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Guiding Principle #6:

Reduce tourism's burden

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Account for all tourism costs in terms of local tax burdens, environmental and social impacts, and objectively verifiable disruption. Ensure investments are linked to optimizing net-positive impacts for communities and the environment.

Sustaining the appeal of a destination starts with ensuring all the "costs" of tourism on a destination are understood and covered. For destinations, that may range from excessive water use and waste generation by tourists, to strains on the food supply chain, to the real-estate market, to residents’ patience. Wear and tear on irreplaceable heritage sites must be avoided or counteracted, and growth in crime prevented. Tourism should be a benefit to the local communities, and not displace them from tourism hubs. The care of fragile ecosystems should always be at the heart of management decisions, ensuring tourism infrastructure is additive and not destructive.

Real life examples:

  1. How a heritage town in India professionally managed to segregate waste and became a litter-free destination within a span of a few years

  2. Developing soft mobility was seen as a solution to fight the threats of overtourism and respond to the need for preservation of Baie de Somme, France.

  3. How a Taiwanese island has harmonized ecological carrying capacity and local economics

The questions we should ask to further achieve this principle:

  • Are we measuring tourism’s impacts on the destination on an ongoing basis? 

  • Is tourism benefiting or harming communities, wildlife, resources, heritage sites, etc. What are the most pressing issues?

  • What are we doing to address our negative impacts?

  • How many visitors can the destination handle? (Are waste management systems and energy infrastructure sufficient? How are residents and ecosystems impacted by the number of visitors?)

Further resources: 

The Invisible Burden of Tourism Report - published by the Travel Foundation, Cornell University’s Centre for Sustainable Global Enterprise, and EplerWood International

Cruise Tourism in the Caribbean: Selling Sunshine. (2019). This CREST study explores the lessons learned from half a century of Caribbean cruise tourism; one of the most popular and profitable sectors of the tourism industry. Originally released in Spanish in 2018, the book considers the limited economic benefits of cruise tourism, its environmental and social impacts, and the effects of climate change, and overtourism.

Por el Mar de las Antillas: 50 Anos de Turismo de Cruceros en el Caribe  (Issues Topics, 2018): This study by the Center for Responsible Tourism (CREST) ​​on "lessons learned" from 50 years of large-scale cruise tourism was officially launched in April 2018 during an event in Havana, Cuba. Published in Spanish.

GSTC Destination Criteria

SECTION A: Sustainable management

 A(a) Management structure and framework

   A3 Monitoring and reporting

SECTION B: Socio-economic sustainability

 B(a) Delivering local economic benefits

   B1 Measuring the economic contribution of tourism

   B3 Supporting local entrepreneurs and fair trade

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