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Sustainable Tourism Development: Is Achieving Balance an Impossible Dream?

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  1. 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

  2. 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...

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. Sustainable Tourism Development:Is Achieving Balance an Impossible Dream? • Sustainable Tourism Development • Criteria • Tenets • Operationalizing • Problems and Obstacles • Best Chances for Success

  7. 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)

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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)

  13. 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

  14. 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)

  15. 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)

  16. 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.

  17. Sustainable Development • Meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. • Promotes intergenerational responsibility.

  18. 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)

  19. 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)

  20. 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)

  21. 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)

  22. Can Tourism Development Really Be Sustainable? Policy Endorsement Policy Implementation (the “Ideal”) (the “Reality”)

  23. Is it possible to “prove” sustainability? • Difficult to “prove” sustainability • Easier to “prove” unsustainability

  24. SustainabilityAn “Ideal” Balance of Capacities in Three Systems Economic Environmental Socio-Cultural

  25. 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.

  26. The Reality Environmental Economic Socio-Cultural Political-Legal System

  27. The Reality Economic Environmental Socio-Cultural Political-Legal System

  28. The Reality Environmental Economic Socio-Cultural Political-Legal System

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. Sustainable Development • Concept of sustainable development provokes groups at different levels to set a wide spectrum of goals and then to reconcile them.

  33. 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)

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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)

  37. 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

  38. 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)

  39. 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)

  40. 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

  41. 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)

  42. 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)

  43. 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

  44. 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

  45. 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.

  46. 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

  47. Candidate Sustainable Tourism Indicators • Economic • Revenues earned directly from tourism • Proportion of destination employment associated with tourism • Profitability of individual operations

  48. 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

  49. 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)

  50. 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.