7 | Towards Sustainability

Bagno Giulia sustainable coastal resort in Italy

How does investing in the environment change the dynamics of coastal tourism?

Photo: Bagno Giulia 85. The first beach resort in the mediterranean to reduce its negative impact on the environment by investing in solar thermal panels, geothermal heat pumps, a waste water recycling system for showers, and easily accessible waste recycling points. Reported results include greater guest satisfaction and many positives for the environment and for business.

- 1 of 6 -

What is Sustainable Development?

"... development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Sustainable development involves environmental, economic, and social aspects.

For a particular process to be sustainable, it should not cause irreversible change to the environment, should be economically viable, and should benefit society.

Source: Sustainability Definitions

What is Sustainable Tourism?

Sustainabile tourism diagram

Sustainable tourism development is a continuous process and consists of developing alternative forms of tourism as well as greening the existing tourism industry.'

Source: Article: The Sustainability of Coastal Tourism
Image credit: www.businessworld.in

- 2 of 6 -

Diverting Some of the Profits from Tourism to Care of the Environment

Causal loop diagram: Diverting some profits to invest in the Environment

What happens to the system when some of the profits from tourism are diverted into investing in the environment? This means that the goal of the system is no longer making maximum profit at any cost.

There are two effects - see the dashed green arrows in the diagram:

  • A direct increase in environmental quality.
  • Reducing the income to hotels slows down the increase in attractiveness, which slows down the growth rate of tourists. This decreases the pressure on the environmental quality.

In Systems Thinking terms, an existing positive feedback loop is weakened. The structure of the system has changed. The system then has a chance to change from a boom-bust pattern to a sustainable one.

Changing the goal of a system is often a key leverage point

- 3 of 6 -

Explore for yourself

Q: Can you change the three variables to make the system sustainable?

HINT: The system becomes sustainable if the quality of the environment is maintained at an acceptable level (however we want to define this), while the number of tourists can be prevented from peaking and then collapsing.


Hotel Investment Rate

Investment in the Environment

Show answer »
- 4 of 6 -

Slowing things down

Reducing the tourist growth rate, and the rate of investing in more hotels, reduces the pressure on the system. It slows down the exponential growth and gives the renewable resource - upon which this type of tourism depends - time to regenerate itself. And investing in the environment can help speed up that regeneration.

Herman Daly's Rules for a Sustainable Society

  • Renewable resources must be used no faster than the rate at which they regenerate.
  • Nonrenewable resources - e.g. minerals, fossil fuels - must be used no faster than renewable substitutes for them can be put into place.
  • Pollution and wastes must be emitted no faster than natural systems can absorb them, recycle them, or render them harmless.
Herman Daly

According to Daly, economic growth cannot be maintained forever because the planet and its resources have finite physical dimensions and capacity.

Source: Growth / No Growth Dilemma

- 5 of 6 -

Question 13:
What changes move coastal tourism towards sustainability?

Check all that apply:

Divert some profits from tourism into the care of the environment
Increase advertising
Deliberately limit the level of advertising
Change the overall goal to limited, controlled growth
Build more hotels
Careful monitoring and management of the coastal resort

- 6 of 6 -