Tourism, Environment, and Sustainable Development: Environmental Conservation

post by : Burkhard Danielle

Butler, R. W. (1991). Tourism, Environment, and Sustainable Development. Environmental Conservation, 18, 201-209. DOI: 10.1017/S0376892900022104.

Paying more attention to the development in touristic destinations and their surrounding areas has become a more and more important subject (Butler, 1991). This trend started when the awareness of being sustainable appeared, when tourism was often accused as having one of the largest impacts on the environment. However, the tourism needs the environment to perform well. Even though all touristic regions use environmental resources, some have not taken it into account when they developed their resorts. For many touristic destinations, it became difficult to change something because the costs and the impact on the economy in those destinations would be too heavy. However, for those that are just starting to be attractive for tourists and are now developing their strategies it is the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the others and consider the environment. Touristic destinations that exist for some time have four different solutions to solve their problems: They can diminish the number of tourists coming to the destination or they can limit it before there are too many. Both of those solutions will be very difficult to fulfill, because most people are traveling to where they want and when they want. Making those restrictions or changes can have a huge impact on the people willing to travel to the area. It would also be a problem to make the local population agree on those solutions.While a lot of destination are attracting mass tourism, which are mostly to blame for all the damages done to the environment, the destination can decide to attract only people that are interested in alternative tourism and that care about the environment. The downside of this solution is that many people who travel today will not be able to pay for that way of travelling.By making the resources that the destination is offering, like archeological areas, more resistant for the damage done by tourist, it might be possible to fewer the impacts on the environment. E.g. you cannot go visit the inside of Stonehenge because there is now a way around it which helps the historical place to not be affected by the tourists.The last solution to change the impact that tourism has on the environment is to educate not only the companies, governments, touristic regions, but also the tourists. It would be possible to do so by teaching them how to be sustainable in the long run and how to develop that. The education of the tourists needs to take place in their places of origin and not at the touristic destination. In this way, they will improve their knowledge about how to take care of the environment and how to travel sustainable. Overall, being a destination that attracts mass tourism you need to be aware of the impacts that it has on the environment and on how to keep them as low as possible. On the other hand, for destinations like Switzerland that are attracting the wealthier tourists and value quality over quantity, they have to make the local population and the government aware of the best regulations for the tourism destination. The most important part is that people become aware that tourism is as important as any other industrial sector and can have a huge influence on the economy of a country.