With massive growth in tourism predicted in the coming years, two United Nations agencies have teamed up to produce a set of guidelines to help governments around the world to promote a sustainable tourism that spreads prosperity while avoiding harm to the environment and local communities.
For the first time, the UN World Tourism Organization (WTO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have combined their efforts to condense all aspects of the sustainability of tourism into a single publication, Making Tourism More Sustainable: a Guide for Policy Makers.
The Guide is a basic reference book that aims to provide tourism decision makers with a framework for developing policies for more sustainable tourism, a toolbox of instruments that they can use to implement these policies, and some selected case studies.
"According to how it will be planned, developed and managed, the massive growth predicted for tourism in the forthcoming years could provide excellent opportunities for spreading prosperity but could also represent considerable challenges and potential threats to the environment and local communities," the two agencies said in a news release.
"For instance, climate change is recognized as a major global issue, with significant implications for tourism. Similarly, sustainable forms of tourism can be strategically important for preserving delicate ecosystems and biodiversity, providing a sustainable form of economic use as opposed to more aggressive industrial activities."
They also noted the increasing appreciation of the potential role of tourism in addressing world poverty, through bringing a source of income to the heart of some of the poorest communities.
The Guide sets out a list of 12 aims for more sustainable tourism, presents the structures through which governments can work with others, deals with developing a strategy that embraces sustainability, including product and market selection, and lays out a set of instruments to be applied by governments, including sustainability indicators, planning, infrastructure, legislation and regulations.