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The Biggest Challenge for Sustainable Tourism Development

Ecotourism, nature tourism, green tourism, adventure tourism,…….and several other nomenclatures have become popular and widely used by all the stakeholders of tourism industry including tourists. All of them have been evolved as alternative tourism practices; some out of sheer need felt by the stakeholders involved; some are simply for the sake of a new name for a same old activity. In case many of these activities, the basics remained unchanged and the practices followed by the stakeholders, ranging from local service providers to the tourists, are the same as they were 20 years back.

This raises a big question mark to the basic premise on which these alternative tourism practices were evolved. A need was felt from all quarters including academicians to service providers to social activists that unplanned and uncontrolled tourism practices will ultimately lead to destruction of present day tourism attractions as well as will only ensure increasing inequality within communities. Whereas, an appropriate planning and its proper implementation can can do wonder not only to preserve our tourism treasures, but can also act as one of the successful vehicle for all round development of the communities and regions. This was the prime reason why the concept of sustainable tourism evolved and has become so popular within such a short span of time. All the above mentioned nomenclatures, somehow or other, are part of the sustainable tourism development activities.

Despite sincere efforts made by many of the service providers, donors, governments, in most of the countries sustainable tourism is yet to make a substantial impact on overall tourism activities though it is perhaps the most discussed topic amongst all tourism issues. The biggest impediment to its success is the financial viability of the services related to them. Though large section of tourists are willing to enjoy the features that are related to any sustainable tourism project, their willingness to pay for the same or even the facilities they look for from the service providers, are not financially viable on part of the service providers. The lower rate of return on the investment as well as longer duration for cost cover, make several of the entrepreneurs avoid investing on sustainable tourism projects. And many of them, who invest on such projects, finally compromise either with the practices that are prescribed as sustainable tourism activities or start compromising with the quality of the services; in either case it finally leads to decrease in tourist turnover and into a snowballing effect of the same.

This prompts us that its time to make a concerted effort on part of all the stakeholders of tourism industry to create an environment that educates the tourists, the service providers as well a the community to understand the importance of the sustainable tourism. This perhaps will generate the awareness amongst all and lead towards sustainability of the projects aimed at sustainable tourism development.

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This article is quoted from the Tourism ROI Newsletter published on 2009-08.10.

This article is written by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.

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Posted in Development, Performance and management, Policy, Sustainability, World.

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