Tourism & Travel: Eco Tourism

By John Cockayne | The Business of Golf Magazine

Eco-Tourism, Sustainable Toursim & Responsible Travel

The terms ‘Eco Tourism’, ‘Responsible Tourism’ and ‘Sustainable Tourism’ have been in circulation for some years, but their prevelance, in terms of day-to-day discourse, has increased significantly in the past 5 years, as the pressure of the environmental issues we face globally has increased. Are they birds of a feather to be seen ‘together’, or do they cover different areas of tourism?

The Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) offers the following summary:


A niche segment of tourism in travel areas

Sustainable Tourism

Does not refer to a specific type of tourism, rather it is an aspiration for the impacts of all forms of tourism to be sustainable for generations to come.

Responsible Travel

This is a term referring to the behavior and style of individual travelers, and aligns with making a positive impact to the destination rather than any negative ones. With reference to the first term, The International Eco Tourism Society (TIES), which is one of the oldest independent associationsin existence, offers the following expanded definition:

“…responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretzition and education”
TIES believes that eco-tourism is about uniting conservation, communities, and sustainable travel, which means that those who implement, participate in and market eco-tourism activities should adopt the following eco-tourism principles:

  • Minimise physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.
  • Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect
  • Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.
  • Provide direct financial benefit.; for conservarion.
  • Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.
  • Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.
  • Design. construct and operate low-impact facilities.
  • Recognise the rights and spiritual beliefs of the indigenous people in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.
    GSTC, offers the following-outline on ‘sustainable tourism’ and its own criteria for what qualifies as sustainable tourism:

The GSTC Criteria serve as the global Standards for sustainability in travel and tourism. The Criteria are used for education and awareness-raising. They’re used for policy-making. measurement and evaluation reasons and as a basis for certification.

They arc the result of a worldwide effort to develop a common language about sustainability in tourism. They arc categorized in four pillars: (A) Sustainable management; (B) Socioeconomic impacts; (C) Cultural impacts; (D) Environmental impacts.

These standards were built on decades of prior work from industry experts around the globe. During the process of development, they were widely consulted in both developed and developing countries. They reflect our goal in attaining a global consensus on sustainable tourism.

The process of developing the Criteria was (1igned to adhere to the standards-setting code of the TSEAL Alliance. The ‘SEAL Alliance is the international body providing guidance for the management of sustainability standards in all seems. That code is informed by relevant ISO standards.

Finally. the GSTC Criteria are the starting goals that businesses, governments, and destinations should achieve. Tourism destinations each have their own culture, environment, customs, and laws. Therefore. the Criteria are designed to be adapted to local conditions and supplemented by additional criteria for the specific location and activity.

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