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Sustainable Tourism: A Local Authority Perspective

Sustainable Tourism: A Local Authority Perspective prepared by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)

1. A primary challenge of local governance, both today and in decades ahead, is to steer increasingly external, global forces on local development so that development achieves the shared vision of the local population. In cities, towns and villages throughout the world, the primary responsibility for this steering process rests with the institution of local government and its diverse local authorities.

2. As providers of social services, builders of economic infrastructure, regulators of economic activity, and managers of the natural environment, local authorities have many direct instruments at their disposal to influence development. Yet in addition to their direct roles in the development process, perhaps the most important role that local authorities can play in a global economy is that of facilitator among the diverse interests seeking to influence the direction of local development. Only with such a facilitator can a community of diverse interests define a shared vision and act consistent with this vision.

3. The role of local authorities as facilitators in the development process is reinforced through municipal international cooperation (MIC). With globalisation, the governance challenges facing local authorities in different parts of the world have increased in their similarities, transcending the national political and economic systems upon which different communities rely. These shared challenges of governance have instigated thousands of local authorities to establish municipal international cooperation projects and to join international local government organisations (LGOs) to advocate for local self-governance and control over the development process.

4. Even prior to the UN Conference on Environment and Development, but particularly since the adoption of Agenda 21, many local authorities and their LGOs have focused on the unique challenges of governance for sustainable development. At the local level, sustainable development is achieved by steering local development activities to simultaneously achieve three objectives:
• increased local social welfare;
• greater, and more equitably distributed, local economic wealth; and
• enhanced integrity of local ecosystems.

5. Thousands of local authorities, in partnership with their communities and supported by MIC activities, have instigated Local Agenda 21 processes to create a shared vision for local development that is consistent with the sustainable development concept. In response to these visions, local authorities have been adapting their practices and activities to steer local development along the sustainable development path. Local Agenda 21 processes, in conjunction with decentralisation policies originating at the national level, are transforming local governance and reorienting the process of local development in communities throughout the world.

6. Tourism is one of the many external forces influencing the direction and options for local development. The question of whether tourism can be sustainable—that is, whether it can contribute to local sustainable development—is rightfully addressed in the context of the Local Agenda 21 process.

7. A truly legitimate and practical discussion on sustainable tourism must take place in and with the communities that are being influenced by tourist industry development. It must create accountability of the tourism industry to locally-defined development visions. This paper provides an general call for the tourism industry, through both its local and transnational agents, to join and support the Local Agenda 21 processes in communities where tourism is a fundamental development force.

8. The true proof of “sustainable tourism” will be the sustainable development of local communities that serve as tourist destinations. It is time for the sustainable tourism debate to focus on this challenge. Local authorities worldwide welcome the leadership of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, and the interest of the tourism industry, to reduce tourism’s negative impacts and to increase the positive contribution of tourism business and consumption activity to local sustainable development.

Download the full report here .

This article is quoted from Tourism ROY Newsletter published on 2010-04-26.

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

There are so many visionary people and valuable resources related to a sustainable tourism development in Bangladesh. If these forces are united great things will happen – both on grass root, private sector and at government level.
Please join the online Views On Tourism network and discussion group in order to achieve personal goals as well as encourage a sustainable tourism development in Bangladesh. Read more about this group and how to become a member here.

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Posted in Best practice, Cooperation and network, Performance and management, Policy, Sustainability.

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