There are many ways in which sustainable tourism can be harnessed to sustain or restore cultural and natural heritage. Your video essay may focus on a specific instance of sustainable tourism or on global principles. Here are a few different examples of types of sustainable tourism you could discuss:
1) Sustainable Agricultural Tourism
Sustainable agricultural tourism, or agrotourism, has rapidly grown over the past twenty years. It can lead to the preservation of beautiful landscapes attractive to tourists (such as rice paddies in Bali, Indonesia; vineyards or lavender fields in France) while supporting more families and keeping them on the land. Additionally, it helps the environment by growing local goods for use in tourist resorts and restaurants, conserves natural resources, creates low-impact tourist activities, and provides income and employment for rural areas. Significantly, sustainable agrotourism is a good alternative to conventional, high consumption tourism.
Critics, however, argue that there are too many problems with agrotourism to strongly endorse it. First, there is no reliable regulation or certification to ensure farms are actually sustainable. It is easy to “greenwash” (or overemphasize one environmentally conscious aspect of their business, while glossing over their negative environmental impacts) sustainable agriculture sites. Furthermore, if tourist development is not carefully coordinated with the entire community, it can have negative environmental consequences. For example, even if the agricultural tourist destination itself is sustainable, the hotels built in town to support the farm could heavy polluters. Finally, some scholars argue that because most sustainable agriculture tourism is designed to attract foreigners who journey long distances, the environmental impact is still negative due to the pollution of travel. What do you think?
2) Cultural Authenticity and Preservation
Sustainable tourism often highlights the traditional culture of a country or region. For many tourists, this cultural engagement seems more “authentic” than conventional tourism and allows a unique type of personal engagement. A nation’s government will often define its cultural identity (like languages, religious beliefs, cultural norms, rituals and cuisine) to market and attract visitors. This can empty some cultural practices of meaning and decrease their relevance because of their exploitation for tourism. Is there a way to solve this problem?
3)Tourism and Sustainable Power Generation
Attracted to luxurious resorts, gorgeous environments and unique cultures, the tourism industry in Southeast Asia has flourished recently, bringing people from all over the world to the region. However, that tourism industry is highly dependent on a reliable and affordable energy supply and an unharmed ecosystem for tourists to enjoy. Currently, energy supply in islands is still dominated by fossil fuels and in particular, oil products. Because of this, the tourism sector, and thus whole economies that depend on it, are vulnerable to volatility in oil markets and negative externalities derived from fossil fuel use in fragile ecosystems.
In the facilities needed to sustain island tourism, energy services like air conditioning, lighting, cooking and heating are often provided by fossil fuels and diesel generators, and according to 2015 global electricity costs, the Pacific Islands face some of the highest in the world, placing an even higher emphasis on cutting costs and conserving energy. While diesel-powered generators are cheap, the cost of fuel imports is not, and high costs accompanied with oil spills, noise and air pollution and environmental damage, make fossil fuels costly for tourism businesses. In order to sustain the environment to keep tourism rates high, while reducing costs to continue operations, it appears the tourism industry in the south pacific requires a change.
One suggestion is using renewable energy, which comes in various flavors. Current popular models for reducing island dependence on fossil fuels is solar paneling. Converting energy from the sun into electricity, solar heat can provide power to water heating, air conditioning, and building power. Thus, solar panels could in theory replace diesel generators, providing a no-emissions, no-pollution alternative to dirty fossil fuel use.
While solar panels are one option for renewable sources of energy, they are certainly not the only one. Wind turbines and hydro-electric dams have also begun to rise in island economies, further eliminating dependencies on oil while decreasing the negative strain placed on ecosystems. While they all certainly have their benefits, it is not to say they are without flaws. Solar panels have been associated with high up-front costs, making them a difficult initial investment, while hydro-electric dams have been known to interrupt important river ecosystems, leading to soil erosion and eventually partial deforestation of some affected areas.
The principles of “permaculture”, though not designed to make an place more tourist-attractive, could offer guidelines to preserve a tourist destination and keep it in a state of positive interaction between external influences and native influences. Permaculture principles include:
-Observe and interact: By taking time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
-Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
-Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
-Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
-Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature's abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
-Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
-Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
-Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
-Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
-Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
-Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
-Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.