»’TOURISM»‘ Key Concept Paper on ‘Sustainable tourism’ Essay Example

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Sustainable Development and Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable Development and Sustainable Tourism


The concept of sustainable development has emerged as a new thinking in a bid to save the planet from social, economic and environmental ills (Pineda and Brebbia 2012, p. 4). The importance of sustainable development has been seen especially in the tourism industry where the concept emerged just barely two decades ago and has been adopted in the form of “sustainable tourism.” This paper begins by explaining the difference between the concept of sustainable development and sustainable tourism and proceeds to explain the reasons these concepts have emerged as critical issues in contemporary tourism policy and planning.

Concepts of Sustainable Development and Sustainable Tourism

The concept of sustainable development being a new and emerging concept has no single agreeable definition and has been defined in many different ways. According to the United Nations (2015), sustainable development is the process of fulfilling the human development objectives in a sustainable manner through efficient utilization of the ecosystem services and natural resources that the society and the economy depend upon. The Word Bank Group (2001), however, defines sustainable development as development that satisfies the present needs if the people without interfering with the future generations’ ability to meet their needs. From both the definition, the commonality is that sustainable development has to do with protecting the environment from degradation by living within its limits, as well as promoting the economic and social wellbeing of the people. The concept of sustainable tourism, on the other, hand was derived from the concept of sustainable tourism about two decades ago. Pineda and Brebbia (2012, p. 2) define sustainable tourism as the adoption of tourism practices and activities that seek to promote economic, socio-cultural and environmental sustainability. This implies that tourism has to be sustainable economically, socially and environmentally for it to be considered sustainable tourism.

Reasons for the Emergence of the Concepts as Issues in Contemporary Tourism Policy and Planning

The concepts of sustainable development and sustainable tourism has emerged as major issues in contemporary tourism policy and planning for many reasons. First, the concepts have emerged in contemporary tourism policy and planning due to the increased need to protect and conserve the environment (Haakenson 2012). Tourism is one of the industries that contribute immensely to environmental degradation and pollution. The tourism activities such as transportation of tourists contribute significantly to the global warming effect (Pineda and Brebbia 2012, p. 21). Besides, tourism activities interfere with the natural environment, such as forests, beaches and waterways, as well as the build environment that includes heritage sites and ruins. Therefore, sustainability has emerged as a key issue in tourism policy and planning as a way of ensuring that the natural and built environment are preserved for use by the future generation.

Second, the concept of sustainability has become a major issue in contemporary because of the increased recognition of social and cultural impacts that tourism has on the local community. When tourists visit a place, this might result in overcrowding and congestions in cities and towns; increased crime rate might be recorded; there could be introduction of new values and languages, as well as influx immigrant workers (Haakenson 2012). Therefore, social cultural sustainability is important in tourism policymaking and planning as it ensures that the negative impacts are minimized while the positive aspects are promoted for the benefit of the host community and the tourism industry at large. This is usually achieved by involving the host community in tourism industry.

Lastly, sustainability has become key issues on in tourism policy and planning because tourism industry needs to make good money to ensure its sustainability for the future generation (Hawkins and Middleton 2009, p. 34). Economic sustainability is also important for the tourism industry as it ensures that the local community benefits from the tourism activities through job creation and infrastructure development among others.


Sustainable development is one of the new thinking in the tourism industry. As highlighted, sustainable tourism seek to promote economic, social and environmental sustainability of the tourism industry.


Haakenson, M 2012, The importance of making travel destinations more sustainable,
viewed 16 August 2016 http://www.gstcouncil.org/blog/504/the-importance-of-making-travel-destinations-more-sustainable/

Hawkins, R., & Middleton, V. T. C 2009, Sustainable tourism. Taylor & Francis, New York.

Pineda, F. D., & Brebbia, C. A 2012, Sustainable tourism V. WIT Press, London.

The Word Bank Group 2001, What is sustainable development, viewed 16 August 2016 http://www.worldbank.org/depweb/english/sd.html

United Nations 2015, Sustainable tourism, viewed 16 August 2016 https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/topics/sustainabletourism