What is Sustainable Tourism?

While tourism brings employment and increased standards of living, its success itself can threaten its own economic survival.
Rapid, uncontrolled development can lead to decline in the Quality of the Environment, reduction in Attractiveness, and eventually loss of business, and the tourist destination can become unsustainable.

Butler proposed that most tourist resorts go through six stages.

  • EXPLORATION The destination is 'discovered' by people looking for something different or special.There is no local tourism industry.
  • INVOLVEMENT Local people start to cater for visitors with accommodation, food, etc.
  • DEVELOPMENT Big companies invest in big hotels and sell package holiday. Big increase in jobs and local services industry.
  • CONSOLIDATION The local economy is dominated by tourism. Traditional industries like farming and fishing decline. Buildings age and are less appealing.
  • STAGNATION A victim of its own success and facing competition from other resorts, the resort can stop growing. Tourism declines, threatening local jobs.
  • DECLINE OR REJUVENATION Gradual decline or rejuvenation through public or private investment to 're-invent' the destination.


Impacts of Tourism

Originally, tourists were attracted to coastal destinations by the sea, the sun and the beautiful landscape. But coastal mass development ended up heavily impacting the very landscape and environment which attracted tourists in the first place. Overall, the current 3S mass tourism model is increasingly problematic and unsustainable.

Environmental and social impacts not only threaten the attractiveness of tourist destinations, but the overall economic sustainability of the sector: higher numbers of tourists on shorter holidays, who spend less locally, do not make up for costs associated with high congestion and coastal development.

Coastal tourism develops at the interface between land and sea: by altering the coast, it does not only degrade the coastal landscape, but it also alters marine ecosystems and processes. In turn, these alterations often have impacts on the coast and on the tourism activities, in a vicious circle.

Sustainable Tourism

is therefore an industry which attempts to make a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate income, employment, and the conservation of local ecosystems. It is responsible tourism that is both ecologically and culturally sensitive. Thus, Sustainable tourism activities have minimal impact on the environment and culture of the host community.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Urges Sustainable Practices for a Mediterranean Sea of the Future

The recommendations include Reducing the Footprint of Mass Tourism and pursuing more sustainable tourism models

Dive Even Deeper!

We have created some interactive online models for you to play with and hopefully learn a bit more about how these Systems work

Click or Tap on the images to try out the system models

A Stable Environment

The natural environment is continuously renewing itself, thereby staying in balance. If something happens to affect this balance, gradually the environment can degrade.

Introducing Tourists

Tourism will always have environmental impacts. The question is can they be minimised so that the environment can cope? Explore the effect of advertising on environmental quality.

Towards Sustainable Tourism

Too-rapid development can quickly overwhelm the environment's ability to cope, leading to collapse of tourism, environment and the local economy. Explore how coastal tourism can be managed instead for sustainability.