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Sustainable Tourism Development

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Tourism refers to the activities of people travelling to various places within or outside their countries for a short time to accomplish purposes, such as business, leisure activities, among other purposes (Franklin, 2003). Therefore, tourism can be domestic or international based on whether tourists cross international boundaries or not. Tourism has been among the fastest growing social industries in the world, and it generates substantial income for the countries that support tourist activities (Robinson, 2009). However, in some cases, tourism can lead to problems, such as economic dependence, ecological degradation, social dislocation, and erosion of cultural heritage. Sustainable tourism refers to the tourism that helps generate employment for the local people while minimizing the impacts of tourist activities on local culture and physical environment (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). Common tourism practices include hunting, fishing, boating, skiing, ice skating, biking, among other practices. This paper will consider the principles of sustainable tourism development, major impacts of tourism, and enhancement of social and environmental outcomes of tourism development without leading to a decrease in economic outcomes.

Principles of Sustainable Tourism Development

Hosting communities and tourists will benefit from tourism when tourism activities are sustainable (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). Sustainable tourism development will be possible through a number of principles. Such principles ensure that both tourists and the hosting communities benefit from tourism practices. It is necessary to describe the principles of sustainable tourism development.

Tourism attraction sites should be different from other competing sites for tourism to be sustainable and successful (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). Achievement of this principle of uniqueness of tourism attraction sites will take place by basing marketing and development on the strengths and attributes of the sites. Sustainable tourism practices should reflect the community values of the hosting places. Reflection of the community values is a significant sustainability principle because it allows for the representation of the present, past, and the future ambitions of the destination communities in a dynamic manner rather than imposing development or preserving the past. Achievement of authenticity is another principle of sustainable tourism development (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). This principle ensures that the tourist attraction sites have genuine relevance to the industry, history, natural resources, culture, and lifestyle of the host community. Another principle of sustainable tourism is that tourism should build the local capacity. Tourism businesses should take place within the communities that host tourism to collaborate with various businesses and help build the local capacity. Respecting the cultural and natural values of the host communities is a significant principle of sustainable tourism, which calls for the conservation of the local communities’ values (Rodgers, 2001). Tourism practices should add value to the existing attributes to achieve rich tourism experiences and diversify the economy of the local community. This includes sales outlets, accommodation, and conferencing facilities in collaboration with other established industries. Tourism destination places should have unfamiliar features to enhance the experience of tourists.

The principles of sustainable tourism minimize the negative impact of tourist activities but maximize the positive outcomes to both the host communities and tourists (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). Therefore, the host communities and tourists should observe the principles of sustainable tourism for the sustainable tourism development.

Impacts of Tourism

Tourism affects the destination communities in a number of ways, which may be positive or negative. Sustainable tourism development occurs when tourism does not impact on the host communities negatively (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). The impacts of tourism on the local communities may be economic, social, or environmental. Principles of sustainable tourism development ensure that tourist activities influence the hosting communities positively. However, some tourist activities may deviate from the principles of sustainable tourism thereby affecting the host communities negatively.

Economically, tourist activities contribute to the destination’s profits, tax revenues, sales, jobs and income (Robinson, 2009). Some tourism sectors, including lodging, transportation, dining, retail trade, and amusements, are primary sectors and benefit directly from tourism. For instance, many tourists staying for many days in a hotel would increase sales within the sector of hospitality and catering directly. Other sectors like agriculture benefit from the secondary effects of tourism (Rodgers, 2001). Tourism is an industry that is income and labour intensive. This industry buys services and commodities from other sectors in the destination community and pays its employees attractive salaries and wages. Retail and housing prices of the host communities may increase because of tourism. The quantity and quality of services and goods may change significantly as a result of tourism (Hall & Lew, 2009). Tourism may result in a wider variety of services and goods available in the destination area to favour tourists. The destination areas may experience improved infrastructural facilities, such as transport and technology, which will influence the economy of the areas positively (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). Therefore, tourism can impact the economy of the destination areas positively or negatively.

