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Sustainable Tourism Development: Is Achieving Balance an Impossible Dream?. Dr. Steve Burr Director, Institute for Outdoor Recreation and Tourism College of Natural Resources Utah State University Presentation for REDTT Annual Meeting 2000 Socorro, New Mexico

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sustainable tourism development is achieving balance an impossible dream

Sustainable Tourism Development:Is Achieving Balance an Impossible Dream?

Dr. Steve Burr

Director, Institute for Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

College of Natural Resources

Utah State University

Presentation for REDTT Annual Meeting 2000

Socorro, New Mexico

October 17, 2000

utah state university s institute for outdoor recreation and tourism
Utah State University’s Institute for Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
  • In 1998, Utah State Legislature approved Senate Bill 35.
  • To provide continuing funding to Utah State University...
  • To establish and support an interdisciplinary program of research, extension, and teaching...
a better understanding
A Better Understanding...
  • To better understand the relationships between:
    • outdoor recreation and tourism;
    • natural resources management;
    • community economic vitality;
    • quality of life issues for the citizens of Utah.
the mission of the institute
The Mission of the Institute

The Institute for Outdoor Recreation and Tourism (IORT) conducts a program of research, extension, and teaching for the benefit of the people of Utah, our country, and the world, directed at improving our understanding of the relationships between outdoor recreation and tourism, natural resources management, community economic vitality, and quality of life.

sustainable tourism development is achieving balance an impossible dream5
Sustainable Tourism Development:Is Achieving Balance an Impossible Dream?
  • Tourism
    • Economic Impact
    • As a Development Industry
  • Sustainability and Sustainable Development
    • “Ideal” and “Reality”
    • Goal or Process?
sustainable tourism development is achieving balance an impossible dream6
Sustainable Tourism Development:Is Achieving Balance an Impossible Dream?
  • Sustainable Tourism Development
    • Criteria
    • Tenets
    • Operationalizing
    • Problems and Obstacles
    • Best Chances for Success
tourism the world s biggest industry
Tourism...the world’s biggest industry?
  • Tourism accounts for 10% of global gross domestic product.
  • Estimated that tourism employs up to 10% of the world’s workforce. (World Tourism Organization, 1999)
utah tourism at a glance 1999
Utah Tourism at a Glance--1999
  • Tourism is among Utah’s “Top 5” economic activities. (manufacturing, trade, services, government)
  • $4.2 billion in traveler spending for Utah’s economy
  • Over 7% of Utah’s Gross State Product

Statistics from Utah Division of Travel Development

utah tourism at a glance 19999
Utah Tourism at a Glance--1999
  • $336 million generated in state and local taxes
  • $158 per Utah resident generated by out-of-state tourists
  • These taxes help pay for services and infrastructure that residents enjoy.

Statistics from Utah Division of Travel Development

utah tourism at a glance 199910
Utah Tourism at a Glance--1999
  • 119,500 total jobs in travel and tourism related industries
    • 67,000 direct jobs
    • 52,500 indirect and induced jobs
  • 11.4% of total non-agricultural employment

Statistics from Utah Division of Travel Development

true for new mexico too
True for New Mexico too!

“Tourism is one of the most successful industries in the state, generating more than $3 billion in revenues each year and creating more than 50,000 jobs statewide.”

From “Impact--Making a Difference, Rural Economic Development Through Tourism” November 1999

tourism as a development industry
Tourism as a Development Industry
  • Tourism relies on the development and utilization of natural, historical, cultural, and human resources in the local environment as tourist attractions and destinations.
  • Creates recreational uses for natural and human-made amenity resources and converts these into income producing assets. (Siehl 1990; Willits 1992)
tourism development economic benefits versus potential costs
Tourism DevelopmentEconomic Benefits versus Potential Costs
  • Economic Benefits, but Potential Costs to the Environment and Local Society
  • Potentially Exploitive Tendency
  • Being Approached with a Sense of Caution
tourism development economic benefits versus potential costs14
Tourism DevelopmentEconomic Benefits versus Potential Costs

