Sustainable Tourism. Is it possible?

The year 2017 has been designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Regional Development. A broad concept. The focus is not only on ecotourism. Tourism is also the engine for cultural preservation and local economic development. The beautiful Slovenia is the first winner!

Sustainable tourism for regional development

For the UN, sustainable tourism does not only mean’ green’ or’ eco’. For the UN, sustainable tourism also includes issues such as cultural preservation and local economic development. The UN has therefore declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Everyone is aware that travelling and the ever cheaper air fares are not good for the environment. However, tourism is a great boost to regional development in disadvantaged areas. Provided it happens in the right way, and the local population benefits from it. Not only major tour operators. The overall picture of ‘sustainable tourism‘ is therefore quite complicated. There are now many labels, but also (fake) certificates.

UNWTO – International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development from GLP Films on Vimeo.

Slovenia leading the way in sustainable tourism

Slovenia in particular is doing well. In 2016, the country was the first country in the world to be declared a’ sustainable destination‘. Not so strange with all the green fields, snowy peaks and beautiful lakes. At 96%, Slovenia scores positively on no less than 96 of the 100 criteria for sustainable tourism. Research agency Green Destinations carried out the survey. Location visits, many interviews with local experts, the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO), government and ministries led to the positive opinion. Economic and administrative factors were also taken into account.

Alpine hills and valleys are criss-crossed with exceptional hiking trails. Image by

Sustainable Tourism – research by Green Destinations.

The research company Green Destinations from Leiden, operating worldwide, carried out the research into sustainability. Green Destinations supports and certifies countries, regions and accommodations. The agency has developed a comprehensive list of criteria for certification. Through this Green Destination Standard, among other things, consideration is given to dealing with the environment and climate, taxation of nature and influence on biodiversity, culture and authenticity,’ green’ economic development, administrative and political factors and more.

Ljubljana – green capital

The European Union underlines Slovenia’s high score. For example, the capital Ljubljana was declared Europe’s greenest capital. Not so crazy. Slovenia is a country of green forests and more than 40 national parks and reserves. More than 20,000 plants and animals, winding roads and beautiful hiking trails make Slovenia a pleasant country. Less than 2 million inhabitants, beautiful lakes and the tastiest wine make Slovenia worth an exploration trip.

How Does Sustainable Tourism Help Protect the Environment?

Tourism has been contributing a lot everywhere in the world. However, it will not give the same result over and over if people do not maintain it properly. That’s why we need sustainable tourism.

Sustainable tourism definition

Is a concept of tourism which takes full responsibility of economical, social, and environmental impacts either in present or future. From the definition, some of you may be mistaken it for ecotourism. They may be similar yet still different in the same time. In fact, you can consider it as the sub-category of sustainable tourism.


It will need the participation of local people in the maintenance, development, and improvement of tourism.


Ecotourism is responsible for natural areas by conserving the nature. It also enhances the well being of local people. The difference of both terms is that ecotourism aims to minimalize negative impacts toward tourism, while sustainable tourism is a complex, standarized, and continous system. Although their scope is different, they are still the same in vision and mission.

To make it clearer, let us give you an example for each. The sustainable tourism examples are riding a bike to travel a city, buying local products, using eco-friendly accommodation, etc. The examples of ecotourism are hiring a local people to guide you for watching birds or staying in a homestay owned by local people. This way can contribute to the economy of the locals.

Sustainable Tourism

There are several indicators which can increase sustainable tourism development.

First, it will need the participation of local people in the maintenance, development, and improvement of tourism. Second, stakehholders and other parties who got involved in the development need to participate as well. Third, we must limit or even stop the use of non-renewable resources. Last but not least, local society must be accommodated in tourism activity so there will be harmonious atmosphere between the locals, tourists, and places.


As you can see, sustainability in tourism is really important. It is because everyone will get the benefits of it. For example, the locals will take you to some amazing spots, and you have helped their economy by hiring them as your tour guide. What’s more is that they will converse every natural tourist attraction so that many people still can visit there in the future. Of course it will need a proper sustainable tourism management to get that result. The need for change in our daily lives is important to win the fight of all global environmental issues.