Tourism, like others sectors, faces major global challenges. Five of these are discussed below. Although they do not encompass all of the challenges facing the sector, all are important issues recognized around the world. They serve here to illustrate the range of impacts and opportunities that relate to tourism, and also to highlight some of the many reasons why governments should pay serious attention to its sustainable development.
Managing dynamic growth The doubling of international tourist movements predicted for the next 15 to 20 years will bring considerable pressures. If serious harm to the very resources on which tourism depends is to be avoided, this growth must be well managed. This will require careful planning of the location and types of new development, improved environmental management practices and influencing consumption patterns. Certain types of location, including those listed below, are particularly vulnerable to pressure:
Marine and coastal environments, where badly sited development, poor management of waste from resorts and cruise shipping, and general over-use by tourists leads to serious loss of amenity and natural habitats.
Historic towns and cities and cultural heritage sites, where pressures and congestion from visitors and their traffic affect overall amenity and residents’ quality of life.
Climate change Climate change is a major issue for the long term sustainability of tourism in two senses: climate change will have consequences for tourism, and tourism is a contributor to climate change.Effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels, increased frequency and energy of surges and storms, beach erosion, coral bleaching, and disrupted water supply threaten many coastal destinations. Mountain resorts will also suffer, from rising snow lines and shortening winter sports seasons. Changes in temperature and rainfall will affect market appeal in most parts of the world, although in different ways, depending on the interplay of push and pull effects in countries of origin and destination. Tourism may also be affected by other factors such as the spread of tropical diseases and the availability of water. Some of these impacts are already being felt.
It is estimated that tourism may contribute up to 5.3 per cent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, with transport accounting for about 90 per cent of this.6 Estimates suggest that aviation accounts for 2−3 per cent of the world’s total use of fossil fuels and up to 3.5 per cent of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect. More than 80 per cent of this is due to civil aviation.7 Based on current trends, these impacts are set to increase significantly as air transport is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions.