How global tourism can be more sustainable

Tourism

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sérgio Guerreiro, Senior Director for Knowledge Management & Innovation, Turismo de Portugal


One of the world’s biggest economic activities, tourism drives wealth, employment, and regional development.

In 2018, international tourist arrivals reached 1.4 billion, while total export earnings from international tourism reached USD 1.7 trillion, or almost USD 5 billion per day on average, according to the latest data from the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Despite these results, the long-term sustainability of the industry faces important challenges in terms of making the growth model compatible with the quality of life of local communities, especially in cities or mature destinations.

A recent UNWTO report on overtourism in cities recognized the need for the sector to “ensure sustainable policies and practices that minimize adverse effects of tourism on the use of natural resources, infrastructure, mobility and congestion, as well as its socio-cultural impact.”

Consequently, the tourism policy paradigm should shift from a growth-oriented model to an approach focused on the quality of this growth and its compatibility with the quality of life of residents.

A new generation of tourism strategies

In recent decades, tourism policies have focused on attracting tourists and maximizing the positive impacts of tourism in terms of employment and income, with emphasis on marketing and tourism promotion.

Now, “destination management” has emerged as a policy topic and, more importantly, governments and destination-management organizations are actively engaging in the practice.

An OECD report underlines how sustained development of the sector depends on the ability of destinations to promote adaptations to economic, social, political, and environmental trends, highlighting the emergence of integrated policies—with the participation of the private sector and local communities—in order to promote more inclusive growth.

In Portugal, tourism has very positively contributed to the Portuguese economy, generating higher revenues and employment.

In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of this positive contribution, two years ago the Portuguese government launched Tourism Strategy 2027, which defines the vision for the Portuguese tourism industry for the next decade: “To affirm tourism as a hub for economic, social and environmental development throughout the territory, positioning Portugal as one of the most competitive and sustainable tourism destinations in the world.”

Developed in an open process with many participants, Tourism Strategy 2027 proposes an ambitious agenda, with the principles of sustainable tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals as its DNA. The strategy sets objectives for each of the three pillars of sustainable development: economic goals cover specific growth targets in terms of overnight stays and tourism receipts; social goals include seasonality, workforce-skills improvement, and residents’ satisfaction; and environmental goals are related to best practices in energy, water, and waste management.

Underlying this vision is the principle that tourism should be a vehicle for promoting the country’s balanced development, deconcentrating tourist demand to less-developed regions throughout the year and adding value to local communities.

At the same time, the strategy aims to position Portugal as a leader in tourism of the future: a sustainable destination with a cohesive territory; an innovative and competitive country that values work and talent; an inclusive, open, creative country to visit, to invest in, to study in and live in.

New tools for monitoring (new) strategies

Making tourism more sustainable is a continuous process of making optimal use of environmental resources, respecting host communities, and ensuring viable, long-term economic operations, providing fairly distributed benefits among tourism stakeholders. This is a complex activity, with a number of economic, environmental, social, and political challenges, which require adequate management and evidence-based public policies.

And it’s far from easy to monitor the impacts of tourism. Efforts by international organizations such as UNWTO, OECD, and Eurostat have led to significant progress, including the establishment of international standards and tools such as the Tourism Satellite Account, which helps to understand the growing economic importance of tourism.

However, monitoring efforts have focused mainly on economic aspects, leaving behind the social and environmental impacts that, as we have seen, play a key role in the generation of sustainability-oriented tourism policies.

UNWTO’s initiative Towards a Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism (MST) will be an important tool to provide integrated information on sustainable tourism and to help destinations understand their social and environmental impacts.

Nevertheless, tourist destinations are already confronted with the need to develop public policies to promote sustainability, which requires new approaches in terms of generating data and guiding decision-making processes.

In the case of Portugal, the implementation of Tourism Strategy 2027 required the development of a sustainable tourism indicators system, enabling tourism policy evaluation and providing the private sector with instruments for making strategic decisions.

 

Those 34 indicators followed recommendations from international organizations like UNWTO and Eurostat and cover economic, environmental, and social pillars, using existing and comparable data sources. These indicators are available to relevant tourism stakeholders through TravelBI, a free and open data platform provided by Turismo de Portugal.

Finally, the new generation of tourism strategies requires a completely new approach in terms of data to enable real-time decision-making, especially of crisis management operational decisions, and broaden the dimensions of destination management. Ultimately, technology, and data generated by the rise of the digital economy, can make destination management more efficient and improve tourism’s sustainability.

