LONDON—Individually, members of the tourism industry are no more able to solve the world’s problems than members of any other business sector. However, the industry has significant potential to address issues and achieve positive outcomes for communities and the environment. This is the message in the October issue of greenhotelier magazine, which examines how the industry has begun to engage with sustainability issues and form different cross-sector partnerships to address them.
The article looks at the global issues that relate to the tourism industry and maintains that the partnership model of development is often the best way of delivering equitable and sustainable development, particularly in rural, coastal and mountain areas, which are often also ecologically fragile and have a range of social and economic challenges. Issues can be addressed through a variety of partnerships including multi-stakeholder partnerships, destination partnerships, NGO programs, industry initiatives and small local partnerships. Among the specific examples highlighted in case studies are:
• The track record of the IBLF Tourism Partnership in bringing together the private sector, academia and NGOs to provide practical solutions to issues such as poverty alleviation, sustainable hotel siting, design and construction, and sustainable hotel management.
• Industry partnerships such as the Tour Operators’ Initiative for Sustainable Tourism Development, the Ocean Conservation and Tourism Alliance which is promoting better cruise industry practice, and Sustainable Aviation, the U.K. coalition working to reduce the environmental impact of air travel.
• Jaisalmer in Jeopardy, a multi-stakeholder destination partnership that is restoring the remote and fragile historic city of Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, India.
• The Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism, now a leading player in The Gambia’s Responsible Tourism Partnership.
• The success of the Cornwall Sustainable Tourism Project Network in bringing about more sustainable tourism in Cornwall, U.K.
• How the Tourism Optimisation Management Model, which is protecting Kangaroo Island off South Australia, offers a model for replication in other destinations.
• The partnership-based work of the World Wildlife Fund to conserve marine turtles on a global scale.
The article concludes that there is still enormous scope for more to be done, particularly to address issues such as climate change, local economic empowerment, human rights and cultural understanding, biodiversity loss and natural resource use (particularly water). Nevertheless, frameworks now exist through which action can be taken and models that can be replicated elsewhere. Industry members need to work creatively with each other, with governments and other stakeholders to break down barriers to progress. Above all, there is a need for mechanisms both to monitor the effectiveness of measures and program and disseminate them more widely.