Over the past half century tourism has developed into a key driver of socio-economic progress through the creation of jobs and enterprises, infrastructure development and the export revenues earned, both for advanced and emerging economies.
According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) tourism sector employs, directly or
indirectly, more than 250 million people, the total annual sales exceeds 510
million dollars, about 10% of the World
gross domestic product.
The flow of travel, investments and economic benefits of tourism is very unbalanced.
Over 80% of leisure
travellers resides in the twenty richest countries of the world, the same
countries attract 70% of tourists, also concentrating the 72% of total
In such a context, tourism in the involved countries may offer some benefits by generating income and employment in visited countries , especially relevant for emerging and developing areas, allowing tourists to enter into relations with sometimes very different peoples and cultures.
On the one hand some contradictory element also arises: by these contacts visited countries and peoples may see transformed their deepest identity, culture and habits.
On the other hand, sometimes tourists are more likely to look for the confirmation of mental representations of visited countries as they have seen on travel brochures before departure: although they sleep, eat and move around without any real contact with local environment(s).
There is therefore the need to think of innovative and sustainable ways to promote tourism, improving resources and capacity without compromising the environmental, cultural and social context of visited sites. Enhancing, at the same time, a sustainable concept of living also by valorising environmental efficiency of traditional buildings and preserving the magnificent and sometimes underestimated cultural heritage. Actually trying to valorise and protect these resources for future generations , trusting on the capacity of tourism to preserve and valorise the essence of the past without compromising the future.
Responsible tourism is one of possible alternatives: it aims at drawing on economic equity, tolerance, respect, knowledge, meeting. A way of fostering human relations and understanding of local cultures and populations as an opportunity for personal growth and enrichment, and a valid approach to root local development for people and countries involved
Mass tourism is also –slightly- turning towards a greener and sustainable approach. Nevertheless it exports most of its incomes. Differently RT is a way to promote cooperate and boost local economies of countries of destination aiming at leaving most of the profits to local populations.
Local communities and partner organizations are therefore essential actors for sustainable tourism representing the most effective channels of exchange and cooperation.
The University of Trento is launching the International Workshop on Sustainable Tourism IWST2012
- Understanding Tourism: Basic Glossary
- Beijing Declaration on Sustainable Development
- Tourism for growth and development Rio + 20
for more details please visit the IWST website