Sustainable Tourism: A challenge for the new millennium

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Tourism as an industry is a phenomenon that has been gaining a growing presence in the international economic dynamics. For many nations and regions of the world is one of its core activities, generating income, employment and development.

Its characteristics have significant impact on the rest of the economic sectors and social relationships both places where it is practiced, as in the countries of origin of visitors, who return bearing new experiences and new vision. From 1989 – 1990 begins a vigorous development of tourism in Cuba, will place this not only as the most dynamic of our external sector, but as the higher revenues that provide the country’s currency.

However, understanding the nature of tourism and its relationship with the environment, allow a harmonious coexistence between nature and tourism, so not being altered ecosystems where this activity takes place, and therefore needs to address Tourists present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

SUMMARY: The Tourist industry is a phenomenon That has acquired a growing dynamic Presence in the International Economy. For many nations and regions of the world tourism constitutes essential Activities, generation of income, employment and development. These have an important impact Characteristics in the rest of the Economic Sectors and in the social relations And Also the places where it is practiced. For example, in the Countries of the visitor’s origin, it bears the recapture of new experiences and give another view point. From 1989-1990 to vigorous development of the tourist industry in Cuba Began That positioned it not only as the MOST dynamic of our external sector, but as the largest proportion in foreign currency Revenues to the country.

However, to understand the character of the tourist activity and its relationships With The environment, a harmonious coexistence Between nature and tourism Should be allowed, in Such a Way That Will Suffer the ecosystems where this activity is Alterations Developed, and as a Consequence to make opposition to the present touristic necessities without putting at risk the capacity of the future generations to Attend its own needs.


The definitions on tourism dating from the same time that this became part of leisure time. According to the Bible, Moses sent into the land of Canan a group of representatives to learn about what might be in it. This journey of reconnaissance and exploration, was described in ancient Hebrew synonymous with tur. Today millions of people move over most of the planet in the so-called leisure travel. This phenomenon leads to gainful modern word defined with tourism.

Tourism is characterized by social and economic activity relatively young and the fact encompass a wide range of economic sectors and academic disciplines has led to an obvious difficulty in establishing unanimous definition of tourism and that distinguish it from other sectors.

There has been an academic debate about what exactly is tourism, which is made up of elements that must be considered and tourists, which has led to many definitions, each emphasizing different aspects of the same activity. (Glucksmann, 1935 cit. By De la Torre, 1980:17; Hunziker and Krapf, 1942, cit. By De la Torre, 1980: 19; From Arrillaga, 1955, cit. Per Acerenza, 1974: 25; Burkart and Medlik, 1981, Mathieson and Wall, 1982: UNWTO, 1991, 1995 a). In this sense we may say that all contributed to deepen the understanding of tourism.

However it is necessary to create a conceptual framework as a basis for a better understanding of the issues discussed in this paper. Most authors relate to tourism with leisure time and linking this with the displacement that occurs during this activity, that is, that the tourist must move from place to place and temporarily exit the everyday existential space . However, in the analysis of each of the definitions do not appreciate the nature of the subject, and what can influence the supply of nuclei receptors, and mentions the effects that can cause visitors receptors in the nuclei, but not valued which can be negative and positive in nature in the economic, social and ecological.

Therefore we can consider from our perception of tourism as “voluntary displacement of an individual or group of individuals on different areas of their usual places of residence for recreational, cultural or rest, and all-purpose outside remunerative work or professional. ” Source: Compiled from cit Briassoulis by Roe et al, 1997:22.

The concept of tourist is very important for the reflection of the fact that cultural tourism which makes decisive. This concept determines the quality and scope of relations with the environment of the tourist-destination site that will define the final balance of the experience. This experience has a reciprocal impact on the tourist and resort, understood as a:

“A system located in a set of dynamic interaction elements located within a given physical space, organized according to a purpose” “The local space, as a system, comprises a set of dynamic interacting subsystems each other and with their environment, aimed at meeting the needs … not just people who live and / or work in this town, but the needs and interests of the various subsystems that are part of the local system ‘

The concept of locally acquired thus connotes something socio-territorial passing defined as an area comprised of an ongoing development process in general when this process is designed, planned, promoted or induced.

The League of Nations in 1937 described as a tourist to anyone who travels for 24 hours or more in any other country other than their residence. This definition was improved by UIOTT that required this change of residence as temporary and voluntary, it should also be motivated by reasons beyond the profession or business. The concept and the proper definition of tourist has also technical and practical significance in commercial management and implementation of procedures and legal process solution. Every country has this concept clear in the legislation but the following is a definition that summarizes the idea of what a tourist who currently dominates the world.

Economy: According to the “International Conference on International Travel and Tourism”, held from 21 August to 5 September 1991, the Austrian experts proposed the following definition: the temporary visitor, from a foreign country, which remains in the country more than twenty-four hours and less than three months for any reason other than employment. “This definition is widely accepted, but begins to question what refers to the dimension of space-time (up to three months). Briefly at this stage is taken into account when defining tourism, not only the action of traveling and reasons, but the phenomena and relationships generated around it, once you decide to make a trip out of where usually resides.