“Ill-conceived and poorly planned tourism development can erode the very qualities of the natural and human environments that attract visitors in the first place.” (Inskeep, 1991)

sustainability and sustainable development
Sustainability and Sustainable Development
  • Concept of “sustainability” recently associated with tourism development initiatives and efforts. (French, 1992; Long & Nuckolls, 1992)
  • “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987)
sustainable development
Sustainable Development
  • All development paths that are either environmentally benign or beneficial.
  • Tied to sustainable use-- careful and sensitive economic development is possible without degrading or depleting natural resources needed by present and future generations.
sustainable development17
Sustainable Development
  • Meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
  • Promotes intergenerational responsibility.
sustainable tourism development
Sustainable Tourism Development

Involves management of all resources in such a way that “economic, social, and aesthetic needs [are fulfilled] while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity, and life support systems.” (Inskeep, 1991)

sustainable tourism development19
Sustainable Tourism Development
  • “Remains viable over an indefinite period and does not degrade nor alter the environment (human and physical) in which it exists to such a degree that it prohibits the successful development and well-being of other activities and processes.” (Butler, 1993)
sustainable tourism development20
Sustainable Tourism Development
  • Should follow ethical principles that “respect the culture and environment of the host area, the economy and traditional way of life, the indigenous behavior, and the local leadership and political patterns.” (Cronin, 1990)
sustainable tourism development21
Sustainable Tourism Development
  • Interest in “protecting, using carefully and benefiting the human and cultural, as well as the natural heritage of an area, implying active participation and leadership by local people, organizations, and government.” (Inskeep, 1991)
can tourism development really be sustainable
Can Tourism Development Really Be Sustainable?

Policy Endorsement

Policy Implementation

(the “Ideal”)

(the “Reality”)

is it possible to prove sustainability
Is it possible to “prove” sustainability?
  • Difficult to “prove” sustainability
  • Easier to “prove” unsustainability
sustainability an ideal balance of capacities in three systems
SustainabilityAn “Ideal” Balance of Capacities in Three Systems

Economic

Environmental

Socio-Cultural

sustainability an ideal balance of capacities in three systems25
SustainabilityAn “Ideal” Balance of Capacities in Three Systems
  • Maximize Goal Achievement across the three systems at one and the same time through an Adaptive Process of Trade-Offs.
  • The more the three systems and goals converge, the more sustainable development becomes.
the reality
The Reality

Environmental

Economic

Socio-Cultural

Political-Legal System

the reality27
The Reality

Economic

Environmental

Socio-Cultural

Political-Legal System

the reality28
The Reality

Environmental

Economic

Socio-Cultural

Political-Legal System

the reality29
The Reality
  • Not possible to maximize all goals at the same time through an adaptive process of trade-offs.
  • Conflict may exist between and among inter- and intra-system goals.
the reality30
The Reality
  • As a result of values, choices are made as to which goals are more valuable and which should receive higher priority.
  • As a result, different development strategies assign different priorities to the systems and their goals.
the reality31
The Reality
  • Process of trade-offs among goals must be adaptive since relative priorities assigned to various goals change over time.
  • Interactions among the different system goals change as the scale of the systems is extended from local to regional to national and to global.
sustainable development32
Sustainable Development
  • Concept of sustainable development provokes groups at different levels to set a wide spectrum of goals and then to reconcile them.
sustainable development33
Sustainable Development

“It is this reconciliation or trade-offs implicit in sustainable development that has inspired much useful work since the early 1980s… [amounting] to a new renaissance in thinking in social welfare and development issues.” (Holmberg & Sandbrook, 1992)

four real dilemmas or disagreements
Four Real Dilemmas or Disagreements
  • The world cannot go on making economic growth the unquestionable objective of development policy.
  • Factors that make up sustainable development differ from those involved in conventional economic development.
four real dilemmas or disagreements35
Four Real Dilemmas or Disagreements
  • How do we answer the question for whom is development, and what is to be conserved by making it sustainable?
  • Relationship between sustainable development and democratic government.
there is no shortcut to sustainability
There is no “shortcut to sustainability!”
  • Patterns of sustainable development must be built from the bottom up, showing what can be achieved at local levels and then working to disseminate positive experiences. (Holmberg & Sandbrook, 1992)
sustainability goal or process
Sustainability Goal or Process?
  • Most often viewed as a goal, an end-point, a destination...
  • Instead, more of an ongoing process… taking more of a dynamic perspective
  • An on-going, adaptive learning process
sustainability goal or process38
Sustainability Goal or Process?

