Sustainable tourism, what it is and what the rules of an eco-holiday are

We often talk about sustainable tourism, and not always in its own right. Very often, in fact, we come across holidays that have very little to do with green.
sustainable tourism

We often talk about sustainable tourism, and not always in its own right. Very often, in fact, we come across holidays that have very little to do with green. Let’s find out what sustainable tourism really is and some proposals and ideas for practising it in the summer or throughout the year.

What is sustainable tourism: a definition

Sustainable tourism takes into account current and future economic, social and environmental impacts on the community and the environment visited. This, while trying to meet the needs of the traveller, and always respecting the environment and host communities.

The principles and management methods of sustainable tourism development can be applied to all forms of tourism and all types of destinations. Thus including mass tourism and more specialised forms of tourism.

How it works

Sustainable tourism is a philosophy directly inspired by sustainable development. It includes all forms of tourism that respect the environment and care for the wellbeing of the host populations. Responsible tourism must meet certain requirements, such as:

  • making optimal use of environmental resources, which are a key element of tourism development. Also, preserving essential ecological processes and contributing to the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity;

  • respecting the authenticity of host communities at a socio-cultural level. Thus preserving their cultural heritage and values;

  • ensure long-term sustainable economic activities by providing equitable socio-economic benefits to all stakeholders. Including stable employment and income opportunities, social services for host communities and contributing to poverty alleviation;

  • enabling tourists to enjoy interesting experiences while raising their awareness of the impact their trip has on the places they visit.


Sustainable tourism development requires the participation of all stakeholders and a strong political will to ensure broad participation and consensus. Ensuring the sustainability of tourism is a long process that requires constant monitoring of the impact travellers have on the local population and environment.

Types of sustainable tourism

There are different types of sustainable or responsible tourism. Which, let us remember, is a voluntary approach of the traveller or tour operator.

Travelling responsibly means minimising the impact on the environment and the local way of life. Let us look at the main ones:

  • Community tourism: community tourism is a form of tourism in which hospitality is entirely managed by local populations;

  • Slow Tourism: consists of discovering a destination at one’s own pace. More than a form of tourism, this movement is a real way of life that meets the local populations and goes off the beaten track;

  • Fair Tourism: a concept directly inspired by fair trade, fair tourism allows for a fairer return for local communities;

  • Participatory tourism: its objective is to build relationships between the host populations and the traveller. It reinvents hospitality by making the traveller actively participate in local life;

  • Ecotourism: respects the environment and the wellbeing of people, is practised exclusively in the natural environment and should be a sustainable source of funding for host communities;

  • Solidarity-based tourism: allows for the creation of a bond of solidarity between the traveller and the populations. A financial contribution from the traveller or tour operator is donated to local development projects. Local communities are stakeholders in these projects whose objective is to improve their living conditions;

  • Agrotourism: sustainable tourism in agricultural environments. It is practised in different ways: staying overnight in a room, visiting the property, tasting typical products. Its objective is to facilitate the meeting with the producer and to perpetuate their activity by allowing them to diversify;

  • Humanitarian tourism: an ethical and sustainable stay that participates in improving the living conditions of local populations. Passing on knowledge and contributing to local development are all tasks in which tourists are encouraged to participate.

The rules of the sustainable tourist

Let us look in detail at the golden rules of the eco-tourist:

  • visit areas of great naturalistic interest such as: the temperate jungle of South America, the Snow Forest in Siberia, the African forest of the great primates, the boreal forests of Northern Europe, the Amazon rain forest, the Paradise forests of the Pacific islands, the Great Bear Forest in North America;

  • practice birdwatching and whalewatching only with qualified operators;

  • do not, under any circumstances, purchase endangered species of animals such as: coral, elephants, turtles, rhinoceroses, bears, monkeys, whales, certain tropical birds;

  • avoid, unless strictly necessary, the use of aeroplanes, preferring means of transport with a lower environmental impact such as trains and ships. On holiday, there is nothing better than walking or cycling;

  • prefer shops and restaurants that use organic products;

  • for walkers, practice low-impact walking, not disturbing animals, and not abandoning non-biodegradable objects;

  • always practise the separate collection of waste produced.

By observing these simple but important rules it will be possible to ensure a responsible holiday.

Read also: More and more people choose not to fly: what is the “flight shaming” movement

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