Sustainable development : Eco-Insights
In our latest eco-insights piece Eco Companion’s Kieran looks at how sustainable development is impacting tourism.
The power of sustainable development in relation to tourism is infinite, ensuring that a location’s services and products are available and even better, improved for years to come. Often when reading on sustainable development through my personal studies, the term ‘3 pillars of sustainability’ keeps popping up as a result of the way which sustainability in its many forms is described. Sustainability, if you weren’t already aware, is the act of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. In an ideal world it essentially means to continually improve the present without damaging the future. The term ‘3 pillars of sustainability’ derives from 3 different sectors which without one, the other two would fail to succeed, social, environmental and economic – all 3 have to be standing for sustainability to be achieved.
What does this mean for the inner traveller in all of us?
Referring back to the 3 pillars, if you were to visit say, Mexico as an example and either the social life, the environment or the economy had severe problems it might put you off visiting? I know it would for me! You can only sit in your all-inclusive so long before being affected by the country you’re visiting. The idea and hope is that you can visit a destination and leave it in a similar, if not, an improved state to when you arrived. That’s the essence of eco travel and that would make you a sustainable tourist and/or traveller!
Sustainable development as a whole involves actions of the many, which is why it’s often very hard to achieve, except for a few case studies such as Costa Rica. Well done Costa Rica we’ll come onto you later! To break it down, the government and the people all have to be on-board to ensure actions are being made to protect the environment for their country, but also do it in a way that makes money to develop and keep the local society happy. I am a strong believer this can be done, however with greed and the expectations of cheap holidays abroad it creates a heart breaking case for something having to give and often or not it’s the environment.
Let’s jump into some case studies.
Thailand, home to many a secluded beach, huge open skies and unfortunately a growing reputation as a home of social disregard to the country and people.
Don’t get me wrong, we love a good party at Eco Companion. However, Thailand’s global reputation for its world famous full-moon parties has attracted many tourists into the area with little to no sustainable development. Expecting cheap as possible drinks, plenty of room on the beach and to see some of the world’s most fantastic animals up close (remember, always visit animal sanctuaries where they make a pro-active effort in the protection of such animals). Thailand is a prime example where tourist’s understanding and actions are evidence of leading a country into a dilemma regarding sustainable development. Home to some of the most picturesque and beautiful places in the world it will always be attractive to tourism, however the disregard to Thailand’s environment has meant areas such as the Koh Tachai national park has had to instigate periods of banning tourists.
Banning tourists unfortunately is an ever increasing strategy to allow the environment and even the social impact of tourism to recover. These issues clearly aren’t irreversible, with the likes of Venice, Santorini, Barcelona and more, joining Thailand in banning tourists for periods of recovery. The aim being to either allow the environment to hopefully restore to a healthy, manageable state or so that tourists who do go, get a full and not overly crowded experience. This is a prime example of sustainable development in action within tourism management.
Costa Rica, who we here at Eco Companion love, are pioneers in the efforts made in recent years by countries to up there sustainable tourist development game.
Considered the nature tourism capital of the world, it’s accessibility for tourists is amazing, as are its efforts in supporting the local economies which is what sustainable and responsible tourism is all about. The best thing about Costa Rica and why it is so far advanced is the options available to you, many of which are sustainable and supporting, it really is a communal effort. From the support of indigenous communities through supporting small, niche tourist operations to its environmental stance in creating national parks and wildlife reserves it really does cover all areas of the 3 pillars of sustainability we talked about earlier!
That was just a quick glance at the power that sustainable tourism has. But, not only that, hopefully it gives you some insight into the problems that many locations have and why succeeding in all 3 areas is so difficult. We can only hope that more places that we work with at Eco Companion continue to develop their sustainable tourism efforts!
Costa Rica leads the way in sustainable tourism. You can help their efforts on our
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