The issue of sustainable development has become an important subject for policy research and policy formulation for countries across the globe. The changes that industrialized and developing countries alike have witnessed in the last few decades have made it imperative for them to take up the challenge of sustainability in development. Both industrialized and developing countries need to become more sustainable but face different challenges. It is these challenges that have made the stakeholders adopt a more focused approach. Aims Sustainable development requires the attention of the stakeholders in almost all areas of development.
In the past several decades however, discussions on sustainability have gained ground in the field of tourism, especially for developing countries. Sustainable development in tourism has become the focus of policies adopted by and for countries that have faced the challenges brought about by the recent natural occurrences. This essay will focus on providing a clearer understanding of sustainable development in tourism and identifying the challenges it is faced with by means of presenting the current realities and proposing some possible courses of action.
In order to put the issue of sustainable development in the proper perspective, it will be defined vis-a-vis its applicability in the tourism industry. How sustainable development efforts have fared in the area of tourism and what the concomitant problems and challenges are will also be discussed as well as the potential strategies that may be adopted considering the socio-economic, political and legal framework. Executive Summary Sustainable development in the field of tourism brings with it a host of challenges that developing countries have to address with utmost immediacy.
As a concept, sustainable development is defined in technical terms as “a development path along which the maximization of human well-being for today’s generations does not lead to declines in future well-being. ” The concept sustainable development of tourism is more specifically defined by the World Tourism Organization (WTO) as “referring to the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development, where a suitable balance must be established between these three dimensions to guarantee its long-term sustainability.
With the recent natural disasters that have plagued developing countries in recent years, the task of finding the strategies for more sustainable development has become increasingly challenging. Especially within the economic and political contexts of these countries, the challenges have always been and continue to be in how the strategies for more sustainability can be implemented.
There is not a lack of policies, there is only a ambiguity in how to implement them and it cannot be understated here that in any endeavor for sustainable development, efforts should always within the context of having local stakeholders participation and having the fruits of these efforts accrue to the intended beneficiaries. Results Available literature point to the reasons why sustainability is very critical in the tourism industry.
First, the critical areas where the risks of non-sustainability are highest have an impact on tourism to a large measure. These two areas are the human interference with the climate system and the unsustainable management of a range of natural resources. The second reason is that the tourism industry definitely has a wide reach and jurisdiction. The UN WTO considers tourism as an important global phenomenon involving the movement of millions of individuals to virtually all countries on the surface of the globe”.
Third, the growing concern on the possible negative impacts of tourism on the environment has had major political and economic impacts. The way to attain sustainability according to the OECD “requires eliminating those negative externalities that are responsible for natural resource depletion, environmental degradation, securing those public goods that are essential for economic development to last, like well-functioning ecosystems, a healthy environment and a cohesive society.
The WTO, on the other hand, advocates that sustainable tourism should “make optimal use of environmental resources maintaining essential ecological processes and helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity; respect the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities; ensure viable, long-term economic operations providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders.
Sustainable tourism development requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership to ensure wide participation and consensus building. WTO, 2004) As the bodies mandated to assist in sustainable development efforts, developing countries shall benefit from taking up their recommendations. Findings Despite all the talk about development, modernization, and globalization, developing countries have unfortunately not gone beyond solving the age-old problems of extreme poverty, political instability, environmental deterioration, marginalization, among others. We cannot over-emphasize them here as they are still within the midst of the struggles of developing countries.
The WTO and OECD advocacy programs for optimizing use of environmental resources, maintaining essential ecological processes, helping to conserve natural heritage and biodiversity, among others, have to be meticulously monitored and their implementation and compliance with ensured. In the recent years, after the unfortunate occurrence of the natural disasters in some countries in Asia like Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, an issue that was considerably given focus was corruption. This is very much a political as well as an economic issue.
There have been several attempts though at resolving this and one of these was the Jakarta Expert Meeting organized by the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific in April 2005. It discussed strategies for curbing corruption in tsunami relief operations. There is always room however for continuous efforts in this regard that developing countries have to vigorously exert. That the benefits of sustainable development in tourism do not accrue to the intended beneficiaries is a major concern for developing countries.
Developed countries that have expressed willingness to help and who have actually helped have joined hands in ensuring that corruption will not undermine the sustainable development efforts in these countries. Conclusion Considering what has been presented by the available literature and the recent developments in the area of tourism, the following are the recommendations of this paper as to how tourism in developing countries can be more sustainable