Introduction to the International Year of Sustainable Tourism and Development

Few entities in the universe have perpetual growth. Ecology and economics are not immune to destruction and depression. The beauty of sustainable tourism and development is that humans make the choice to not plunge into a dystopian future and instead take logical and ethical steps to balance highs and lows in the future.

In 2015 the blogosphere, including myself, and other media embraced the educational campaign of the United Nations International Year of Soil. Maybe in 2016, we didn’t fully appreciate the Year of Pulses, the legumes. However, 2017 is the Year of Sustainable Tourism and Development, and I can certainly participate in this topic throughout the year.

When I first learned about sustainability initiatives, I thought it was ideal: it’s environmentally conscious, yet common sense enough to lure people that tend to view environmentalism as extreme and dreamy. Sustainability accounts for human-based interests and settles the ecology versus economy war. The true challenge, I’d imagine, is encouraging people to forgo immediate benefits and see the long-term benefits and the larger picture.

Or just bribe companies with subsidies. For some reason, government incentives tend to be the biggest drivers. But all I have is this blog and the resources that come through my computer and local library, so I’ll stick with the educational approach.

This year isn’t about sustainability in general but tourism and development. By most definitions, including the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) affiliated with the United Nations, sustainable tourism and development are three-fold: environment stewardship, respect of cultural heritage, and long term economic prowess that gives back to the environment, community, and a meaningful experience to the tourist.

Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities.

as the UNWTO puts it, and then as Wikipedia quoted from Jaime Lisse’s USAToday article, which is worth a read,

Sustainable tourism is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make only a positive impact on the environment, society and economy.

As someone who drives North America once every few years (these days) and almost exclusively visits places for quiet hiking or institutions responsible for natural or historical education, I imagine sustainable tourism is in line with my world view and lifestyle. However, only research will prove if I’m overgeneralizing and overlooking finer key details or if I’m an effective participant.

The initiative uses #iy2017 for social media.

What kind of tourist are you? Can you refine your experience to be more sustainable?

Useful link for current and past International Years.


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