Sustainable Tourism Development in Asia: Evaluation of the Potential and Challenges:

Sustainable Tourism Development in Asia: Evaluation of the Potential and Challenges:

Gamini Herath (Monash University, Malaysia)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2078-8.ch006
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Sustainable Tourism as a concept respects both local people, the traveler, cultural heritage and the environment. It should meet the needs of and opportunity for the future. But operationalizing sustainable tourism is problematic due to analytical weaknesses, conceptual criticisms and the need to redefine better perspectives. Asia faces many challenges in promoting sustainable tourism including political leadership, poor participation by all stakeholders, adverse environmental and social impacts. Another challenge is to ensure social sustainability and creating opportunities to transfer income to the poorer. The empirical study of island tourism in Malaysia shows that Marine Parks regulations are not adequately enforced and Malaysian coral reefs can suffer from increasing degradation. Water pollution, overfishing, beach erosion, coral bleaching and damage, fishing, snorkeling and poor recycling and sewage disposal all are still significant challenges to the Marine Park in in Tioman Island in Malaysia.
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Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries with a wide spectrum of employment opportunities and income for many countries in Asia. Tourism contributes 9 percent of the world’s GDP, 8 percent of employment and 5 percent of GHGs emissions (UNEP 2002). Table 1 shows international tourism arrivals from many countries including Europe and Asia for the period 2000-2014. The table shows that tourist arrivals have increased continuously over the 2000-1014 period. Tourism can have serious impacts on the environment, society, cultural heritage and natural ecosystems. The environmental impacts of tourism began to be noticed early and several tourism concepts focusing on nature such as ecotourism, nature tourism etc emerged. These impacts later led to the emergence of sustainable tourism defined as “tourism that respects both local people and the traveler, cultural heritage and the environment” (Buckley 2012; World Tourism Organization 2001a, 2001b; Cater 1993).

Sustainable tourism, focuses on the balance between the environmental, economic and socio-cultural aspects of tourism development. Sustainable tourism emphasizes economic, social and environmental dimensions in an integrated manner to minimize the impact on the environment and local culture so that it will be available for future generations, while contributing to income, employment, and the conservation of local ecosystems (Hall et al. 2003; Hall et al 1991). By doing so, sustainable tourism provides crucial economic incentives for habitat and biodiversity protection. Revenues from visitor spending are often channeled back into nature conservation or capacity building programs for local communities and poverty reduction and the achievement of common goals towards sustainable development (Driml & Common 1995).

Sustainable tourism is important in achieving Millennium Sustainable Development Goals (MSDGs) adopted in 2015. Sustainable tourism will raise pertinent issues in Asia including poverty, environmental degradation and biodiversity extinction. In Indonesia for example, tourism generates, foreign earnings, combat poverty, and support development of many remote areas. Sustainable tourism has promoted biodiversity conservation using conservation areas for tourism education and experience with new nature-based destinations, guidelines for visiting pristine areas and strict environmental standards for tourism.

Table 1.
International tourist arrivals by country 2000-2014
Country 20002005200820092010201120122014
Unites States51,238,00049,206,00058,007,00055,103,00060,010,00062,821,00066,657,00075,011,000
United Kingdom23,212,00028,039,00030,142,00028,199,00028,295,00029,306,00029,282,00032,613,000
Hong Kong SAR, China8,814,00014,773,00017,319,00016,926,00020,085,00022,316,00023,770,00027,770,000

Source: World Data Atlas Tourism, 2015

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