Sustainable/responsible tourism and its consequences

The birth of the sustainable/responsible tourism

The problem of the sustainability of tourism has started to be discussed from the years ‘70s of the 20th century, as a consequence of 3 elements:

  • the enormous growing of the mass tourism and the increasing use for tourism of areas and sites in the not-Western countries;
  • the increasing diffusion of the myth of tourism as an ever-positive development tool versus the increasing damages created by the tourism in environment, cultures, ethics, etc.
  • the increasing environmental and ethnocultural conscience in some sectors of the developed countries population and especially among the not-Western people, with important fights against the negative consequences of the “normal” tourism.

Sustainable Tourism means organizing and making Tourism applying the Sustainable Development principles as UN identified them: “Development satisfying the present needs without compromising for the future generations the possibility to satisfy their own needs”; Responsible Tourism is a Sustainable Tourism that respect the human beings and cultures, avoiding any form of violence (sex-tourism, cultural and bio-piracy, discrimination, damaging in any way ethnocultural identity, etc.) and promote the positive human and intercultural relations within the tourism and through tourism; recently the concept of Sustainable Tourism has fully included that of Responsible Tourism.

At the beginning, the idea of Sustainable Tourism has been build on a cross between ecological concepts and ethics ones, so it was mainly a form of militant opposition to the “normal tourism”, carried out by restricted groups of “alternative people”. During the years, an evolution of the practices and of the concepts has produced 3 different phenomena:

  • a growing number of real Sustainable Tourism experiences with a growing number of tourist, but with a lack of network logic among different sites, experiences, countries;
  • a growing number of so-called “sustainable tourism” experiences that exploit this label as other labels (ecotourism, cultural tourism, pro-poor tourism, etc.) without corresponding really to the principles;
  • a multiplication of the offers concerning chippings of reality (“wine tourism”, “food tourism”, “green tourism”, “ethno-tourism”, “memory tourism”, “musical tourism”, etc.) each one without links with the others, and a growing confusion in a sort of “good tourism supermarket”.

For the Council of Europe nature magazine Naturopa, Sustainable Tourism means “any form of tourism activity preserving at long term natural, cultural and social resources”; so it’s includes the same concept of Responsible Tourism and it is referred no more only/especially to the environmental aspects but also to the social and ethnocultural ones. Basing really on the UN and UE concepts, each one (Local Institutions, NGOs, tourist operators, food producers, Museum representatives, Local leaders, Trade Unions, artists, migrants, Environmental Associations, etc.) can be an actor to contribute in developing a real Sustainable Tourism if a “networking approach” is used, focusing more attention to the links among actors, elements, phenomena, actions than on the chippings of the reality.

For UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization). Sustainable Tourism can be defined as:
"Tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities"

This is a universal consideration, but in the case of the Mediterranean reality it’s a more important model, because the main source of development, richness, progress in any aspect (culture, economy, art, wellness, etc.) for Mediterranean Basin has been and can/should be the “networking reality” of the links among the cultures of the Mediterranean people.

Involved Countries


Live Your Tour - Salento e Natura

The TDA LYT-Salento Nature never ends to amaze


Live Your Tour - Andalucia

Guadalquivir, we are talking about culture, we are building the future


Live Your Tour - Bekaa Tourism Network - Lebanon
Live Your Tour - Tourism in Al Chouf

The sun of the cities, the valley of generosity, & the moon swing


Live Your Tour - Beja & Bizerte

Nature, Culture, History: from Vaga to Hippo Zarytus the charm of a millenary heritage

This website has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union under the ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme.
The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of Live Your Tour-Consortium and its members, and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union or of the Programme’s management structures.