Sustainable Tourism Essay Example

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Traditional tourism involves the movement of people from one region, country or state to the other in order to view and even a better experience in venturing the rest of the world. Traditional tourism is the most commonly known form of tourism and is characterized the movement of tourist across the world. In its traditional form, tourism has been considered to be very wasteful. This is because of its role in preserving natural resources. Traditional tourism puts more emphasis on the tourists rather than the indigenous. The services provided are specifically meant to meet the needs of the tourists irrespective of their effect on the ecosystem. Under this form of tourism high quality services are provided for the visitors. More concentration is put more on entertainment and drinks (Buckley 2003). Traditional tourism has had a good share in contributing to infrastructural development tourist hotels and lodges, highly advanced transportation. The primary objective of this essay is to discuss in detail the concepts of mass tourism and sustainable tourism by looking at the available literatures. The essay will further evaluate the limitations and strengths of alternative tourism. Finally, in the essay, the author will discuss the need for sustainability in conventional mass tourism and the ways in which sustainability can be enhanced in mass tourism (Weaver 2006).

Sustainable Tourism & Sustainable Development

Sustainable tourism takes due consideration on economical, environmental and social-cultural impacts by different tourism activities. Sustainable tourism seeks to establish in which tourism can be sustained without impacting negatively on the economic status of the communities that host the visitors. Environment conservation and preservation is also a key consideration of sustainable tourism. This means that natural resources such as waters, forests and wildlife have to be protected from going into extinct. Social-cultural environment is protected under sustainable tourism. The social life of the people is improved through interactions with the visitors. On the other hand, sustainable development is the primary objective of sustainable tourism. Traditional form of tourism does not regard the wellbeing of economic, environment and social life of the communities involved (Wahab and Pigram 1997). This means that tourism activities cannot be sustained for long-term benefits. Tourism is an economic activity that is expected to bring about development in the society, but lack of conscience on the environment and culture has caused concerns on its applicability. In order to attain it is long-term benefits; sustainable tourism is expected to ensure that there is continuous development of the society irrespective of the tourism activities that take place (Harris and Leiper 1995).

Evolvement of sustainable tourism and development

The evolvement of sustainable tourism and development can be well understood by looking at it from the point of management perspective in respect to chronological development in sustainable tourism. The concept can be established from economic point of view whereby tourism activities were being carried out without due consideration to the environment (Kelly and Williams 2007). The evolution of sustainable tourism is dated as back as 1980s when numerous international conferences were held to determine the effect of mass tourism to the environment and sustainable development. Bramwell and Lane (1993), trace sustainable tourism to as early as 1973 according to the release on Ecological Principles for Economic Development (Dasmann et al., 1973). The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) had reflected on some of the same procedures for development managers in its release of the World Conservation Strategy. Sustainable tourism had received more support during the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Statement of Principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development (Hall and Lew 2000). Since then, sustainable tourism has seen numerous advancements for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons that sustainable tourism has continued to gain more popularity now and again is its ability to ensure that while natural resources are used for generating income, environmental, social and economical implications are taken into consideration.

Platforms of sustainable tourism and development


First and foremost, sustainable tourism has been encouraged and enhanced as one way of bringing about change in which tourism activities are committed. This is to ensure that tourism as an important economic activity is used to improve the lives of people alongside ensuring sustainability to the environment (Williams 2002).


Sustainable tourism is aimed at ensuring that economical, environmental and social-cultural live can be sustained for longer time irrespective of the tourism activities in the region.

Improved accessibility

Sustainable tourism is expected to assist people access different business opportunities through training and education in order to uplift the lives of the poor through maximization of opportunities.

Spatial Interactions

This is an environmental indicator which is used to asses how different mass tourism are programmed so as to ensure proper sharing of the available facilities (Lew and Alan 2008). This is done by giving consideration into Seasonality of events, urban development and shared infrastructures.

Policy reform

Sustainability tourism and development is the genesis to involving different participants in the process of planning, developing and managing tourism activities (Kelly and Williams (2007). It encourages partnerships between different stakeholders in developing appropriate goods and services for tourists.

Waste Management and Recycling

This is an environmental indicator which demonstrates the methods that are being used to make proper use of scarce resources such as land (Cater 1995). Going paperless is one such method that the environment can be saved.

Mass tourism

Mass tourism is the most common form of tourism in the world more especially in the countries where leisure tourism is common like the Europe, Caribbean and North America. Mass tourism being an act of visiting a certain destination by a large number of people at any one given time explains how mass tourism can have adverse effects on the environment. Under mass tourism tourists destinations are exploited over and over again. In many occasions the natural environment is the one that suffers the most while the infrastructure like telecommunication and communication gain
(Eagles et al 2002).

Conventional mass tourism

On the other hand conventional mass tourism comprises the move from traditional tourism to a more sustainable form of tourism. Following the development of tourism in the last view decades, altering of the conditions, has led into significant changes on the structures of the industry in many parts of the world. Industrial revolution has brought about tremendous changes in ways in which people can access different parts of the world. The immediate and most recent effect of these changes is the increased need for leisure time among the developed countries. The need to travel and explore among the developed countries has caused a great imbalance between work and leisure as many people are demanding for leisure time so that they can travel (Mihalic 2008).

Visitors and tourists in mass tourism

Mass tourism is characterized by the visitation of a place by the foreigners. They may include people who are out to adventure, study, leisure and entertainment (Lovelock 2002). In many occasions the tourists in mass tourism are seasonal and they come only at certain times of the years especially during holidays.

