In a month typically dedicated to the most prolonged vacation period of the year, we consider it essential that, before leaving, you discover more about what sustainable tourism is, its importance and good practices, which we can already apply.
From an economic and social point of view, tourism’s positive impact is evident, but it has also represented a problem regarding the environment and climate. According to Francisco Ferreira from the environmental association Zero, tourism “can and must be part of a sustainable development that encompasses the environmental, economic and social aspects”. Sustainability has become, today, one of the main allies of tourism. Because only in this way will the sector continue to meet the high expectations of consumers, who are increasingly aware and demanding concerning this issue.
Sustainable tourism, which is focused on the long-term tourism industry, promotes meeting the needs of the present without compromising those of future generations. According to the World Tourism Organization, “sustainable tourism must make good use of environmental resources, respect the socio-cultural authenticity of communities and ensure that economic activities are viable in the long term. It also requires the informed participation of stakeholders, constant monitoring of its impacts, maintaining a high level of tourist satisfaction”.
This practice considers the needs of travellers, host communities, local businesses and nature and is a shared responsibility of political leaders, tourism companies and all stakeholders.
It is worth noting that sustainable tourism is different from responsible tourism. Although they are closely intertwined, the second concept refers to the concern of travellers regarding the way they interact with destinations, with the main focus being people.
Sustainable tourism is one of the trends that already marks the sector, either by tourist agents or by travellers, especially in this post-COVID-19 recovery. In this sense, it is crucial to understand that a trip can generate many benefits for the receiving place but also consequences such as excessive use of resources, emission of polluting gases, displacement of wildlife and damage to the local culture. So, to mitigate these effects, we can, on the next trip we make, consider some sustainable tourism actions which go far beyond the environment:
In 2019, the Azores archipelago became the first archipelago in the world to achieve international certification as a sustainable destination, with the Silver degree awarded by EarthCheck. With this distinction, the commitment assumed to ensure that the development of the destination is supported by the Sustainable Development Goals in the context of the 2030 Agenda, stimulating sustainable tourism among partners in the public and private sectors.