Nedo Pinezić: Sustainable tourism - the only possible development of tourism

By force of circumstances, the development of tourism is returning to the principles on which it began to develop almost 200 years ago as a general human need

Author  Nedo Pinezić

2. September 2022.

Definition and principles of sustainable tourism development

The concept of sustainable development appeared in the scientific and professional literature in the eighties of the 20th century when, according to the definition of the World Council on Environment and Development (World Commission on Environment and Development – ​​WCED) sees it as "development that meets the needs of the present generation without reducing the ability of future generations to meet their needs" (WCED, 1987).

In other words, sustainable development promotes controlled growth, maximum conservation and rational use of resources, with the aim of ensuring long-term economic and social development.

The concept of sustainable development is particularly emphasized in the tourism sector, where it is seen as a harmonization of economic, sociological and ecological perspectives, with the aim of promoting economic prosperity, environmental protection and socio-cultural identity and ensuring the quality of life of the local community. The World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism as "tourism that fully takes into account current and future economic, social and environmental effects, takes care of the needs of visitors, sectors, the environment and the destination" (UNWTO, 2020).

Sustainable tourism requires the informed participation of all relevant stakeholders, as well as strong political leadership. Achieving the sustainability of tourism is a permanent process that requires constant monitoring of effects, introduction of necessary preventive and/or corrective measures. To provide a valuable experience to tourists, sustainable tourism must maintain a high level of tourist satisfaction, while simultaneously raising awareness of sustainability and promoting the practice of sustainable tourism among them.

According to UNWTO guidelines, the development of sustainable tourism must include concrete measures, the most important of which are the following:

  • Economical, responsible and sustainable use of all natural resources that make up the key elements of tourism development;
  • Preservation of elementary ecological processes and concerns for the preservation of natural wealth and biodiversity;
  • Respect for the socio-cultural authenticity of the host community, preservation of the inherited and built culture of living of the local community;
  • Preservation of cultural wealth and traditional values ​​of the local community;
  • Contribution to intercultural understanding and tolerance;
  • Planning economic effects for a long period while providing socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders of the tourist destination with a fair distribution of them;
  • Planning stable employment and stable income opportunities from tourism as well as the benefits of the social standard through social services to all community hosts;
  • Contribution to the fight against poverty.

The direction of sustainable tourism has been particularly strongly promoted in the past few years under the pressure of increasing investments in tourist buildings, the great pressure of the mass of tourists on well-known, attractive tourist destinations and the already evident effects of global warming.

Negative influence of large capital

Until now, the direction of sustainable tourism development was only declaratively emphasized, and in practice it was bypassed under the influence of big capital. In other words, sustainable tourism was only a marginal phenomenon with the potential for constant growth. However, since the emergence and spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which was first mentioned in the scientific literature in December 2019 (Hua and Shaw, 2020), sustainable tourism is suddenly becoming potentially the only possible development of tourism in the short term.

Sustainable tourism is no longer just a desirable direction of development, it is the only possible tourism. This becomes more and more clear to us, especially after COP26 sessions in Glasgow.

Tourism is not sustainable if it is not based on the preservation of the natural environment and the culture of the local population. One of the areas that is threatened by the current way of developing tourism is the Adriatic - Ionian area. This area of ​​the Mediterranean is extremely rich in cultural diversity of local communities and natural phenomena.

The coastline of the Adriatic-Ionian region is under strong pressure from investment capital. It is perhaps the largest construction site in Europe. In order to slow down and stop the negative trends of uncontrolled urbanization and devastation of the natural environment, we need a new approach to tourism development.

A new approach to tourism development

Sustainable tourism becomes a platform for the sustainable development of rural communities. The lifestyle of the local community, preserved environment, cultural heritage, are the main reasons for the growth of interest of tourists in an area. The new approach to the development of tourism begins by putting the people, the residents of the local community, first. First we have to get to know the people, their skills and the ability to interact with visitors. The focus is on putting all existing resources into operation. The most successful is the development of tourism in which people continue to live their lifestyle and readily invite tourists to join them.

Slowbalisation - "Slowbalisation"

"Slowbalisation" is a new term coined as counterbalance to globalization. We want to emphasize that the time has come to slow down the globalization process. The new approach to the development of tourism goes in the direction of "slowbalisation": employ local/local people, use local/local, buy local/local. Tourist arrivals are more concentrated regionally, continentally (smaller CO2 footprint, more flexible travel due to the pandemic). Arriving by train is being used again, and more and more by hybrid and e-cars. When planning accommodation capacities, all existing accommodation capacities are put into operation first, and only then is the construction of new ones planned, but according to "eco friendly" principles.

Development of sustainable tourism

The development of sustainable tourism in an area is a painstaking and long-term job. Such development requires a balanced influence of the local community, the non-governmental sector, local, regional and state authorities, micro, small and medium-sized private enterprises and all other stakeholders of the local community. Investment capital from outside is welcome, but only if it adheres to the generally accepted rules of sustainable development and the development plan of the local community.

The main emphasis in the development of sustainable tourism they are placed on accommodation, gastronomy, food production, activities in nature, then on natural attractions and cultural and historical monuments and the lifestyle of the local community. We call everything together experience tourism, the local population is included in everything as a priority.

Thus, by force of circumstances, the development of tourism returns to the principles on which it began to develop almost 200 years ago as a general human need.

Author Nedo Pinezić,

Author  Nedo Pinezić

2. September 2022.