Alternative tourism

Alternative tourism is described as not being mass tourism. Alternative tourism entails different tourists’ products and services that are different from mass tourism in terms of supply, organization and human resource involvement. Alternative tourism may include different activities that are friendly to the ecosystem like biking, snowshoeing, ski mountaineering and diving. Cultural and historical events are also included in alternative tourism (Eagles et al 2002). Alternative tourism is characterized by the existence of medium and small companies which are either family or individually owned. In most cases people are in contact with the environment and they respect it. Alternative tourism has been developed as quest to help protect the environment from exploitation and at the same time ensure sustainable development. Under alternative tourism, tourism activities are well organized and controlled. Alternative tourism is so responsible to responding, controlling and managing systems that can enhance sustainable development (Hall and Lew 2000). Alternative tourism is now the most contemporary form of tourism. Alternative tourism could help attain sustainable tourism as it can be used to provide a solution to stopping the influence of foreign multinational companies (Hurlimannet al 2008).

Alternative tourism platform

Alternative tourism world over, has continued to receive substantial support from different governments and other international organizations like the United Nations. Alternative tourism came into being as away of dealing deteriorating environmental conditions as a result of mass tourism activities. Alternative tourism was expected to over lasting solution to environmental, economical and social-cultural problems caused by mass tourism (Mihalic 2008).

Strengths and weaknesses of alternative tourism


Economic and social growth

In the recent past, tourism development has continued to see tremendous changes. More and more interests are now shifted to natural resources and the knowledge that is contained about tourism. By employing the use of alternative tourism, regions are now able to develop and enhance their own economic and social lives (Coulter et al 2008). This is because visitors can now travel from one point to see for themselves the new things that are protected. Alternative tourism is associated with creation of employment for the locals. For example in the year 2008, tourism in Costa Rica had generated over US $1,538 million from foreign tourists (Lew and Alan 2008). This was about 25% increase in revenue as opposed to the previous year 2007. During the same period, the number of visitors had increased from 1,432,000 to 1,600, 000. This trend was attributed to the enhancement of tourism development through alternative tourism.

Protection of natural and cultural interests

In establishing certain protected areas, it is easy for governments to mobilize enough funds to conserve the natural resources. Charges levied from get entry are enough to achieve the management objectives of the tourism sites as well as service quality (Turner & Pearce 2001). Alternative tourism not only helps in preserving the natural resource but it also assists in ensuring local cultural heritage is sustained. It is through alternative tourism that historical, architectural and archaeological resources can be preserved. These resources in many occasions are self sufficient in generating funds that can be used for their preservation.

Enhanced quality of life

Alternative tourism is directly associated with the improvement of quality of the host community. This is as a result of increased economic activities and generation of revenue from the tourist activities. Local infrastructure is improved to enhance the tourist activities (Kelly and Williams 2007). This therefore means that the local are able better transport and communication services. The other facilities that are likely to be accessed include education and better healthcare.

Weaknesses of alternative tourism


The cost of alternative tourism is relatively high. The management planners are expected to tackle all the costs including financial and economic costs and social-cultural costs as well as environmental costs. Environmental cost is the most crucial one in realizing sustainability (Ioannides 2001). Establishment of protected areas will also mean environmental impacts on the areas involved.

Environmental risk

Use of protected areas as tourist sites requires very thorough assessment of the surrounding environment. This is because some areas are very sensitive in terms of natural ecosystems and natural habitats (Bramwell and Lane 1993). The problem of alternative tourism is the difficultness to shift into different economic activities such as agriculture, mining, urbanization and forestry. In many occasions, the facilities that are used extensively by the tourists tend to flourish and cannot be recycled to be used again in the future. One such good example of a facility that has been fully exploited is the infrastructure of the Ski hill facilities at the Alps. The resources there have been greatly depleted and it looks like in a view years to come, the infrastructure will be no more (Weaver 2006).

Sustainability of mass tourism

Mass tourism in it is natural form can be so injurious to the environment, economy and culture. This is because its activities are never controlled. Mass tourism as whole cannot be termed as unsustainable. It is some of the activities such as felling of trees, construction of roads and buildings as well as disposal of waste that make it demonic. It is important therefore to realize that alternative tourism may not be able to offer the expected solution alone (Hurlimann et al 2008). This is because some types of alternative tourism such as disaster, dark and ghost tourism as well as slum tourism cannot over a better alternative to mass tourism. In general terms, better planning and management of resources and community culture can make mass tourism a better form of tourism. Every form of tourism has got its own weaknesses and strengths.

Mass tourism can also be sustained through networking and providing best services for the visitors without necessarily degrading the environment. This involves in providing environmental information on the importance of protecting and saving the environment. Waste management and control is another way sustainable tourism can be attained. The sewerage systems ought to be well constructed and channeled to avoid breakages and thus polluting the environment. Environment analysis and study could also play a very crucial role in making sure the natural environment is safe (Wahab and Pigram1997). This can through individual contribution and support in improving the already degraded environment. Finally, education and public awareness helps in enlightening the society on the importance of regarding and protecting the natural environment.


In concluding this review, it is important to highlight that a number of conclusions have been drawn with regard to sustainable tourism, mass tourism and alternative tourism. First, in mass tourism, in many occasions, the facilities that are used extensively by the tourists tend to flourish and cannot be recycled to be used again in the future. In other word, mass tourism is not cautious of long-term and sustainable development. Second, it is clear that there is direct relationship between sustainable tourism and sustainable tourism. Third, mass tourism is the most traditional form of tourism development whereby short-term and free market issues were dominant above all other considerations. The review has also managed to establish that alternative tourism is used as counter reaction of the negative effects of mass tourism on development. Alternative tourism is said to have various strengths which include: Economic and social growth, Protection of natural and cultural interests and enhanced quality of life. In general terms, in order to achieve long-term development from tourism development, there is need to persistently develop policies which safeguard natural resources.


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