2017 has been declared as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations, which should promote a change in politics, business practices and customer behaviour to foster a more sustainable tourism sector.
Sustainable tourism is committed to the environment and to the autochthonous culture, seeking to produce the least possible impact on these, while at the same time contributing to generating income and employment for the local population.
The World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism 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 commemoration is a great opportunity to analyse how tourism is affected by climate change, to advance in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the sector, and to increase efforts at adapting to the inevitable impacts of global warming.
Every year, more than one billion tourists travel across the world, generating jobs and resources for millions of people. Tourism is a crucial sector for the economies of developed and developing countries both on a local and national level.
Having a stable climate is fundamental for the correct development of tourism, above all other sectors of activity. The tourism sector is suffering the increasingly serious effects of climate change, such as storms, heat waves, droughts, a rising sea level that threatens coastal resorts and a lack of snow that is affecting ski stations.
The World Tourism Organization deems that “tourism is responsible for 5 percent of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Of this percentage, the carbon footprint of hotel establishments makes up 20% of the total, including heating and air conditioning, refrigeration in bars, restaurants and heated swimming pools.”
Transport for tourism reasons whether by plane, car or train generates the sector’s largest percentage of emissions. It is important to point out that transport emissions can be reduced by prioritising the use of trains for continental journeys.
We need to become aware and act to improve all the negative aspects affecting those of us who work in the tourism sector, with each of us making a commitment to our future.
I wish you all a very happy holiday period. We’ll be back in September!