Global tourism experienced steady growth for more than six decades, benefiting from the rise of technological advances that have made travel easier and cheaper. Now, it is time to use technology as a tool for managing tourist flows and improving the experience of both visitors and residents.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This one small change could transform education for millions

General Elections in Spain: Twitter organises the first digital debate to empower young people.

How quantum computing could beat climate change

UN ‘comes together in sadness and solidarity’ to honour staff who died on board Ethiopian Airlines flight

How transparency can help the global economy to grow

Human rights experts call for ‘paradigm shift’ on arbitrary detention in Qatar

Draghi reveals how failing banks will be dealt, may cut interest rates soon

Climate change is a disruptor. Here’s how to harness it for innovation

Energy: EU priority projects should be aligned with 2050 climate objectives

Somalis ‘will not be deterred’ by Friday’s terror attacks – UN chief

European Agenda on Migration: Still fragile situation gives no cause for complacency

Trailing the US-EU economic confrontation

The EU Spring Summit set to challenge austerity

Portraits show ‘dignity and humanity’ of Holocaust survivors, 75 years after Auschwitz liberation

UN chief urges ‘active, substantive and meaningful participation’ on International Day of Democracy

What can stop the ‘too big to fail’ bankers from terrorising the world?

3 things you need to know about securing a blockchain

The EU lets the bankers go on rigging the benchmarks

Dozens killed and injured by new airstrikes in western Yemen, UN coordinator condemns ‘outrageous’ toll

Alarm over violent attacks on lawmakers, opposition in Malawi, ahead of elections

“Only through energy policy we can trigger competitiveness”. The Sting live from #EBS2015: Energy Union – When will it happen?

These countries are driving global demand for coal

Disillusioned young people – France thinks it has a solution

DR Congo: Restore internet services as ‘a matter of urgency’, urges UN expert

4 ways sporting events are becoming more sustainable

How to talk to people about mental health – and support one another

There’s a global learning crisis and it’s leaving millions without basic skills

COP22 addresses a strong global pledge to effectively implement the Paris Agreement

Technology is delivering better access to financial services. Here’s how

Why good cybersecurity in business is everyone’s responsibility

More children killed by unsafe water, than bullets, says UNICEF chief

We have to learn to trust Artificial Intelligence. Here’s how

Remarks by High Representative/ Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the press conference following the EU-China Strategic Dialogue

Arrest of three Libyans wanted for grave crimes ‘would send strong and necessary message’ to victims, urges top Prosecutor

UN Envoy urges Burundi leaders to ‘seize opportunities for national unity and peace’

Mediterranean migrant drownings should spur greater action by European countries, urge UN agencies

“A sustainable economy, low-carbon, resource-efficient, resilient and more competitive on the global stage”, EU Commissioner Vella in a Sting Exclusive

Courage of terrorism survivors underlines ‘urgency’ of UN Investigative Team’s work in Iraq

Antibiotics are contaminating the world’s rivers

Main results of European Council of 18/10/2018

New UN report launched to help ratchet up action to combat climate crisis

Is there a drug for every disease?

‘Open, cordial, and frank discussions’ held over future Somalia-UN relationship

OECD presents analysis showing significant impact of proposed international tax reforms

These countries spend the most on education

5 reasons to be more cheerful about the future of the oceans

Measles in Europe: infection rates highest in a decade, says UN health agency

To retire at 65, American millennials need to save almost half their paycheck

A comprehensive strategy for Eurozone’s long term growth gains momentum

Why transparency in drug pricing is more complicated than it seems

Climate Change: A Healthcare Emergency

Europe must remember its past to build its future

Saudi Arabia, China, among 14 nations under UN human rights spotlight: what you need to know

Mainland Europe adopts Germanic cartel business patterns

Monday’s Daily Brief: Independent UN experts on Myanmar, UN chief renounces attacks in US, Libyan airport violence, UN spokesperson on Kashmir, and FAO and Italy on development

7 amazing ways artificial intelligence is used in healthcare

Sri Lanka PM: This is how I will make my country rich by 2025

Italy’s revised budget remains roughly unchanged waiting for Europe’s fury

This is how we make cancer care sustainable and available for all

6 innovative technologies about to transform our infrastructure

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s