2017, International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, to foster environmental conservation and economic growth.
The International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development was established to raise awareness on environmental issues and transform tourism into a motor for sustainable development in poor countries. As well as to highlight that environmental protection must go hand in hand with social equality.
According to UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, the establishment of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development is “a unique opportunity to build a more responsible and committed tourism sector that can capitalize its immense potential in terms of economic prosperity, social inclusion, peace and understanding, cultural and environmental preservation”. This confirms the opinion of global leaders, who during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20) told that “well-planned and well-managed” tourism can contribute also to creating jobs and foster trade.
But… What is Sustainable Tourism?
Sustainable tourism is tourism committed to generating a low impact on the surrounding environment and community by acting responsibly while generating income and employment for the local economy and aiding social cohesion. Sustainable tourism aims to ensure that economic development as a result of tourism is a positive experience for everyone involved; local community, tourism businesses and visitors.
- Greener transport – transport is central to tourism, but it also puts pressure on our natural resources and makes a contribution to our global environmental impact.
- Seasonal and geographical pressures – a more even spread of visitors reduces pressure on natural and built environments and on communities, and maximises the economic benefits.
- Understanding the impacts – we need to work with partners to measure the environmental and social impacts of tourism so we can ensure that tourism development brings a positive experience for local people, tourism companies and the tourists themselves.
- Greener accommodation – a sustainable tourism industry will be one in which all accommodation providers minimise their waste, energy and water use.
As our Co-founder Michelle Braddock said once…
At Lanzarote Retreats, ‘Finca de Arrieta’ we pride ourselves on our green credentials, being totally ‘off-grid’ relying on the wind and sun, recycling our water, providing organic produce and numerous other initiatives to ensure we have no negative impact on our environment. When our guests want to leave our retreat, comprising luxurious Mongolian yurts and traditional stone villas, to explore this beautifully unspoilt region of Lanzarote, we even provide them with the latest hybrid electric cars.
However holidays are a very precious time, they are the one time in a year that families can spoil themselves, therefore if ever there was justified time to be self-indulgent and worry less about environment then you could argue this is it. For this reason we see ‘going eco’ as just one aspect of escaping the ‘rat-race’ and the pressures of life. Nurturing and getting closer to the natural environment is good for the mind, but then so is relaxing in lavish surroundings and luxury accommodation.
As providers of ‘eco’ holidays and properties we cannot force our green credentials on people and expect them to choose our locations on that basis alone. We must be more creative and focus on initiatives that add to the guests experience, helping them to truly unwind, sit back and feel totally invigorated by the experience of our natural surroundings. By achieving this we are doing for more to empower people to care about this planet than merely preaching about the importance of sustainability!