Overtourism and sustainable tourism become operative words for tourists

 Saturday, September 28, 2019 


The term “overtourism” is so new that it still does not appear in most dictionaries though it was shortlisted as a Word of the Year in 2018. But the novelty of the term has not diminished the impact of its meaning in any way. “An excessive number of tourist visits to a popular destination or attraction, resulting in damage to the local environment and historical sites and in poorer quality of life for residents,” is the definition of the term according to the Oxford Dictionary shortlist.


The UN World Tourism Organisation, along with public and private sector partners, has declared September 27 as World Tourism Day and uses this platform to discuss tourism’s social, political, economic, and environmental impacts.


Sustainable tourism has emerged as a framework for engaging travellers and the travel industry at large in supporting goals that include protecting the environment, addressing climate change, minimising plastic consumption, and expanding economic development in communities affected by tourism.


A new National Geographic survey of 3,500 adults in the U.S. reveals strong support for sustainability. That’s the good news. According to the survey, while 42 percent of U.S. travellers would be willing to prioritise sustainable travel in the future, only 15 percent of these travellers are sufficiently familiar with what sustainable travel actually means.
National Geographic Expeditions offers a range of group travel experiences, including land expeditions, cruises, and active adventures, many of which take place around a collection of eco-lodges that are rigorously vetted for their sustainability practices. Unique Lodges of the World are selected for commitment to incorporating innovative sustainability practices into their everyday operations, including supporting natural and cultural heritage, sourcing products locally, and giving back to the local community.


“The best properties in the world are built with a mission to help protect people and the environment,” says O’Shannon Burns, National Geographic sustainability director who works with the lodges. “When guests have firsthand experiences supporting these efforts, they come away wanting to help preserve and protect the places they’ve been to. To me that’s the most National Geographic thing we can do: support what’s best about our planet, it’s places, people, and communities.”


A goal of the survey is to inform the travel and tourism industry about what sustainability issues are most important to travellers and how they are willing to support those initiatives. “The travel industry is more dependent than most industries on the health of local communities, environments, and cultures,” says Knell. “We are looking at a population of 10 billion by 2050 and that is going to take a massive toll on our resources. To continue to have authentic travel experiences, we need to invest in the resiliency of places affected by overtourism and climate change.”


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