The importance of sustainable tourism is not a brand new notion. The importance of maintaining ecological balance and environmental conservation is a fairly universal concept having an enriched past.
Environment specialists have been emphasizing the need to conserve nature and advocating travel practices that will not leave any harmful footprint on Mother Nature disrupting its harmony and equilibrium.
Tourism has been identified as one of the prime sectors in international travels significantly contributing to the revenue earnings of many developing countries. To narrate the history of sustainable tourism, the outcome of the Rio +20 Summit held in 2012 deserve special mention. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development pledged in encouraging promoting sustainable tourism developing other niche segments of cultural and eco-tourism.
History of sustainable tourism:
There is certainly a trend of tourists following environment-friendly practices contributing to nature’s conservation with devotion and enthusiasm. In the olden days, travel from one country to another across the borders were tedious, dangerous with full of uncertainties. Religious pilgrimage, trade and conquest of the enemy territory were the driving factors. Gradually, with the passage of time there had been development in roads, waterways and other transportation infrastructure.
Railways invaded the transportation scene and airway travels made it possible to reach places faster. Buses ran over the bridges built across rivers and water bodies, which were once crossed on ferries.
People stopped travelling on foot and movement from one place to another became faster, easier and comfortable. The concept of touring replaced mere travelling and sea sides and hill sides became hot favorite destinations for tourist visit. The early records of tourism date back to the eighteenth century.
Rapid industrialization brought money to the hands of people encouraging them to undertake voyages across long distances with a warning signal beeping in the back of their minds that industrial boom can devastate nature’s balance.
Impact of war:
The impact of World War II had been a landmark for sustainable tourism with the necessity to rebuild the infrastructure and ravaged land forms, buildings and monuments cleansing the environment of the venom that had been spewed by evil effects of war harming the environment beyond repair.
The early Roman civilization understood the need for sustaining their art, culture, cuisine and architecture and exchanged these with other neighboring countries like Egypt by visiting and hosting visits from offshore with a view to a cultural swap so that both the civilizations and their wonders would live on for a span of eternity.
Evolution of sustainable tourism:
The rapid roar of industrialization has further led to the need for sustainable tourism. England was quick to realize it. If the process of industrialization ran unchecked, it could someday wipe out the physical surroundings. As a matter of consequence, the population would be destined for poor living standards.
Way back in 1960’s, it was strongly felt that with the boom of progress, the tourist consumers and large mass of population that migrated from one place to the other would certainly have a detrimental impact on the environmental and social landscape.
More migration would mean the wheels of the modes of transport would roll more vigorously and in greater volume. This would again mean pumping more carbon and poisonous fumes into the air. More garbage and non recyclable wastes would be generated choking the ecological serenity.
This deteriorating state of affairs needs to be checked and the environment should be made more sustainable, and there is an element of responsibility on the part of the tourists and other stake holders to help promote environmental sustenance.
Down the ages, the idea gradually spread through forums, books, reports, conferences and the media and began to be known by other names like green and ecotourism. From the early roots of rudimentary concept on sustainable tourism, today it has been proliferated into a commanding social and environmental claim to ensure a long lasting future for human civilization.
Gradually over time, tourists started to take cautious steps while on tour and tried to make it a point his presence doesn’t erode the social, cultural and the environmental vibes of the destination he sets his foot on.
A number of thought provoking works were published trying to establish a relationship between the increased growth of consumer society, burning up of resources and the ensuing catastrophic upshots. Back in 1965, a book named ‘Fourth wave-the challenges of leisure’ had been written by Michael Dowers throwing light upon the phenomena of tourism and its disastrous impacts on civilization. Then again in 1973 another thought provoking work called ‘Tourism-a blessing or blight’ written by Young was on similar destructive consequences of irresponsible tourism.
Challenges in sustainable tourism:
Modernization of human lifestyle had given rise to certain adverse conditions, and it is the human beings who are right on the job of rectification that will see better conditions for sustenance in the future. The history of sustainable tourism is set to add more interesting features. But the industry needs to tackle the following key challenges as well:
- Spreading of over tourism from the current 50 cities to nearly 100.
- The growth of cheap and budget travel options pose some serious sustainability problems in many destinations. Too much of waste generation and resource utilization are likely to hit the local population.
- Pollution created by plastic and other non-biodegradable wastes continues to be a major threat to sustainability in many exotic locations of developing countries.