Mr. Wu’s Blog on Sustainable Tourism
In a report on tourism in SIDS released prior to Rio+20, titled Challenges and Opportunities for Tourism in Small Island Developing States
, UNWTO finds that the number of international tourists visiting SIDS reached 41 million in 2011. The annual revenue generated by international tourism in SIDS exceeded US$ 38 billion. For some SIDS, tourism accounts for over 40% of GDP, and 50 % to 75% of exports of services. In an Annex to the Nassau Declaration on Tourism for Sustainable Development in Island States, held earlier this year in the Bahamas, UNWTO further noted that in terms of economic impact, inbound tourism expenditure amounts to more than 20% of GDP in two fifths of the SIDS where data is available. Indeed, recent IMF missions to SIDS consistently find that where there is growing revival of tourism in the aftermath of the global economic crisis, there is growing momentum for economic recovery, leading to improved fiscal stance, more social spending, and balanced budget of those SIDS.
However, contributions of tourism to GDP can be diminished by leakages of foreign exchange earnings due to imports of materials and equipment for construction, imports of consumer goods, and repatriation of profits earned by foreign investors. Policy makers in SIDS thus face the challenge of integrating tourism with national sustainable development, with an emphasis on strengthening inter-linkages of tourism with local economies, including local infrastructure building and local supply chains, and job creation.
From the social perspective, tourism can also generate significant benefits for local communities in SIDS. Tourism can promote social development through its impact on job creation, income redistribution and poverty alleviation. Also, improvements in infrastructure can spill over into the rest of the SIDS economy, leading to more services, such as improved access to transport, electricity, water and sanitation. At the same time, tourism can introduce social and cultural changes in SIDS communities, as international tourists may exhibit unsustainable consumption behaviour and life styles not in harmony with local cultures, etc.
The annual revenue generated by international tourism in SIDS exceeded US$ 38 billion.
Unsustainable tourism may cause overcrowding and pressure on local infrastructure and services, and on fragile local ecosystems.
UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General
Secretary-General for the Third International Conference on SIDS
Tourism can also pose environmental challenges. Unsustainable tourism may cause overcrowding and pressure on local infrastructure and services, and on fragile local ecosystems. Indiscriminate tourism development can encourage intensive or inappropriate land use and contribute to coastal zone degradation. Disposal of liquid and solid wastes generated by the tourism industry may also strain the capacity of local infrastructure to treat the additional wastes generated by tourism activities.
To mitigate these economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts, SIDS governments have relied on sustainable tourism, while taking into account local carrying capacity for tourism. In the draft outcome document of the SIDS Conference, Member States have proposed a number of measures to promote sustainable tourism in SIDS, including through developing and implementing policies that promote responsive, responsible, resilient and sustainable tourism inclusive of all peoples in SIDS; diversifying sustainable tourism through products and services with positive economic, social and environmental impacts and the development of eco- , agro-, and cultural tourism; and designing and implementing participatory measures to enhance employment opportunities, while conserving the natural, built and cultural heritage of SIDS.