One has found themselves with extra time to contemplate things, now that all tourism activities have been suspended since the beginning of 2020. As the effects of tourism both positive and negative, can be seen clearly, perhaps it is time to consider the ways in which our travel and tourism can be beneficial for the environment.
You may have heard of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The United Nations has created a list of 17 Sustainable Development Goals in 2016, with the hope of achieving them by the year 2030. Each goal has a list of smaller, possibly more attainable sub-goals. Each of the 17 goals is interconnected with each other, so the achievement in one goal will help to achieve some of the others.
Listed below are the 17 sustainable development goals and how tourism helps to achieve each of these goals, as it is mapped out on their website:
1. No poverty
Tourism creates jobs. Sustainable tourism helps to create jobs at a more local level, which in turn generates the income needed to help reduce poverty and to create necessary investment for entrepreneurial activity within said communities.
2. Zero hunger
How tourism can contribute to the goal of ‘zero hunger’ is a two-pronged approach. As a general approach, tourism generates the need for more agricultural production regarding the ability to supply local eateries and accommodation guests. As per the approach of sustainable tourism, agritourism can be brought to the forefront of local agriculture as a way of educating the traveller and generating additional income for agriculture production communities.
3. Good Health & wellbeing
The theory of how tourism can contribute to the goal of ‘good health & wellbeing’ is straightforward and simple. Income generated from tourism, in the form of taxes, can be directed towards various community healthcare programmes.
4. Quality education
Tourism is able to contribute to the goal of ‘quality education’ through the means of providing a skilled workforce. Any locale where tourism is present, there is a need for customer service workers, rangers, guides and a variety of jobs which need people that have had training in their professional field. This need for practical training will result in more access to education in all areas.
5. Gender equality
In a parallel manner to how tourism contributes to the goal of eliminating poverty, helping to create more gender equality goes hand-in-hand with this. When small communities are able to generate enough profit for saving and distributing in the form of micro-loans to assist in the creation of entrepreneurial activity, many of these micro loans are directed towards women’s business, for example; in the form of handicraft sales.
6. Clean water & sanitation
For any area to be able to provide tourism activities, clean water & reliable sanitation is a must! This investment into local infrastructure is of pure benefit to all.
7. Affordable & clean energy
As a partner to clean water & sanitation, energy resources are also a necessity for tourism areas. The investment into clean energy into these areas is benefit in that it can help to reduce emissions and contribute to a more widespread access to energy for all.
8. Decent work & economic growth
Tourism, in itself, generates one of the highest percentages of employment in the world. It is said that 10% of all the jobs globally are tourism related. In an industry that can employ such a high percentage of people, economic growth and employment opportunities are of course, among the highest benefit of tourism efforts. Sustainable tourism takes this even further, as it employs more people at local and community levels which offers previously unprecedented ability for many to earn a living wage.
9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
As tourism needs infrastructure in its destination. This need for infrastructure puts additional pressure on local governments to provide these things in order to appeal to the tourism market and generate foreign investment activity.
10. Reduced inequalities
Tourism, especially sustainable tourism, can be an effective tool for reducing inequality. For example, agritourism can result in rural development which will help to not only generate additional income for these communities, but also result in rural development activities which in turn helps to reduce inequalities between the urban and rural populaces.
11. Sustainable cities & communities
Sustainable tourism in urban areas has increased the demand for green infrastructure. This demand has shown to result in greener city areas, with more sustainable options, for both the residents and the travellers.
12. Responsible consumption & production
It is said that sustainable consumption will need ‘tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for tourism including for energy, water, waste, biodiversity and job creation’. This will result in positive economic impacts, as well as additional preservation of the environment via lowering the impact of consumption.
13. Climate action
Tourism can both contribute to, or be affected by, climate change. This is one reason why sustainable tourism is so important. Sustainable tourism is able to affect change by introducing more responsible tourism activities and practices, which in turn reduces the footprint of tourism, thus contributing to a positive change.
14. Life below water
Coastal areas are a big draw on the tourism market. The need for healthy marine areas in these destinations is a necessity. Sustainable tourism efforts can contribute to the preservation of marine ecosystems as well as helping to establish environmentally friendlier tourism habits.
15. Life on land
Sustainable tourism and ecotourism efforts will contribute greatly to the Sustainable Development Goal of improving life on land. These efforts directly affect the preservation of national heritage, wilderness areas, culture as well as the employment of locals and directing of profits into the local communities.
16. Peace & justice
The cultural diversity involved in global tourism makes it possible for tourism to have a large part in promoting peace. Meeting other cultures, learning about the heritage, the history and the practices are a mainstay of tourism. Gaining an understanding of varying cultures is also necessary when considering what is needed to help bring peace in diversity.
17. Partnerships for the goals
Many of these Sustainable Development Goals are inter-reliant on each other, as far as tourism and sustainable tourism efforts are concerned. The tourism market has enough appeal that it is able to aid in the accomplishment of these goals, simply by appealing to the traveller. This high appeal makes it possible for private, public and governmental institutions to work together for the betterment of tourism, resulting in policy changes and financing possibilities which will aid in the achievement of these goals.
With all of this, making a change for the better seems not only possible, but entirely plausible! We travel because we love it. But with so many aspects of our sustainable travel contributing to the preservation of nature and betterment of communities around the world, it becomes clear that one really can make a big difference simply by being a sustainable traveler!
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