“Transition to sustainability must involve harnessing science and technology to provide direction, examine alternative pathways, measure success--or lack of it--along the way, and produce information and incentives for changing course.”

(National Research Council, National Academies, 1999)

sustainable development39
Sustainable Development
  • Today, most policy documents recognize and claim adherence to the principle of sustainable development… indicating its evolution into full-scale institutionalization. (Frazier, 1997)
sustainable development40
Sustainable Development
  • Major problem with sustainable development is its ambiguity and subsequent vulnerability to interpretation and employment on ideological grounds. (Weaver & Lawton, 1999)
  • “Ideal” of Policy Endorsement versus “Reality” of Policy Implementation
sustainable tourism development41
Sustainable Tourism Development
  • “Increased emphasis is being placed on those forms of tourism that are particularly sensitive to promoting and retaining the integrity of natural and socio-cultural environments.” (Swinnerton & Hinch, 1994)
sustainable tourism development42
Sustainable Tourism Development
  • There must be a balance between “a degree or type of development that will bring economic and other benefits to a community and the point at which that development starts to feed on rather than sustain the very elements at its basis.” (Cronin, 1990)
criteria for sustainable development
Criteria for Sustainable Development
  • Follow ethical principles
  • Involve the local population
  • Give the local population an element of control
  • Be undertaken with equity in mind
tenets of sustainable tourism development
Tenets of Sustainable Tourism Development
  • Low impact and small in scale
  • Careful in progress
  • Appropriate and sensitive to the local natural and socio-cultural environment
  • Readily integrated into the existing social and economic life of the community
operationalizing sustainable tourism development std
Operationalizing Sustainable Tourism Development (STD)
  • Define goals of STD for a destination.
  • Establish appropriate planning and management framework.
  • Select relevant indicators from a candidate list of economic, environmental, and socio-cultural criteria.
candidate sustainable tourism indicators
Candidate Sustainable Tourism Indicators
  • Environmental
    • Destruction or alteration of natural habitat by tourism construction
    • Amount of litter associated with tourism activities
    • Resource consumption associated with tourism
candidate sustainable tourism indicators47
Candidate Sustainable Tourism Indicators
  • Economic
    • Revenues earned directly from tourism
    • Proportion of destination employment associated with tourism
    • Profitability of individual operations
candidate sustainable tourism indicators48
Candidate Sustainable Tourism Indicators
  • Socio-Cultural
    • Number of resident complaints against tourism
    • Amount of crime directed against tourists and the tourism industry
    • Number and condition of heritage structures and sites
    • Integrity of the local culture
operationalizing sustainable tourism development std49
Operationalizing Sustainable Tourism Development (STD)
  • Measure and monitor these indicators.
  • Periodically analyze and assess indicator performance.
  • Determine whether original goals are being achieved.
  • Implement remedial action, if necessary. (Weaver & Lawton, 1999)
problems encountered in all of these steps
Problems Encountered in All of These Steps
  • Sustainable tourism development goals influenced by ideological considerations--lack of common ground often evident.
  • Assuming goal consensus, necessary to define temporal, spatial, political, and inter-sectoral parameters within which to assess sustainable tourism.
all problematic
All Problematic!
  • Long-term planning discouraged by short-term budget allocations.
  • A narrow, politically-defined spatial planning unit cannot take into account all the influences and effects affecting sustainability of the sector.
  • Tourism cannot be isolated from other resource uses.
for sustainability indicators
For Sustainability Indicators...
  • Potential number of indicators within any particular destination is enormous.
  • Strategically difficult to monitor more than a few.
  • No definitive guidelines available to inform destinations as to which ones are most important.
for sustainability indicators53
For Sustainability Indicators...
  • Decision to include or exclude particular indicators is ultimately a subjective exercise, highly sensitive to context.
  • Little known about critical thresholds of sustainability that apply to each criterion, how they can be measured, and how often they should be monitored.
spatial and temporal discontinuities between cause and effect
Spatial and Temporal Discontinuities Between Cause and Effect
  • Many of the impacts identified within a destination and/or within a specific time period actually have their causes in other areas or time periods.
  • Events within destinations may have consequences in other destinations and time periods.
many obstacles to achieving sustainable tourism development
Many Obstacles to Achieving Sustainable Tourism Development
  • Is achieving STD even possible and/or worthwhile?
    • If no effort is made at all, unsustainable outcomes are virtually guaranteed.
    • Sustainability indicators are just that, an indication, rather than an absolute confirmation, of sustainability.
    • New information on sustainable practices in tourism is continually being generated.
given all these problems with std
Given All These Problems with STD...
  • It is more appropriate to describe destinations as being “indicative” of sustainable tourism development than to state they are definitely sustainable.
  • An accurate judgment as to sustainability is still too difficult to make.
focus on achieving equity and balance
Focus on Achieving Equity and Balance
  • Sustainable tourism development is determined largely by what “stakeholders” want it to be.
  • An informed, open participatory process for decision-making
  • Creates empowerment and involvement
  • Cooperative and collaborative action
best chances for success
Best Chances for Success
  • From professionals and volunteers working in tourism development.
  • Following an approach that focuses on the tenets of sustainable development in all development efforts and initiatives.
  • Facilitates resident involvement, participation in decision-making, and local control in development.
best chances for success59
Best Chances for Success
  • Cooperative interaction can create:
    • networks both within and outside the community
    • roles for involved community members
    • shared experiences
    • opportunities for further community development
    • contributions to the general quality of life in a community
sustainable tourism development is achieving balance an impossible dream60
Sustainable Tourism Development:Is Achieving Balance an Impossible Dream?