The tourism industry point one of the branches of the economy in recent decades has experienced an expansive development, with amazing growth rates exceeding dynamism in traditional development sectors, has been gained increasing importance in the global arena, but This rapid growth is also threatened by neoliberal policies.

This sector has not clearly established the existence of a tangible product, but rather constitute a set of services that are not the same in different countries. This is no coincidence, every nation comes to designing your destination and tourism product with features and attractions that make them unique.

The concept of globalization is intended to describe the immediate reality as a global society, beyond borders, barriers, ethnic, religious beliefs, political ideologies and socio-economic or cultural. Arises from the ever increasing internationalization of the economic, social conflicts and political-cultural phenomena.

Many use the concept of globalization to justify the transformations taking place in the economies of the different countries, whose trend is the integration of an open, subject to the effects of free markets, currency fluctuations and speculative capital movements . The areas of reality that best reflects the globalization are the economy, technological innovation, culture, environment and leisure.

These elements have an effect on tourism but we will focus primarily on the analysis of leisure which is defined as “leisure time not used for work.

In social reality, however, leisure and recreation opportunities have become part of life in all societies. Have varied according to weather conditions and the surrounding nature, and have been progressing as technological improvements have been achieved and more control over the environment.

The entertainment is not considered as a waste of time, but as a leisure activity. Similarly, the work is no longer defined only as an activity but as a modification of the physical and mental world through effort and work is considered only if there is a source of recreation for the person. The difference between work and play lies in the meaning we give to the concept of recreation.

The loss of time, as Marx and De Tocqueville noted from very different points of view, it is usually a collective phenomenon that arises as a result of market failures. Boom and bust cycles, and fluctuations in economic activity of twenty years or more, can sink or promote the prosperity of a community. The productivity is linked to the specialization in the division of labor, but, equally, or area exposed to the vicissitudes specialized region of fluctuations in supply and demand.

Currently there is a tendency to work less and have more free time and idle. Working hours, daily, weekly, annual and life (over a lifetime), have been gradually reduced, particularly for men and particularly for the less skilled. As a result, there are many programs stadiums, sports centers, leisure centers and university towns, leisure has become a huge industry that paradoxically holds a growing number of workforce.

But we keep talking about it but every time you shop to reduce working time for recreation and leisure, much of the world’s population can only dream about this, and the main causes are primarily for tourism must have with an income level to support this activity and these are obtained “normally” when you have a job and remember that a large percent of the world population is unemployed active or pay barely enough to feed themselves.

Globalization is a new phenomenon, which affects the structure of societies, governments and cultural formations. The information does not have a single local origin and spread in a very fast worldwide. The leisure and tourism grow to new levels. More with the trend towards full privatization of tourism businesses is not easy to control underdeveloped countries to respect the national identity attributes that determine how they will disseminate culture in tourist destinations are the investors and entrepreneurs, domestic and foreign , owners of hotels and other tourism products that prioritize profits ignoring the consequences.

But privatization affects not only the loss of national identity and historical-cultural values but also brings great environmental type disorders due to inappropriate use of new technologies, which in turn is reversed as negative impact development of the tourism industry.

In 1972, we celebrate the First United Nations Conference on Environment following a series of events, including highlights, as Rock (2000):

* Start of the energy crisis.

* It is the first report of the Club of Rome, Limits to Growth.

* Celebration of the first Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

* Signature of the Paris Convention on the World Cultural and Natural Heritage under the auspices of UNESCO.

Thus begins a new way of looking at environmental issues that impact later in a new trend of development thinking, making the definition of sustainable development-an alternative concept to introduce environmental-factor against the big trend illustrated by the economic approach (Lors, 1999).

The framework of sustainable development, one that keeps the balance between economic growth, social development and conservation of the natural heritage including biological resources, is emerging as one of the greatest challenges facing not only the economies but societies in general, touching all points of these assets and liabilities (The Latin American Allince, 1997, Economic Research Center for the Caribbean, 1998).

The concept of “sustainable” first appears in the Bruntland Report (1987), entitled “Our Common Future”, presented to the General Assembly of the United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development defined as: ” process that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs, “looking as the American Council for Integral Development of the OAS (1997), the intimate association of economic activity with nature.

Some development experts define sustainable development as “a style in each region seeks specific solutions to specific problems, taking into account the natural and cultural environment, meeting the immediate needs and long term. Finding is media amortize socioeconomic development with proper management of natural resources and the environment “(Troncoso, 1992: 2).

Moreover, the World Conservation Union (1991), gives another definition more explicit:

“The process by which development occurs sn deteriorating or depleting the resources that make it possible. This is achieved generally managing resources so that they can be renewed at the same rate that they are employees, or from the use of a resource that is generated slowly to another which makes a faster pace. This resource may continue to support present and future generations. ”

It was in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, or “Earth Summit”), which institutionalizes the concept of “sustainable development” and “sustainability” (Roca, 2000). The objectives of the conference, a report was to examine the changes in the state of the environment in the 20 years between Stockholm and Rio conferences.

