Tourism’s Contribution to Sustainable Development
Many developing countries consider tourism to be important for economic progress and poverty reduction. However, it is also clear that the link between tourism and economic growth and poverty reduction is not automatic. It very much depends on whether tourism generates employment opportunities, creates linkages – in particular with agriculture and service-providing sectors – and stimulates the development of basic infrastructure through the construction of roads, port and airport facilities and the provision of financial services from which the economy as a whole can benefit. While the role of tourism in structural economic progress and sustainable development is not a new topic on the international agenda, how to make tourism more sustainable and contribute to developing countries’ sustainable development objectives is still a challenge that requires our urgent attention.
Possibly the most pressing negative impact of tourism is the one it exerts on the environment. As it is energy- and water-consuming, produces large amounts of waste and affects cultural heritage by attracting large crowds of people to these sites, tourism can cause considerable environmental and cultural heritage damage. The impact of tourism on biodiversity has already been immense. There are many examples where large-scale tourism has had detrimental effects on biodiversity, including coral reefs, coastal wetland, rainforests, arid and semi-arid ecosystems and mountainous areas.
To ensure that tourism provides employment and income opportunities in the long run and contributes to sustainable development, its operations, including the activities that are linked with it, it must be sustainable.