What is sustainable Tourism?
Although the term Sustainable Tourism is widely used are there still many different definitions of it around. Many people think sustainability is only about the environment and that sustainable tourism is the same as ecotourism or green tourism. But sustainable tourism is much more. It includes besides the environment the fair treatment of people and the possible benefit that the engagement could and should generate.
The local culture, heritage, traditions and community should be respected. Locals and the nature shouldn’t be exploited. It’s also about avoiding leakage and focusing on linkage. Leakage means that revenues from tourism leave the destination while linkage stays for keeping the revenues at the destination.
Tourists stay longer and spend more money
Does sustainable tourism generate money?
Yes, it does! In a sustainable destination revenues will rise, because sustainable destinations attract a different type of traveler. There is a special group of wealthy travelers to whom it is important to care for the planet and themselves. This group is described with the abbreviation “LOHAS” which stays for Lifestyle Of Health And Sustainability. People in this growing group are looking for sustainable destinations where their visit has a positive instead of a negative impact. This type of traveler is willing to pay a higher price for this and has generally a higher income to be able to afford this.
Sustainable travelers are less price sensitive and spend in average around 50 percent more money during their stay. Sustainable travelers often stay longer than standard travelers. They spend quite often one to two weeks at a destinationen instead of just a few days others do. Furthermore does this groups travel more often with friends which generates a higher amount of visitors. This group prefers to buy local products and support the local community. They are especially looking for authenticity. They do not only like local produced food, they also like to see the farm where vegetables are produced, animals grow up and so forth.
Sustainable travellers want to experience the uniqueness of the places they visit
Are there more benefits?
Yes, there are! Sustainability in a destination generates more local jobs and improves the quality of work. It provides more opportunities for local people to start their own business, in tourism or tourism related areas. Sustainability increases the positive feeling inside the community for its place. They are easier to engage in touristic projects as they see how it benefits the local community.
Sustainable travelers prefer authentic places which helps preserving and strengthen local culture, heritage and traditions. These travelers want to visit and support sustainable destinations so that they have a good feeling about their travel and can enjoy without getting a bad conscience.
Sustainable tourism creates jobs
What are you waiting for?
Experts expect Sustainable tourism to grow and to become more and more important for the travel industry. The expected growth is around 4% per year, which is higher than in a lot of other sectors. In other words: Sustainable tourism is on the way to go mainstream!
All this leaves the question, why do not more destinations work with sustainable tourism? In fact the focus on sustainability is very weak in the tourism sector. There are almost only advantages! Can your destination afford to not start working sustainable?