(updated February 2015)
Sourced from the Lesson Plan for Principles of Tourism II
Define the meaning of sustainability and
Discuss the importance of sustainability and the
role of the industry
Identify the concept of carrying capacity and the
difficulties involved in applying that concept to
the real world.
• Definitions of Sustainability
• What is Sustainable Tourism?
• Definitions of Sustainable Tourism
• Sustainability of Tourism
• Economic aspects, Environmental aspects or Socio-cultural aspects
working against sustainable tourism
• Thresholds and carrying capacity
• The process of determining carrying capacity
• Sustainable tourism products
• Sustainability as a strategy
Definitions of Sustainability
The Brutland Report(1987) defined sustainability to be ‘meeting the needs of
the present generation without compromising the ability of future
generations to meet their own needs’ and it went on to identify some basic
principles of sustainability.
The identified needs were to:
• Take a holistic approach to planning and strategy;
• Protect the environment (biodiversity) and man-made heritage;
• Preserve the essential ecological processes;
• Facilitate and engage public participation;
• Ensure the productivity can be sustained into the long-term future and
• Provide for a better level of fairness and opportunity between different
The proponents of sustainability can be
subdivided into two school of thought:
1. Those that may be classified as strong or full
2. Those that may be deemed to be weak or
partial sustainable supporters.
WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE TOURISM?
Tourism that takes full account of its
current and future economic, social
and environmental impacts,
addressing the need of visitors, the
industry, the environment and host
Simplistically we can categorize them into four
types of capital stock:
Human: the population, welfare, health,
workforce, educational and skill base.
Physical: productive capital such as machinery,
Socio-cultural: well being, social cohesion,
empowerment, equity, cultural heritage.
SUSTAINABILITY AND CAPITAL STOCKS
(production and consumption)
Total Human Welfare
What is Sustainable Tourism?
Preserving the current resources base for future
Maintaining the productivity of the resource base.
Maintaining biodiversity and avoiding irreversible
Ensuing equity between and within generations.
Maintaining and protecting the heritage of the area,
region or nation.
DEFINITIONS OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM
THE WTO outlined that sustainable tourism should:
Make optimal use of environmental resources (while maintaining
the essential ecological processes while helping to conserve the
natural heritage and biodiversity)
Respect the sociocultural authenticity of those communities
(helping to conserve the cultural heritage and traditional values
as well as seeking to engender intercultural understanding
Ensure viable, long-term economic operations, providing
socioeconomic benefits to all stakeholders
SUSTAINABILITY OF TOURISM
Economic aspects working against sustainable
Environmental aspects working against
Socio-cultural aspects working against
THRESHOLDS AND CARRYING CAPACITY
Tourism activity exceeding the thresholds is likely to affect every facet of
tourism development. For instance, exceeding:
Physical thresholds will limit the volume of tourist flows and expose tourists to
Environmental thresholds will limit the tourists flows by creating secondary
problems, such as health hazards, or detract from the attractiveness of a
Socio an cultural thresholds will generate resentment and antagonism towards
tourists from the host population.
Tourist flows thresholds will affect the satisfaction levels of tourists and cause
them to search elsewhere for a better products.
Economic thresholds will result in misallocation of resources and factors of
“the maximum number of people who can use a
site without an unacceptable alteration in the
physical environment and without an
unacceptable decline in the quality of
experience gained by visitors”
(Mathieson and Wall,1982)
When attempting to identify the levels of carrying capacity, to
weigh the absolute numbers of tourist arrivals to take account of
a number of factors as follows:
• The average length of stay;
• The characteristics of tourist and hosts;
• The geographical concentration of tourist;
• The degree of seasonality;
• The type of tourism activity;
• The accessibility of specific sites;
• The level of infrastructure use and its spare capacity;
• The extent of spare capacity among the various productive sectors of the
The determinants and influences of carrying capacity
Local Factors Alien Factos
Management of development
Society Culture Environment Economy
T he present level of carrying capacity
soon becomes accepted and this level
of acceptance influences the local and
alien factors at the top of the process
and modifies tolerance levels
throughout in this way carrying
capacities can be extended overtime
The interaction between local and alien
factors, directed and governed by the
planning process, will determine the
THE PROCESS OF DETERMINING CARRYING CAPACITY
• Types of tourist
SUSTAINABLE TOURISM PRODUCTS
• Eco-tourism is unequivocally linked to natural tourism
attractions rather than their man-made counterparts and
environmental sustainability is often to be a core component of
such a product’s definition.
• Eco-tourism demands a high level of interpretation whereas
the mass tourism product does not.
• Both eco-tourism and alternative imply small-scale,
indigenous low-key activities.
•Eco-tourism suggest that it has in place constraints that will
prevent or inhibit uncontrolled development.
• Both forms of tourism activity ca provide a temporary runway
for the take-off of the destination as it moves towards mass
SUSTAINABLE TOURISM PRODUCTS
The 10 Rs
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Recognize, Refuse, Replace, Reduce, reuse,
Recycle, Re-engineer, Retrain, Reward,
SUSTAINABILITY AS A STRATEGY
• Sustainability more than anything else involves a
process of recognition and responsibility.
• A sustainable strategy must engage all of the
stakeholders in the planning of tourism
• Economic sustainability for tourism requires
holistic planning across all industrial sectors
•The quality of the tourism product demands staff
training that is universally acceptable and the
economic environment must make environmentally
and socio-culturally sound behavior the best
SUSTAINABILITY AS A STRATEGY
•Environmental sustainability in tourism requires
greater awareness and knowledge about the
impacts and ways of translating those impacts into
the economic marketplace.
•The indirect and induce environmental
consequences of activities must be included in the
calculation of their market prices but it must also be
recognized that environmental and social system
change over time as a natural consequence of
development and such changes need to be