Mass Tourism Vs. Sustainable Tourism
As extreme traveler and sustainable tourism advocate Jean-Philippe Platroz says, we as a society “cannot continue to develop mass tourism.”
This seems like a radical statement. Especially with the consistent popularity (and convenience) of cruise liners, hotel tour packages, and international beach parties. In fact, mass tourism has doubled in twenty years despite the economic crisis.
However, travel experts are now claiming that sustainable tourism is the growing alternative.
What is sustainable tourism?
Sustainable tourism is simple. It means that travelers have low impact on the environment, while providing local communities with a consistent livelihood. It’s the considerate way to travel.
There are many ways to participate in sustainable tourism. Visit.org promotes social impact travel. This is a kind of sustainable tourism that exists in both developed and developing countries.
At Visit.org, do-good organizations host all of our immersive cultural activities. In turn, these orgs keep 100% of host revenue to reinvest in their various missions. This includes environmental, humanitarian, and social causes.
What makes mass tourism harmful?
The key word is mass. In the last 70 years, the number of international tourists has grown from 25 million to 1.1 billion. When many tourists are converged in a certain location, cultural conflict may occur. While not all mass tourists are uninformed, those who are may easily offend local codes of behavior. Here are some common problems that mass tourists bring:
- Ignoring local dress code, such as revealing too much skin
- Eroding the local language by relying too much on mother language
- Failing to behave in the proper way in places of worship
- Public intoxication
- Being rude or condescending to local people
Mass tourism doesn’t hold travelers accountable for these actions. Its main goal is to generate revenue. As a result, mass tourists tend to enter new cultures without adequate preparation.
Who benefits from mass tourism?
Although the travel industry is a multi-trillion dollar one, local communities don’t often reap its rewards. In fact, only 5% of its generated income stays in local hands. Most of it goes to transnational corporations.
Though convenient, most all-inclusive tour packages are not what they appear to be. Sadly, about 80% of the cost goes to airlines, hotels, and other non-local companies.
Meanwhile, with social impact travel companies like Visit.org, 100% of host revenue stays with the locals.
What are the benefits of sustainable tourism?
Sustainable tourism is the future of travel! Admittedly, it is not yet in the mainstream. However, Visit.org is working so that by 2025, every travel itinerary will include at least one half-day social impact travel experience. The benefits:
- Authenticity. Travelers don’t just check off destinations on their list, they also connect with locals and get to know the place they are visiting.
- Community involvement. Locals are involved with the tour operation. Their engagement ensures the activity benefits the people and their land.
- Employment. Sustainable tourism projects create jobs locally. This means young people are less likely to leave home to look for work.
- Cultural preservation. Community members get involved as tour guides, vendors, hosts, or performers. Thus, local culture will be celebrated and protected.
- Environmental restoration. Locals and travelers will learn how to interact with nature in a low impact way. Eco-conscious builders create infrastructure around the protection of wildlife and its habitat.