Sustainable Tourism

Sustainable Tourism – A Generational Milestone

The world since 2020 has been changing rapidly, and we all need to adapt to survive, corporate and public strategies across the globe have been focusing on more digital and sustainable reforms. Could we transform our world by 2030 and achieve the goals in the United Nations agenda for sustainable development? Think about how the war in Ukraine will shift the European Union’s energy strategy for the next decade and the impacts on our lives.

We live in an era where resources are more expensive than ever, and some locations around the globe are facing dangerous dry years. At this stage in life, we should be more concerned about our home (Planet Earth), regardless of our beliefs, we need to be more sustainable as a mindset/strategy, because it will rapidly change the economy and our lifestyle in the upcoming decades.

The tourism industry at this stage needs to play an important role to lead in protecting the environment and the local culture, communities as a 360 degrees strategy, to have an honest and impactful footprint in the world. The World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism as follows: “Sustainable tourism development meets the needs of present tourists and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities for the future” this is quite an opaque definition and ambiguous. We should be even more determined than ever to protect the wildlife, natural resources, environment. The main goal of sustainable tourism is to balance the economic and social advantages of tourism investments/developments while reducing or mitigating any non-positive impacts on the destination. In fairness, I honestly believe we are on the right track with positive case studies around the globe.

The impact of the tourism industry on the global economy is around 10% GDP, it’s a significant revenue stream for all the countries in the world. We all know the negative impact of covid-19 in the tourism value chain and all the sustainable processes were delayed. Still, the industry’s resilience is expected to recover this summer 2022. However, the current global crisis due to inflation, oil prices, political instability is an opportunity to rethink all the corporate business models and government strategies to achieve the UN 2030 sustainable goals. We all remember the global tourism boom before march/2020 that led the industry to volumes and practices that challenged all the sustainable practices (overcrowded beaches and cultural areas, and many others). This is not a standalone objective, we all need to be part of the solution to have different tourism and a better society.

Portugal, is one of the biggest “powerhouses” in the EU for the Tourism Industry, indeed we are committed to the cause with the 2027 Tourism Strategy plan to reinforce that tourism is not an industry but a social transformation hub. Honestly I believe this industry has the power to change the world and unite countries with dignity, equality and peace. Due to our dimension as a country, we could lead the world as the best-case study regarding sustainable practices; this is not a science movie fiction. Can you imagine Portugal being the 1st country in the world to be 100% sustainable for the tourism industry? We need to aim to the stars and aspire to start reforming our economy and education model for the next twenty years. It’s more than a trend our following UN or EU commitments. It’s an entirely different mindset that can help boost our economy and reaffirm Portugal as a modern society in the TIER1 innovators. This should be our ambition as a nation, let me give you some good examples from the world smart cities forum: Albania, Iceland, Norway, and Paraguay have almost all of their electricity from renewable energies (Albania and Paraguay 100% from hydroelectricity, Iceland 72% hydro and 28% geothermal and Norway obtains nearly all its electricity from renewable sources around 97% from hydropower). This is a long-term vision and commitment for tourism and our society, but we are the drivers of change. Indeed this will require vast amounts of data, investments in infrastructures and public subsidies to be a game-changer, we all need to be part of the solution to innovate a net-zero tourism roadmap.

The decisions of today will define the future of tomorrow!

By André Oliveira
Director of Sales Ontravel Solutions