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International Sustainable Tourism

Today’s Needs and Challenges of Sustainable Tourism

In today's world, many people love to travel. But now, there's a big focus on doing it in a way that doesn't harm the planet or local communities. We can call that responsible or sustainable tourism. It's about enjoying our adventures while also looking after the places we visit in order to keep its magic for future generations. In this article we are going to walk through today's needs and challenges of sustainable tourism. Let's explore how we can ensure our travels are not only enjoyable but also beneficial for the world around us.


Understanding Sustainable Tourism

According to UN Tourism, sustainable tourism is:

Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities

Because it boosts local economies, strengthens communities, and protects our cultural and natural riches, sustainable tourism is extremely vital. Sustainable tourism ensures that locations remain unique for future tourists by taking care not to harm the environment, honouring local customs, and including locals in decision-making. It also makes travel better for everyone by addressing issues that affect things like carbon footprints and overtourism through smart visitor management. In general, sustainable tourism aims to ensure that our vacations are pleasurable for us and beneficial for the destinations we visit.

Today’s Needs of Sustainable Tourism

Economic Viability

Economic viability is crucial for sustainable tourism, especially in developing nations where tourism serves as a significant income source. A noteworthy aspect is the multiplier effect: money spent by tourists circulates in the local economy, creating more jobs and income. Retaining tourism revenue within the destination country is vital, particularly for developing nations. Studies by the UN Tourism Organization indicate that in many cases, a substantial portion of tourism revenue exits the local economy, a phenomenon known as the leakage effect. For example, out of every 100 USD spent, only about 5 USD may stay in the destination. This issue is common in island states heavily reliant on tourism. Sustainable tourism initiatives should focus on reducing leakage and keeping more money within local communities. This approach not only supports economic resilience but also benefits the long-term prosperity of destination regions.

More Professionals in Sustainable Tourism Development

Dealing with sustainability requires expertise that can be learned. Tourism Professionals with education serve as the foundation for the development of sustainable tourism, contributing their knowledge in a range of fields including economics, behavioral science, impact studies, community empowerment or the collection of relevant data. Their varied skill sets allow them to balance the economic, socio-cultural, and environmental aspects of sustainability while analysing complicated problems, coming up with creative solutions, and putting those solutions into practice.

According to Booking.com’s 2022 report, 71% of travellers want to make more effort in the next year to travel more sustainably, and 53% are more determined to make sustainable travel choices when they travel now than a year ago. These statistics indicate a growing demand for sustainable tourism experiences, which in turn suggests an increase in job opportunities for professionals in the field. Academic institutions are adapting to the increasing need for knowledge on sustainable tourism. The combined Bachelor’s programme in International Sustainable Tourism offered by Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) and the World Tourism Organization (UN Tourism) is a noteworthy advancement in addressing this requirement. With this all-encompassing and flexible three-year programme, you can help create a more sustainable tourism environment. It entails studying abroad, receiving a degree from Switzerland, and taking advantage of a curriculum that was created in partnership with UN Tourism. This innovative educational programme, the first of its type, intends to develop young talents with the skills necessary to advance sustainable tourism efforts. Furthermore, students have the opportunity to study in Spain, which enhances their intercultural knowledge and thinking outside the box. Additionally, they can study remotely from anywhere during the second year, providing flexibility in their learning experience.

Infrastructure Development

To be sustainable, tourism must have infrastructure that improves visitor experiences while having as little negative influence as possible on the environment. Sustainable tourism development requires action in waste and resource management, eco-friendly lodging, efficient transportation and truly sustainable tourism experiences for tourists to choose from.

Education and Workforce Development

Two crucial elements of the development of sustainable tourism are educating community members about sustainable tourism practices and offering training opportunities for the tourism workforce. Providing people with the necessary information and abilities to adopt sustainable behaviors guarantees the long-term viability of tourism projects.

Challenges of the Future of Tourism

Climate Change

Climate change poses significant challenges to the tourism sector, impacting and being influenced by its operations. Rising temperatures, intense weather events, and sea level rise present risks to coastal and island destinations. Additionally, another significant issue is the scarcity of water, exacerbated by overuse by tourists compared to local residents. This overuse further strains already limited water resources in many regions. Furthermore, the loss of key tourism products, such as snow for winter tourism, underscores the multifaceted nature of the challenges faced. To address these complex issues and mitigate their impacts, it is crucial to prioritise climate resilience and adaptation strategies within sustainable tourism practices.

Social Inequality

The growth of the tourism industry has the potential to worsen social inequality by causing evictions, the marginalisation of certain cultures, and the exploitation of under-privileged populations. It will take inclusive policies, community engagement, and ethical tourist practices to address these discrepancies.

Lack of Awareness and Education

Many tourists remain unaware of the impact of their travel choices on destinations and communities. Educating travellers about sustainable tourism practices, responsible behavior, and cultural sensitivities is essential for fostering a culture of conscientious travel.


Creating awareness on the one hand and building capacity on the other is necessary to address the demands and difficulties of today’s sustainable tourism. Cooperative Bachelor’s programmes, for example, give people the tools they need to effect positive change, and investments in environment-friendly infrastructure reduce their negative effects on the environment and can even benefit the local population. Educating tourists and stakeholders also promotes a responsible tourism culture. Despite obstacles like social injustice and climate change, deliberate efforts may guarantee that tourism benefits the environment and people, opening the door to a more sustainable future.