Dr. Steve Burr

Associate Professor of Recreation Resources

Director, Institute for Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

Extension Specialist in Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

Institute for Outdoor Recreation and Tourism

Utah State University

5220 Old Main Hill

Logan, Utah 84322-5220

Office: (435) 797-7094

FAX: (435) 797-4040

E-mail: swburr@cc.usu.edu

IORT Website under Interdisciplinary Programs at www.cnr.usu.edu

sustainable tourism development61
Sustainable Tourism Development
  • Planned and managed for the protection of the natural environment for future generations
  • Planned in an integrated manner with other economic sectors and social systems
  • Assessed on an ongoing basis to evaluate impacts and permit action to counter any negative effects
focus achieving equity and balance
Focus: Achieving Equity and Balance
  • Involves “mutual learning and adaptation among all concerned parties in the context of shared responsibility and equity.” (Nelson, 1993)
primary environmental care pec
Primary Environmental Care(PEC)
  • Local groups or communities organize themselves with varying degrees of outside support to apply their skills and knowledge for the care of their natural resources and environment while satisfying livelihood needs
primary environmental care pec64
Primary Environmental Care(PEC)
  • Three Goals:
    • Economic goal of meeting and satisfying basic needs
    • Environmental goal of protection and optimal utilization of the environment
    • Social goal of empowering groups and communities
primary environmental care pec65
Primary Environmental Care(PEC)
  • Success of PEC is dependent on local groups and communities who can:
    • Organize, participate, and influence development priorities;
    • Access natural, human, and financial resources;
    • Select and help develop productive and environmentally sensitive technologies.
primary environmental care pec66
Primary Environmental Care(PEC)
  • Outside institutions must empower the local community by way of political support and open access to information, and take an adaptive and flexible approach if resources are provided.