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„Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development“ is this year’s motto for the World Tourism Day on 27 September. During the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development” the international tourism organisation UNWTO focuses on the importance the tourism industry has for a sustainable development according to the Agenda 2030. 

However, there is little evidence for a sustainable development or the tourism industry reaching a turning point. Quite the contrary: The excitement over the growth of the industry, fades compared to the complaints of locals, who feel suffocated by the increasing numbers of tourists. Emissions caused by tourism are on the rise as well and especially air travel is turning into a climate killer more and more. “Over Tourism” has turned into quite a buzzword in the media and gives food for thought regarding the future of the tourism industry.

High time for a turnaround in tourism!
The tourism industry has focused on unrestricted growth and all too often made plans without considering the local community, while disregarding the consequences for the environment. The uproar of the locals and the fact that the negative consequences of tourism for the environment and the climate cannot be ignored anymore, shows the current model has reached its limit. 
“In order for tourism to create sustainable development, the industry needs to realign its priorities while travellers become aware of their role within the process”, Andrea Lichtenecker, Executive Director of Naturefriends International, emphasizes. “The tourism industry needs to ensure that international human right standards are being kept, include the local community in the destinations and take environmental protection seriously.” Everybody is needed – the industry, political bodies, as well as the tourists.

„Berlin Declaration“ shows measures for a sustainable tourism
In their “Berlin Declaration on Transforming Tourism” (published in March), civil society organisations from all around the world – including NFI – pointed out how this can work. 
The declaration identified specific core principles and recommendations to create a fair and sustainable tourism in the future.
This includes:

  • Free, prior and informed consent for the local community in destinations before and during tourism development. The inclusion of vulnerable parts of the community, as well as strengthening and supporting human rights defenders, needs special attention.
  • Social security, living wages and career opportunities for the local workforce as well as the support for local tourism initiatives.
  • Sustainable production and consumption patterns which protect the environment and the climate while human rights are respected.
  • Stop the growth-cycle: It is not the growth of the industry that creates sustainable development and abolishes the current, exploitative tourism model, but the development of a socially and ecologically viable tourism.

You can find the Berlin Declaration here: 

Naturefriends International (NFI) is the international umbrella organisation of the Naturefriends movement, uniting over 50 member organisations and approximately 350,000 members. The focus of NFI’s work is on creating and implementing sustainable development of the environment and society. NFI is member of the “Green 10”, a coalition of ten leading environmental NGOs active at the EU level.

The Naturefriends Climate Fund provides all Naturefriends with the opportunity of supporting climate protection projects by African Naturefriends as a compensation for trips with the plane or car - and thus of contributing personally to more climate justice. 100% of the contribution payments go into specific local measures to mitigate the impact of climate change and/or contribute to climate protection. 

Cornelia Kühhas
Naturefriends International, Public relations
Phone.: +43 (0)1 89 23 877-41