Sustainable Tourism

In reports of the United Nations states that “the Mediterranean is in grave danger of losing the main assets which make it so unique, especially because of tourism developments” (Mediterranean strategy for sustainable development, UNEP 2008). Commonly recognizable are the fully build Spanish Costa’s where one of the main tourist attractions, the beautiful coast landscape, is consumed by tourism. However there are still places were a lot of natural and cultural treasures are well preserved. Unfortunately they are affected by continuous tourism developments as well. Therefore the Mediterranean is on a crucial turning point in history. If tourism development continues in an unsustainable way, the treasures of the Mediterranean are disappearing. Sustainable tourism development offers the opportunity to protect the valuable landscape resources and use them to promote new kinds of tourism. There are many reports written about sustainable tourism, but what is lacking is a clear method about the implementation of the theory into practical plans for the future.Since the eighties a new category of tourism appeared: post-Fordist tourism. Post-Fordist tourism is based on small scale, individual tourism, with local experiences on environmental friendly destinations. This tourism product is more diverse than sun, sea, and sand and consist for example nature, culture, and adventurous tourism. An important segment of post-Fordist tourism is sustainable tourism. Sustainable tourism can be described as “the suitable balance between the environment, the economic and socio-cultural aspects., which is established to guarantee its long term sustainability” (UNEP and WTO 2005). Sustainable tourism is often considered as the way to solve the problems caused by Fordist tourism.

To achieve sustainability in tourism all kind of literature and policy documents proposing ‘actions’ to make tourism more sustainable. Solutions are mainly found in planning approaches (such as the ICZM and the EIA), impact-based methods (tourism carrying capacity and the ecological footprint), and policy documents. One of the most commonly used and clear documents is the guide for policy-makers for making tourism more sustainable of the United Nations Environmental Programme in collaboration with the World Tourism Organisation (see figure below). These solutions are helpful, but they are lacking clear spatial tools to make tourism sustainable. On the other hand ad-hoc, technical solutions are proposed for achieving sustainability in tourism. Between the theoretical solutions and the technical solutions there is a gap: the lack of spatial applications. We developed a method which can provide spatial applications for sustainable tourism landscapes which is grounded by extensive theoretical research about the landscape in relation to sustainable tourism.

12 aims for sustainable tourism of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the World Tourism Organisation (WTO)