Published on : Monday, January 1, 2018
The Sustainable Tourism Index assesses countries on their commitment to develop and promote sustainable practices in tourism. It finds that, not surprisingly, the world’s developed countries have done more at the national level than their emerging-world rivals to formulate policy, foster adherence to recognised standards, encourage travel and tourism businesses to reduce their environmental footprint, co-ordinate efforts with NGOs and the private sector, and ensure protection of their cultural and historical assets. The index, sponsored by Chinese tourism conglomerate HNA, is the first of its kind to compare countries on their commitment to develop and promote sustainable practices in tourism.
The findings revealed that the European countries lead the index overall and in most domains. Of the ten countries included in the index, only France and Germany have taken concerted and sustained action at the national level to develop policy, set targets and monitor results.
The other findings in the Whitepaper stated that the developing countries will fall well short in policy implementation although they have shown greater awareness of sustainable tourism goals.
Index leaders in travel and tourism industry growth, China and India are also poised to make a huge impact on sustainability if they can complement their robust tourism sectors with comprehensive environmental- and cultural-protection policies. With stronger policy commitment and implementation, these and other developing countries can make a big contribution to the worldwide spread of sustainable tourism practices.
The degree of protection accorded to countries’ cultural and historical assets is one of the indicators in the socio-cultural sustainability category of the index, which is led by Japan.
Michael Gold, editor in charge of research programme, said: “Progress in sustainable tourism is ongoing in the emerging world, and will hopefully continue apace. “While the strong performance of developed nations is encouraging, as developing countries grow in prominence as tourism destinations, they will take on a greater role in driving sustainability in this field, worldwide.”
A strong and fast-developing tourism industry can indeed make a major contribution to sustainable tourism in a country by attracting more resources, raising awareness and providing financial support for industry players to achieve sustainable goals. Better travel and tourism infrastructure can also lead to improved energy and resource efficiency. There can be little question, however, that even if hotels, tourism operators and travel companies have made progress on sustainability without government intervention, such progress can be considerably greater if the authorities lend a hand.