Sustainable tourism: Tourism will never be completely sustainable as every industry has impacts, but it can work towards becoming more sustainable.


As more regions and countries develop their tourism industry, it produces significant impacts on natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems. The need for sustainable/responsible planning and management is imperative for the industry to survive as a whole.



  • International tourist arrivals have increased from 25 million globally in 1950, to 278 million in 1980, 527 million in 1995, and  1.32 billion in 2017. They are expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030.
  • The average international tourist receipt is over US$700 per person and travellers spent over $1.4 trillion
  • Travel and tourism represents approximately 10% of total global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016 (if it include tourism related business (e.g. catering, cleaning) (US $7 trillion).
  • The global travel and tourism industry creates approximately 11% of the world’s employment (direct & indirect) in 2016.
  • At least 25 million people spread over 52 countries are displaced by violence, persecution and/or disasters – tourism receipts in every country are affected by this.
  • Leakage in tourism is as high as 80% in the Caribbean (of every dollar earned in tourism-80 cents leaves the country)

Sustaining Tourism video


  • 10,000 people arrive in the Mayan Riviera every day – a destination where there is still no proper recycling
  • Although the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas recycles its water – it still uses 12 million litres of water per year in a water scarce region
  • Buying local could achieve a 4-5% reduction in GHG emissions due to large sources of C02 and non C02 emissions during the production of food.
  • The average Canadian household used 326 litres of water per day….a village of 700 in a developing country uses an average of 500 litres of water per month AND a luxury hotel room guest uses 1800 litres of water per person per night…
  • The average person in the UK uses approximately 150 litres of water per day – 3 times that of a local village in Asia
  • garbageA species of animal or plant life disappears at a rate of one every three minutes
  • 70% of marine mammals are threatened
  • The Western world (with 17% of the worlds’ population) currently consumes 52% of total global energy.
  • 1 acre of trees absorbs 2. 6tonnes of CO2 per year
  • More than 80% of the worlds coral reefs are at risk. Nearly 2/3 of Caribbean reefs are in jeopardy and it is reported that 90% of coral reefs will die by 2050
  • Eating beef is the most water consumptive practice by travellers
  • 2016 was the warmest year by margin on record
  • Seawater is expected to rise 70 cm in the next 10 years
  • By 2050 climate change could have directly led to the extinction of 30% of species, the death of 90% of coral reefs and the loss of half the Amazon rainforest.
  • Since 1970 a third of the natural world has been destroyed by human activity. Almost 2/3 are degraded by human activity
  • Half the world’s population lives in urban areas and this figure is expected to increase. In Latin America and the Caribbean, 76% of the population live in urban areas.IMG_0033_2
  • 9% of the worlds coral reefs are in the Caribbean – most under threat
  • 35% of mangroves have been destroyed
  • The number of cars on the road surpassed 1 billion in 2010. Today it is 1.2 billion and will be 2 billion by 2035
  • A European uses 14x more energy than someone living in India
  • For every 1 degree rise in temperature above 34 degrees Celsius, yields of rice, maize and wheat in tropical areas could drop by 10%
  • Every year we dump 40 million tons of carbon pollution into our atmosphere
  • Although 70% of the earth’s surface is water, only 3% is potable.

Sources: World Resources Institute Reefs at Risk, 2013,  WTO, 2000, & 2002, UNWTO, 2015, NCDC, 2015,, 2004, UN, 2003, Gov’t of Canada, 2005, Tourism Concern, 2011, Green Car Reports, 2014, Science Museum, 2010)


Although not everything depends on tourism, tourism depends on almost everything. Sustainable tourism is about re-focusing and adapting. A balance must be found between limits and usage so that continuous changing, monitoring and planning ensure that tourism can be managed. This requires thinking long-term (10, 20+ years) and realizing that change is often cumulative, gradual and irreversible. Economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable development must include the interests of all stakeholders including indigenous people, local communities, visitors, industry and government.


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