Sustainable Tourism Practices/Sustainability and Tourism

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Sustainability and Tourism

What is Sustainability?

The Earth and how we might live in it

Sustainability is a popular yet complex word that is often banded around freely, but what does it actually mean? Here are a few definitions:

"Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (Brundtland, 1987)

Reference: Brundtland, G. H. (1987). Our Common Future. Oxford: Oxford University Press

“Every human has a fundamental right to an environment of quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being” - United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm

Sustainability is often perceived as a complex concept to understand and it can be hard for businesses to discover the benefits it offers. In essence, sustainability is about meeting the needs of today, without adversely impacting on the needs of tomorrow. As a term it can be applied across a range of areas, such as the environment, society and the economy. Ministry of Environment

Toitü he whenua, whatungarongaro he tangata. Translation: Land is permanent, man disappears

In general sustainability means the capacity to endure.

What is sustainable tourism? How does it work?

Icon objectives.jpg
On successful completion of this section, you will be able to:
  • Identify and examine sustainability in a tourism context
  • Contribute resources from your learning to the section below



  • HOME a film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand
  • 100% Pure Tourism New Zealand

Climate Changes and Challenges

Sustainability and Governance


Sustainable business

Sustainability NZgovt - 3 video series

Definition Group Activity

sustainable art

Image courtesy of hillaryp1

Task 1

In groups you will create your own definition of sustainability. Once you have completed this pass your definition onto another group. See if you can add to their definition. Continue until you have seen all of the group definitions. You will be given a time limit for this.

Task 2

  • discuss the definitions - what you liked in particular about some of them
  • keywords which were effective and were there any words used which you did not understand or which could have more than one meaning
  • can you now come together and combine all the definitions into one

Task 3

  • what is the difference between sustainable, responsible and eco tourism? Is there a difference?
  • have you experienced examples of good practice of sustainable tourism when on holiday?