Sustainable Tourism

What is sustainable tourism and what is its aim?


As early as 1987 we saw the very first definition of sustainable tourism:

“[tourism] that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Brundtland Report. 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development.

Essentially, sustainable tourism aims to not only reduce our completely eradicate the negative impact of tourism, but to develop its positive impact on an environmental, social, and economic level.


Sustainable versus conventional tourism: what’s the difference?

Until that moment, tourism had focused solely on attracting more tourists and increasing revenues. Sadly, many factors were not taken into account, such as pressure on the environment, water and energy consumption, seasonality, pollution, gentrification, among others.

Disorderly and inefficient systems that took complete advantage of natural and human resources. Local populations would not intervene; touristic activities and initiatives were largely organized by foreign companies, meaning locals would rarely see appropriate remuneration for their efforts.


What are the benefits of sustainable tourism?

The benefits of sustainable tourism are innumerable, not only for helping the industry continue to grow but also for the impact it has on many different fields.

Economic benefits:

Job creation. Income generation in the local economy. Improved infrastructure, quality of life, and poverty reduction.

Environmental Benefits:

Conserving biodiversity and natural resources, favoring balanced development. A healthy environment contributes to more competitive tourism.

Social Benefits:

Favoring the integration of local populations. Active participation between local people and visitors. This creates stronger ties with local communities and improves local satisfaction with tourism.

“Sustainability must stop being a niche in tourism and become the new norm for every part of our sector” 

Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary-General

Why is sustainable tourism difficult?

Sustainable tourism requires effort. A commitment from each organization and its management to establish strategies with long-term results.

We do not always have the necessary tools to quantify where and how we are having a negative impact. Organizations such as the UNWTO can help us make decisions, and conscious measurement and benchmarking will help us to create improvements.

What are the main types of sustainable tourism?

The diversity of the offer today is wide and evolving:


The Aigüestortes Natural Park (Source: Jan Padilla on Unsplash)
The Natural Park of Aigüestortes, Lleida, Spain (Source: Jan Padilla on Unsplash)

Tourist activities without altering the natural areas where it takes place. The purpose of ecotourism is to enjoy, appreciate and study natural attractions.

The perfect example is walking through The Natural Park of Aigüestortes (Lleida, Spain) guided by a local expert and appreciating its diversity. This is a great example of minimal impact on the environment.

Green Tourism

Torre del Marqués Hotel
Torre del Marqués Hotel (source: Torre del Marqués Hotel)

Green tourism promotes destinations and activities that are not overcrowded. Rural initiatives that respects the environment, and propose healthy activities.

Take a look at the green and sustainable Hotel Torre del Marqués (Matarraña, Teruel, Spain). It has facilities designed for a more optimal use of resources. It uses renewable energies and techniques, as well as construction materials that help thermal insulation.

To find out more go to this educational tour provider on the following link