Sustainable tourism: what are its characteristics and current status?

The sustainable tourism market is growing at a compound annual rate of 9.72%. (Andean)

The United Nations World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism as this activity that meets the needs of current tourists and host regions without neglecting protection of the current ecosystem, thereby ensuring opportunities for the future.

Sustainable tourism seeks to promote and develop profitable economic activity, p minimal impact on the environment; that is, it establishes an adequate balance between the ecological, economic and socio-cultural axes of tourism development. For this reason, sustainable tourism plays a key role in biodiversity conservation. The ideal is to minimize their impact on both ecosystems and local culture so that both are available for future generations.

The sustainable tourism provides crucial economic incentives for habitat conservation. Revenue generated by visitors is often reinvested in nature conservation or through capacity-building programs for local communities to manage protected areas in areas of direct influence. This practice allows tourists as well as industry professionals to preserve megadiverse or endemic species environments in a permanent and consistent manner.

Revenue generated by visitors is often reinvested in nature conservation.  (Andean)
Revenue generated by visitors is often reinvested in nature conservation. (Andean)

Sustainable tourism: categories, evolution and effect of the pandemic

Deepening its definition, sustainable tourism gravitates towards 3 main categories:

1. responsible tourism: an activity that minimizes environmental damage and carbon footprint.

two. Solidarity tourism: an activity that aims to develop the territories and support the local communities.

3. Fair tourism: activity based on the principle of fair trade.

However, the tourism industry, as well as the habits and expectations of tourists, are constantly changing. In other words, we are increasingly aware of the threat posed by population growth, urban sprawl, and the economic diversification of nature, including flora, fauna, and abiotic elements. However, our awareness does not necessarily translate into actions that effectively minimize or prevent such impacts, especially those related to the pollution of water from rivers, seas, lakes, the introduction of alien species or the progress of agriculture. However, in all modern industries and sectors, both environmental concerns and regulations in this area force tourism companies (hotels, restaurants, travel agents, carriers, etc.) to change their operations to slow down the effects of human intervention , which in some cases is uncontrolled.

On the other hand, the pandemic has played a leading role in the world in tourism. With the border closures, travel has been interrupted, which some biologists, entomologists and ecologists say has allowed the planet to “take a break” to recover from the overcapacity of uncontrolled high-flying visitors. carbon footprint. For example, several tourist destinations were on the verge of collapse such as Thailand, the Dominican Republic or parts of the Amazon. Various governments were already considering taking immediate action to counter the environmental impact caused by tourists. However, it can be credited with the pandemic providing respite to a stricken natural world.

Towards digital sustainable tourism

There is currently an increase in the number of apps that help travelers plan sustainable vacations. An example of this is that of Google Flights, which include carbon estimates in its searches, as well as recommendations for less polluted routes. Another example is Greener’s Choice on skyscanner which provide a similar service for air transport and whose offer was extended to the rental of hybrid and electric cars. Also the company added mention and filter Sustainable travel which highlights the most outstanding eco-friendly accommodations. Likewise, some airlines have begun to include in theirs tickets information on CO2 emissions for each trip.

Tourism and sustainability

According to the European Environment Agency, a train passenger emits 14 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometer compared to the 285 grams they emit if they travel by plane. in turn cars generate emissions approaching 200 grams of CO2 per kilometeralthough this may vary by model, engine type and fuel used.

Another important piece of information is the “Environmental Performance Index,” which is a report published annually by Yale and Columbia University. This document classifies 180 countries according to their environmental management and performance. In this respect, in 2021, Denmark is in first place, followed by the United Kingdom, Finland, Malta and Sweden. The researchers found that several countries, including the top two, are on track to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050. But nations like China and India are moving in the opposite direction, so you might have to wait until both show intentions to change towards sustainability.

Tourist forecasts and some reflections

In a recent article published by Forbes magazine, it was revealed that global consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the negative impacts of tourism on the environment. It is this that has stimulated and continues to stimulate a greater demand for activities truly related to sustainable tourism. In fact, the sustainable tourism market is growing at a compound annual rate of 9.72%. Furthermore, the sector is expected to register an additional growth of $235.210 billion between 2020 and 2025.

It is important to emphasize that leisure and comfort should not be harmful to the environment. Major tourism entrepreneurs should include sustainable water use, local wastewater treatment plant, solar panels, internal electric transportation, preservation of air quality, including their energy sources. In other words, the migration did green management (green management). Added to this is the fact that after the health crisis, a Booking report indicated that 61% of citizens support traveling in a more environmentally friendly way. However, 49% believe there aren’t enough cleaner travel options.

The State of Sustainable Tourism in Peru

Peru’s Export and Tourism Promotion Commission (PromPerú) reported that international tourist arrivals to Peru will increase by 21% this year as a result of the reopening of borders. In this sense, some of the national sustainable destinations that have the stamp Safe trip are CuscoSan Martin, Lima, Puno and Madre de Dios.

Peru has many places where sustainable tourism is practiced successfully. They are primarily led by protected natural areas that represent a national and global benchmark for sustainability. Also tourism bird watchers (bird watchers) is all the rage and Peru is a leading destination in this field. In addition, it should be noted that in 2021, nine tourist destinations in our country are included in the important “List of the 100 most sustainable destinations” according to the foundation Green destinations. Specifically, seven of these recognized destinations were protected natural areas: Tambopata National Reserve, Pomak Forest Historic Sanctuary, Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, Tingo Maria National Park, Titicaca National Reserve, Bahuaya Sonene National Park, and Alto Mayo Protected Forest.

Thanks to these recognitions, Peru has joined an international group of destinations committed to sustainability and responsible tourism, based on principles recognized globally by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promoted by the Organization of the United Nations (UN).

It is also important to mention that the historical sanctuary and archaeological park of Machu Picchu were added to the previous award-winning destinations, this last tourism flag of Peru, a World Heritage Site and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Machu Picchu was precisely the national destination that in 2021 was recognized as a carbon neutral destination. This achievement was achieved thanks to the joint work between the local civil society and the public and private sectors. The central axis of all these efforts is the preservation of the natural and cultural heritage.

Tourism is one of the activities that generate more profit in the economic and cultural sphere of the world. Tourism, also known as the “white industry”, has the potential to become an economic engine for development, while ensuring adequate and timely protection of the planet’s natural biodiversity.


The conservation of Machu Picchu would be at risk due to a forced increase in visitor capacity
Three destinations in Peru receive an international award for sustainable tourism
Tourism in Peru: four tourist attractions recognized as sustainable destinations

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