, and socio-
cultural balances.

Global economists forecast continuing international tourism growth,
ranging between three and six percent annually, depending on the
location. As one of the world's largest and fastest growing
industries, this continuous growth will place great stress on
remaining biodiverse habitats, often used to support mass tourism.
Sustainable tourists are aware of these dangers and seek to protect
their favorite destinations, and to protect tourism as an industry.
Sustainable tourists face many responsibilities to reduce tourism's
impact on communities, including:

- informing themselves of the culture, politics, and economy of the
communities being visited.
- anticipating and respecting local cultures' expectations and
- contributing to intercultural understanding and tolerance.
- supporting the integrity of local cultures by favoring businesses
which conserve cultural heritage
- 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.

The Multilateral Investment Fund MIF[1] Focus on destinations where
there is already a critical mass of tourism businesses, MIF projects
[2] aim to boost the competitiveness of locally owned small and
medium enterprises, helping them to organize themselves and work
toward the shared goals of increasing income, employment and economic
development. See the Sustainable Tourism Action Plan and project
proposal Guidelines[3]

Ecotourism, also known as ecological tourism, is a form of tourism
which appeals to the ecologically and socially conscious. Generally
speaking, ecotourism focuses on local culture, wilderness adventures,
volunteering, personal growth, and learning new ways to live on the
planet; typically involving travel to destinations where flora,
fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions.

Responsible ecotourism includes programs that minimize the negative
aspects of conventional tourism on the environment, and enhance the
cultural integrity of local people. Therefore, in addition to
evaluating environmental and cultural factors, an integral part of
ecotourism is in the promotion of recycling, energy efficiency, water
conservation, and creation of economic opportunities for the local

Many global environmental organizations and aid agencies believe that
ecotourism has great potential for sustainable development.[2]

Ideally, ecotourism should satisfy several criteria[3][4], such as:

- conservation of biological diversity and cultural diversity,
through ecosystem protection
- promotion of sustainable use of biodiversity, by providing jobs to
local populations
- sharing of socio-economic benefits with local communities and
indigenous people by having their informed consent and participation
in the management of ecotourism enterprises.
- increase of environmental & cultural knowledge
- minimization of tourism's own environmental impact
- affordability and lack of waste in the form of luxury
- local culture, flora and fauna being the main attractions

For many countries, ecotourism is not simply a marginal activity to
finance protection of the environment but as a major industry of the
national economy. For example, in places such as Costa Rica, Ecuador,
Nepal, Kenya, Madagascar, and Antarctica, ecotourism represents a
significant portion of the gross domestic product and economic

The concept of ecotourism is widely misunderstood, and in practice is
often used as a marketing tool to promote tourism that is related to
nature. Critics claim that ecotourism as practiced and abused often
consists of placing a hotel in a splendid landscape, to the detriment
of the ecosystem. According to them, ecotourism must above all
sensitize people with the beauty and the fragility of nature. They
condemn some operators as "greenwashing" their operations; using the
label of "ecotourism" and "green-friendly", while behaving in
environmentally irresponsible ways.

Although academics disagree about who can be classified as an
ecotourist[2] and there is precious little statistical data, some
estimate that more than five million ecotourists - the majority of
the ecotourist population - come from the United States, with others
from Western Europe, Canada, and Australia.

Currently there are various moves to create national and
international ecotourism accrediation programs[7], although the
process is also controversial. Ecotourism certificates have been put
in place at Costa Rica, although some critics have dismissed these
programs as greenwashing.

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