Sustainable tourism engages destinations and people in green travel

By implementing simple waste reduction and energy-saving strategies, tourism industry businesses can contribute to sustainability.

Michigan’s tourism industry continues to see success with the Pure Michigan marketing campaign in attracting visitors from outside the state to experience the wonder and beauty of the two peninsulas. Visitors travel here, stay and return again.

With an increase in visitors comes an increase in attention to the long-term impact tourism has on the economy, environment, culture and natural resources enjoyed and shared by travelers and local communities across the state. Sustainable tourism has emerged internationally as an approach to tourism that achieves economic growth in the industry while minimizing negative environmental, social and cultural impacts.

Sustainable tourism strategies can enhance the character of a place, its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the wellbeing of its residents. It fosters interest among travelers to build a relationship with the place they are visiting – with the local culture, the people and the natural environment.

Vancouver Island University, British Columbia, Canada has available a publication called “Made in BC: Innovation in Sustainable Tourism.” The report offers tourism vendors, businesses and planners insights and examples of concrete strategies they can employ that lead to sustainable tourism practices and impacts.

Sustainable tourism does not need to be advertised as such in order to be effective. Research indicates that tourist destinations can boost profitability by employing simple strategies such as adopting general environmental principles such as recycling waste and encouraging travelers/guests to participate in energy saving activities.

The achievement of sustainable tourism depends in part on providing incentives for travel-related businesses to reduce any negative environmental or cultural impacts. However, businesses that invent their own creative sustainable solutions may brand their businesses in a way that attracts travelers who want to support low impact travel. Ultimately, success hinges on engaging travelers to appreciate and participate in preservation of the natural environment and culture they have come to visit and enjoy.