Tourism impacts on the destination communities socially because of the interaction between tourists and the local people. Tourism can lead to international amity, understanding, and peace (Hall & Lew, 2009). It can also lead to the destruction and corruption of the indigenous cultures, as well as assault people’s authenticity, privacy, and dignity. Tourism leads to the development of friendships between the people at the hosting communities and tourists (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). This will happen as people develop positive attitudes toward each other. The self-esteem of tourists and hosts will increase a result of tourism. Tourism reduces stereotypes and negative perceptions between the tourists and hosts because it allows people to interact (Leslie, 2012). People will learn each other’s customs and culture due to continued interaction. However, tourism may lead to erosion of cultural values because of the interaction between people from different cultural backgrounds. Therefore, tourism can have both positive and negative social impacts on the host communities.

Tourism can lead to environmental impacts on the destination countries because of various tourist activities (Robinson, 2009). Congestion of vehicles in the resort areas can cause air pollution because of large amounts of exhaust fumes. The accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide, will contribute to global warming (Leslie, 2012). Clearing of vegetation cover will take place to give room for the construction of parking lots, guest houses, and restaurants (Woodside, 2008). The tourist facilities, such as guest houses and restaurants, release waste products, which can pollute water bodies if they do not undergo adequate treatment.  Water pollution can cause diseases, as well as poison aquatic organisms, such as fish. On the other hand, tourism can lead to beautification of the destination, as well as improvement of transport infrastructure (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002).

Sustaining Tourism Development

Sustaining tourism development refers to enhancement of social and environmental outcomes of tourism development without leading to a decrease in economic outcomes (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). Increase in economic outcomes is among the main goals of tourism activities in the destination countries. A positive and successful development of the tourism sector will be possible following the enhancement of social outcomes, environmental outcomes, and economic outcomes. Tourism planners should ensure that tourism does not have negative impacts on the host communities socially, environmentally, and economically (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). Reduction of social and environmental negative impacts of tourism will serve as the basis for the increase in the economic outcome within the host communities.

Enhancement of environmental outcomes will involve the control of negative impacts of tourism, as well as promotion of the environmental benefits of tourism (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). The most common negative impact of tourism on the hosting places includes air and water pollution. Tourism planners should work together with tourism business to enhance the use of environmentally modes of transport, such as foot, bicycles, train, and buses within the tourist hosting places (Robinson, 2009). This will avoid congestion of vehicles within the tourist destinations thereby reduce air pollution because of exhaust fumes. Adequate treatment of sewage and other waste products from tourist guest houses and other tourist facilities will avoid contamination of water bodies. Control and reduction of water and air pollution will enhance environmental outcomes of tourism without reducing the number of tourists visiting tourist attraction destinations. Reduction of the number of vehicles within the tourist attraction will also encourage the conservation of plants and animals (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). This is because no more trees that will undergo deforestation to create room for the expansion of parking lots. The economic outcome will continue to increase as the attractive environmental features, such as conserved forests and marine life, will attract many tourists from various countries.

Tourism planners can also enhance social outcomes of tourism without decreasing economic outcomes in the destination (Hall & Lew, 2009). This will involve a reduction of the social impacts of tourism including erosion of cultural values of the destination countries. Residents of the tourist attraction sites should get information about the foreign countries without moving out of their homes. Tourism planners should encourage the local people to conserve their modes of dressing (Robinson, 2009). Some modes of dressing among the local people may attract tourists, who will bring a substantial amount of money for increased economic output. Tourist planners should ensure that hosts welcome and socialize with tourists warmly (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). This will be possible by updating employees on the new ways of socializing with tourists. Many tourists continue visiting the hosting countries when they experience pleasing hospitality from the hosts. The local communities will benefit through the tourism, especially in the improvement and development of the social infrastructural facilities, such as schools, health centres, libraries, Cyber Cafés, amphitheatre, among others (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). Therefore, reduction of negative social impacts of tourism, as well as improvement of the social benefits of tourism will increase the economic outcomes of tourism within the destination countries.


Tourism influences the host communities socially, environmentally, and economically both negatively and positively (Franklin, 2003). Tourism planners should control and avoid the negative impacts of tourism, but encourage the positive impacts. Some of the negative impacts include erosion of culture, air and water pollution, and change in the prices of properties in the host communities (Leslie, 2012). Positive impacts include improvement of infrastructural facilities, increased sales, creation of employment, and sharing of cultural values. Sustainable tourism development occurs through the enhancement of social outcomes, environmental outcomes, and economic outcomes (Harris, Griffin, & Williams, 2002). 

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