How can we make sure our communities are welcoming, our visitor economies resilient and our destinations sustainable?
This Sustainable Tourism Knowledge Hub seeks to provide some answers to this crucial question, by sharing insights into the art of sustainability as practiced by leaders and changemakers in tourism. It offers you a unique glimpse behind the scenes of sustainable tourism as it is – or should be – practiced around the world. The insights presented here are a summary, or perhaps better, a snapshot, of state-of-the-art thinking on the topic.
What is Sustainable Tourism?
Sustainable tourism is about supporting the local economy, offering community-based travel experiences where travellers can participate and learn, reducing carbon footprint and plastic use, protecting and conserving nature and wildlife, while still making a financial profit. Sounds complicated and challenging? Well, it certainly is.
Especially because tourism is not a single entity but a network of various establishments, each with its purpose. All stakeholders have a vested interest in the outcome yet are needed to ensure the long-term success of tourism.
And one thing has to be clear: tourism will never be entirely sustainable. Even the occasions where it gets close to this goal are rare. When looked at globally, sustainable tourism is something of an oxymoron, in the sense that any tourism involving international flight travel is likely to be contributing more CO2 than it can return, however green a holiday is.
Rather than chasing after sustainability as something you could achieve in full, it makes more sense to understand it as an ongoing journey – and an attitude towards why and how we develop and manage tourism with all its components. Sustainable tourism is a dynamic balance that must be constantly maintained through the interaction of all the actors involved.
- Protects the natural environment
- Is all about the locals
- Uses resources efficiently
- Contributes to the SDGs
- Is profitable
Latest Sustainable Tourism Insights & Advice
Beyond Greenwashing: Experts Weigh in on the Realities and Opportunities of Sustainable Tourism
Discover insights from sustainable tourism experts on challenges and opportunities for regenerative travel in the post-COVID world.
Most Inspiring Sustainable Tourism Champions to Follow in 2023
Expert panel identifies most inspiring tourism businesses and destinations 2023, working towards sustainability and regenerative tourism.
Sustainable Tourism Development: Key Trends and Priorities in 2023
Sustainable tourism development 2023: which are the trends and priorities? We asked our global panel of travel and sustainability experts.
Innovation for Tourism Sustainability: Challenges to Overcome
Innovation for tourism sustainability: which are the key challenges and barriers to overcome? Sustainable tourism panel shares ideas.
No need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to implementing sustainability in tourism. Here a few links to resources to help you get started:
- How to embrace sustainability: sustainable tourism tips for destination managers
Tips for destination managers on how to embrace sustainability to gain or maintain reputation and competitive advantage, by leading sustainable tourism professionals.
- How to deal with overtourism, gentrification and the sharing economy
Tourism and sustainability experts discuss how to deal with the sharing economy, gentrification and overtourism, proposing strategies and solutions.
- How to get started with sustainability: tips for tourism businesses
Tourism professionals share tips on how to approach sustainability as opportunity and competitive advantage.
Below some sustainable tourism examples – how they do it.
You’d like the bigger picture? Explore our World Map!
Darrell Wade: How Intrepid Champions Carbon Management and Sustainable Travel
Les Carlisle: Championing Wildlife Conservation and Sustainable Tourism Development in Africa
Kai Collins: Championing Community-Driven Conservation Economy and Sustainable Tourism in the Okavango River Basin
Greg Bakunzi: Championing Community Well-Being and Conservation Through Responsible Tourism in Rwanda
It is difficult to pin down the exact challenges preventing tourism from being more sustainable, as many things could be conflicting, depending on the business or destination. Only very occasionally tourism operations are downright irresponsible. More often there is a combination of conflicting priorities (such as between service standards and sustainability criteria), business models (e.g., properties that are managed by one organization and owned by another), and misleading incentives (rewarding consumption rather than conservation).
Let’s take a closer look at the challenges and pitfalls, as identified by our panel:
Sustainable Tourism Trends
One thing is clear: tourism is in a stage of transformation, and a lot of changes are going to sweep through the industry in the coming years. In the future, when we look back at the evolution of this industry, the complete halt in travel and hospitality caused by the pandemic will be a good case study on how to prepare for unforeseen shocks. So, what trends to keep an eye on, what avenues to invest time and energy in, and what to opt-out of?
This is a question which we ask our panel every year. Below a few links to resources on the topic of trends and priorities:
Sustainable Tourism Networking
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about sustainable tourism, then that sustainability is a team effort, much easier to achieve for those who can benefit from exchange of ideas and advice. While our interviews are packed with tips and examples to follow, sometimes it’s good to connect directly with fellow tourism professionals, to hear their story first hand. But which groups and networks dedicated to sustainability (online and offline) should tourism practitioners follow?
Our panel suggests:
- On Facebook, the Responsible Tourism Networking group is the most popular.
- Ecotourism practitioners should join and follow the Global Ecotourism Network and its regional chapters.
- The Global Sustainable Tourism Council is considered a valuable network to engage with.
- Destination practitioners should keep an eye on Green Destinations.
Connect with Sustainability Leaders on LinkedIn!
NEW: Professional Handbook
Just published, our professional handbook with interviews, insights, and knowledge from practice. A summary and snapshot of combined wisdom and experience of leading sustainability innovators, champions and changemakers.
Career Choice: Why Focus on Tourism and Sustainability?
What inspired sustainability leaders and tourism changemakers to focus their career on sustainable tourism? Leading professionals share their story.
What Inspires Tourism Professionals to Focus their Career on Sustainability?
What inspires tourism professionals to dedicate their career to sustainability? Leading sustainable tourism researchers and practitioners share their story.
10 Tips on How to Make a Career in Sustainable Tourism
How to make a career in sustainable tourism, how to get started? Leading sustainable tourism professionals share their tips and advice.
How Can We Help?
You have a specific question about sustainability or sustainable tourism? We can help you find answers. Save time, energy and money by using our information scout service. Happy to recommend you a suitable advisor for your strategy development and implementation.
Speaking & Coaching
Are you looking for a coach or speaker? Let us know. We can reach out to our global network of sustainable tourism specialists for you.
You have done all the hard work and finally seeing the results of your investment in sustainability measures. Let us help you share your success story with the wider community of potential visitors, partners, suppliers.