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  • Community Sense of Place Community Sense of Place Tourism Impacts and Second Home Development: A Sustainable Approach
  • Climate, Weather, and Tourism Climate, Weather, and Tourism Tourism destinations and their individual tourism businesses are all vying for tourists at their respective locations.
  • Engagement and Community Engagement and Community In partnership with the Office of Engagement, Innovation, and Economic Development.
  • Rural Tourism Rural Tourism Sustaining rural America is one of today's pressing issues.
  • RESET RESET Race, Ethnicity, and Social Equity in Tourism
  • US Travel Care Code US Travel Care Code The United States Travel Care Code has been developed and is managed by the Center for Sustainable Tourism.
  • RETI RETI The Renewable Energy in Tourism Initiative
  • Tourism and Entrepreneurship Tourism and Entrepreneurship Developing the local tourism industry as part of an economic development strategy.

What is Sustainable Tourism?

Sustainability is a growing trend in all industries and is now finding its way into mainstream tourism. The increasing popularity of sustainability has led to differing understandings of what sustainability really means, so to help clarify for industry professionals, the Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University has developed a working definition that includes "actions that contribute to a balanced and healthy economy by generating tourism-related jobs, revenues, and taxes while protecting and enhancing the destination's socio-cultural, historical, natural and built resources for the enjoyment and well-being of both residents and visitors."

The following twelve categories are offered for consideration where you might incorporate sustainability within your tourism business, in developing government policy, or in your personal life. Within each category you will also find a list of specific actions in sustainable practices for both lodging and food service. We would like to acknowledge the staff of Sustainable Travel International (STI) for the development of many of these items as well as their permission to use this information for informational purposes. Please visit www.sustainabletravelinternational.org for further information and a list of their services.

Sustainable Tourism Criteria

1. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Management and Reduction

Air and ground transportation alone are two of the largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions effecting global climate change. By decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, you can reduce global warming and promote energy independence from foreign non-renewable sources. Click below to see the practices for your given industry.

2. Solid Waste Management, Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling

By minimizing the amount of solid waste that goes to landfills and incinerators, you can reduce negative environmental impacts. Most importantly, minimizing waste will limit the amount of greenhouse gases that are released throughout a product’s life cycle of extraction, manufacturing, distribution, use and disposal.

3. Freshwater Consumption Reduction

It is often stated that water will become the most sought-after natural resource of the 21st Century. Water scarcity is already a reality throughout the world. Reducing your level of water consumption will help reduce your operating costs while helping conserve this precious resource.

4. Wastewater Management

Conserving water not only means reducing consumption, but also maintaining and monitoring the quality of the water we put back into the environment. The purpose of wastewater management is to protect aquatic ecosystems and increase the availability of potable water for human consumption and use.

5. Energy Efficiency, Conservation, and Management

By investing in renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, hydro, and thermal power and integrating energy efficiency practices into your operations, you can reduce greenhouse gases. Integrating energy efficiency practices into your operations will help conserve natural resources and reduce operational costs by 10-20%, providing a quick return for taking simple actions.

6. Ecosystem and Biodiversity Conservation

Business activities undoubtedly affect our ecosystems and biodiversity. Biodiversity provides us with life-sustaining systems such as clean air, productive ecosystems, fresh water, and fertile soil. We also depend on healthy, diverse gene pools for our understanding of medicine and science and for our own survival. Ecosystem and biodiversity conservation helps to maintain the delicate ecological balance of the planet.

7. Land Use Planning and Management

Establishing land use planning strategies and management plans in conjunction with stakeholders will help to reshape and guide community land use decisions toward sustainability and quality of life, benefiting everyone. Exercising your influence to protect the environment and enhance the well-being of local communities through land use planning and management will help to ensure your business positively impacts both.

8. Air Quality Protection and Noise Reduction

We’re all exposed to environmental pollutants and related health risks almost every day of our lives. Though some risks are almost unavoidable, by ensuring that your air is clean and that your noise levels do not adversely affect others, you can take action to address the less visible impacts your business may have on its surroundings.

9. Preserving the Social Norms and Cultures of Local and Indigenous Communities

Socio-cultural sustainability is achieved when businesses make a concerted effort to work with local people to maintain and protect the social structures as well as the cultures of the local communities where they operate. The best way to find out what impacts you are having on the local community where your business operates is to create opportunities for them to provide you with feedback.

10. Providing Economic Benefits to Local and Indigenous Communities

Economic sustainability is achieved in part when businesses actively contribute to the economic well-being of the local communities where they operate without adversely affecting other aspects of local people’s lives. Tourism has the potential to support community development by providing jobs, educational and professional training opportunities, health care, and environmental stewardship.

11. Responsible Purchasing

One of the most powerful ways you and your business can help make the world a better place is to vote with your dollars through responsible purchasing. Responsible purchasing, also known as green purchasing and environmentally preferable purchasing, includes buying locally produced products and services from locally owned businesses as well as purchasing products that have a reduced environmental impact.

12. Training and Education for Employees and Clients

Educating your customers and training your employees is a critical component to achieving your goals and objectives. By educating customers and training employees on the current sustainability policies and the related goals and objectives, you are improving your chances for a successful sustainability management system. Both the employees and the clients need to understand what your actions are, why they are important, and how they can positively contribute to your overall sustainability effort.

Sustainable Tourism | What is Sustainable Tourism

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