Sustainability challenges in tourism: lack of regulation and enforcement

Lack of regulation and policy enforcement is the focus of this seventh post of our special series on the key challenges preventing tourism businesses and destinations from becoming more sustainable.

In our interviews with tourism and sustainability professionals we often include a question about which they consider the main challenges regarding tourism sustainability. Among the many (and very diverse) answers so far, we’ve identified 10 themes and areas of concern. Lack of regulation and policy enforcement is one of them.

Below a few extracts and answers from our interviews, intended to offer you a snapshot of expert views on the topic. We strongly recommend you to read the full versions of the interviews. Sustainability challenges in tourism are very location-specific, and as such best understood in context.

Lack of regulation and policy enforcement

Abdulla Radaideh, Jordan:

“Waste management: we are separating our waste inside the hotel for the recycling but all the waste is going out to the landfill after being collected by the local authority, except for some recyclable material that we are contracting some private companies to take them, instead of the local authority – like oil, metal cans and sometimes plastics.”

Torben Kaas, Denmark:

“It is a great challenge that many very simple systems with only self-control are being launched by large players, such as tour operators, hotel associations and NGOs. On the site it is very difficult for the customers to see, if the hotel manager has winged off four questions in an email questionnaire to get the green diploma, or if it is a real programme with a real content and external audits, like Green Key.”

Antonis Petropoulos, Greece:

“A common issue for all genuine green operators is ‘unfair’ competition from all those who cut corners, by not even meeting legislation (such as environmental, safety and tax) let alone high standards.”

Paul Rogers, Australia:

“The ability to enforce rules and regulations – so many locations I’ve worked in lack the human and financial resources to implement laws, rules and regulations.”

Susanne Becken, Australia:

“I think the key challenges are around ‘unlocking’ structures and practices that are embedded (e.g. in society, but also in infrastructure) and that stop us from implementing those technologies or behaviours that are more sustainable. Often, vested interests, political factors, power relations, old thinking, sunk investment – and the list goes on – make it very difficult to make changes, even though we have evidence that these changes would deliver better outcomes.”

Agha Iqrar Haroon, Pakistan:

“There is NO law for sustainable tourism in Pakistan. Domestic tourism is booming and over 15 to 20 million domestic tourists travel to our North and other mountain valleys during three-month summer season. Just imagine there is NOT one single solid waste disposal plant or proper dumping ground in any of our tourism destinations.

There is no law that only trained and certified people can work in the tourism industry. Yesterday a person was a bank manager and possibly tomorrow will be the manager of an accommodation in a very fragile touristic spot.”

Sheikh Md. Monzurul Huq, Bangladesh:

“The challenges include adequate funding in the tourism sector, challenges confronting governments and tourism stakeholders to establish the necessary connections, high travel cost, visa problems, and security and safety issues, lack of commitment of governmental policy and planning strategy etc.”

Ignasi Uño, Spain:

“Urban planning and anticipating the impact of tourist activity in the territory. [We need a] governance model that doesn’t change criteria whenever there is a political or government staff change.

In May 2015, a new party won local elections. One of the key issues during the election campaign was the need to control mass tourism in Barcelona.”

Most recent articles on sustainable tourism challenges:

Please note that the information and views set out in this article are those of the authors (interviewees) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of the organizations they work for.

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Sustainability Challenges in Tourism Explained: #7 Lack of Regulation and Policy Enforcement