Sustainable Travel

Protect Vulnerable Destinations


Tourism & sustainability

on 02 March 2021

Tourism is a major component of economic growth all over the world. Especially in coastal areas where it is also a for sustainable development. Tourism is expected to exert an increasing influence on coastal landscape, ecosystem and cultural heritage management.

Coastal tourism, as well as tourism in general, is to a large extent dependent on an environment that is attractive to visitors. Consequently, protection of natural and cultural heritage is a precondition for sustainable coastal tourism. Protecting areas and sites constitutes an efficient and necessary way of safeguarding natural and cultural heritage. Therefore, such areas contribute strongly to sustainable coastal tourism, even though a sound balance between protection and development has to be strived for in each individual case.
This is why the nations of the world have committed themselves to the sustainable development of their natural and cultural heritage by signing international agreements. Some of them specifically address coastal zones but the majority is more general and wide ranging.
Natural heritage includes biodiversity, natural scenery, value for outdoor recreation, etc. and is best managed in line with the requirements of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Two main objectives of the Convention are:
1. the conservation of biological diversity;
the sustainable use of its components.

Environmental impacts
Tourism can create great pressure on local resources such as energy, food, land and water that may already be in short supply.
According to the Third Assessment of Europe’s environment (EEA, 2003), the direct local impacts of tourism on people and the environment at destinations are strongly affected by concentration in space and time (seasonality).
They result from:
a. The intensive use of water and land by tourism and leisure facilities.
b. The delivery and use of energy.
c. Changes in the landscape coming from the construction of infrastructure, buildings and facilities.
d. Air pollution and waste.
e. The compaction and sealing of soils (damage and destruction of vegetation).
f. The disturbance of fauna and local people (for example, by noise).
The growing number of tourists visiting sensitive natural areas may also jeopardize nature conservation. Some conflicts may also arise between tourism development and other sectors such as agriculture and forestry.

Tourism resources
Tourism is dependent upon the attractive power of the destination’s primary resources:
Natural resources (climate, landscape, ecosystems);
Cultural resources (urban heritage, arts, archaeological values, traditions, science values, folk crafts and sub-cultural formations);
Social resources (potential tourism developers with socio-demographic characteristics, abilities, financial capital, knowledge, health - environment - property security system, local community interests etc.).
Moreover tourist destinations provide secondary resources:
Accommodation sector (hotel, motel, camping, guest house etc.);
Catering sector (café, restaurants, bistro etc.);
Travel organisation sector (agencies, tour operators etc.);
Transportation sector (air, boat, train, bus, etc.);
Entertainment sector (Gambling, disco, etc.);
Information sector (tourism information network);
Supplementary services, facilities and service infrastructure


Last Updated: 02 March 2021
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