Sustainable development requires, first, that people can have access to satisfy their basic needs, to gradually achieve the satisfaction of needs that go beyond material goals and to enable the comprehensive and full development of the person. (Lors, 1999)

In this line, as McIntyre et al. (1993) considers sustainable development, in general, three principles:

* Ecological sustainability ensures that development is compatible with the maintenance of essential ecological processes, biological diversity and biological resources.

* The social and cultural sustainability ensures that development increases men control over their own lives, is compatible with the culture and values of the people affected, and maintain and strengthen community identity.

* Economic sustainability ensures that development is economically efficient and that resources are managed so as to preserve for future generations.

Sustainable development of tourism is inextricably linked to the concept of carrying capacity or tourism capacity or carrying capacity, as it is called indifferently by various authors. The concept refers to the maximum use can be made without causing a deterioration of its resources, lower levels of visitor satisfaction or generate adverse impacts on society, the economy and local culture.

There are three types of load:

* Ecological: quantification of the intensity of use, or number of users in determining the level considered acceptable ecological degradation.

* Landscape: absorption capacity of the presence of visitors through a landscape.

* Perceptual: Limit psychological tolerance to the presence of visitors, both by residents and visitors themselves.

The carrying capacity is a key concept in planning the development of sustainable tourism as the excessive use of any area for tourism may be accompanied by negative effects on resources, damaging the quality of the environment in satisfaction levels visitors. The supply of natural, cultural and historic features an area that determines the tourism product, which can be almost 100% of the quality and quantity of the same, so it is imperative to maintain a harmonious relationship between the development activity and the surrounding environment.

“The environmental carrying capacity is the ability of an ecosystem to support healthy organisms while maintaining its productivity, adaptability and capacity for renewal.”

Sustainable tourism is based on the basic principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, as it is irrefutable recognize the close link between tourism and environmental protection.

Sustainable tourism is:

“Economic development model designed to improve the quality of life of the host community, facilitate the visitor experience high environmental quality of both the host community and visitors depends”.

Sustainable tourism is also related to a cultural aspect: to protect the cultural identity of the target community, by ensuring a healthy relationship between the local community and / the tourist.

Since the Brundtland Report (1997), coined the term sustainable development, many authors who, from sciences such as economics, sociology, among others, questions its conception, basically presenting two arguments, (Center for Economic Research for the Caribbean, 1998). First are those related to the fact that the concept has no clear economic and political practices. Second, are those who see sustainable development as a concept incoherent and contradictory as it is the union of two concepts of two sciences, economics and ecology.

Despite the criticisms leveled against this definition of sustainable development, the concept has continued to evolve (Wolters, 1991), and today we can find different approaches suggested by international organizations among which are the following:

* World Bank (CIT Economic Research Center for the Caribbean, 1998: 6) states that “sustainable development is a model that articulates the economic component, social and ecological, which is related to the economic efficiency issues in the use of resources, social equity and ecological environmental quality ”

* The Inter-American Development Bank (1994, cit. By the Economic Research Center for the Caribbean, 1998: 6), in his paper “Our Own Agenda”, draws the lines for a sustainable development strategy, which contains:

* Eradication of poverty.

* Sustainable use of resources.

* Land use planning.

* Technological development compatible with the natural and social reality.

* New economic and social strategy, organization, social mobilization and state reform.

All these approaches have in common the operational element of each vertex of the triangle of sustainability integrator seeking a space between different spheres (economic, social, and ecological), interrelated to each other.

Based on the goals it sets the definition of sustainable tourism, establishing the following principles:

* The planning, development and operational management of tourism should be part of conservation strategies and sustainable development for the region, province (state) or nation. The planning, development and management of tourism should affect all sectors in an integrated manner by involving government agencies, private entities, citizens groups and individuals, thus broadening the spread of benefits.

* The bodies, entities, groups and individuals must follow aesthetic principles of respect for the culture and environment of the receiving area, its economy and traditional way, their community and their traditional behavior, their leaders and their political configuration.

* Tourism should be planned and managed in a sustainable manner, with due regard to the protection and appropriate economic use of the natural environment and social development of the host areas.

* It must have solid information, studies and diverse opinions about the nature of tourism and its effects on the human environment and culture before and during development, especially in regard to local people so that it can participate and influence the direction of development and mitigate its adverse effects on both self-interest and collective.

* It should encourage local people and it should be expected to take the lead in planning and development with the assistance of government, business and other financial interests ahead.

* Prior to the initiation of any major project, environmental analysis should be performed, social and economic approaches, emphasizing the different types of tourism development and the ways in which these guys could fit the traditional lifestyles and environmental factors .

* In all stages of tourism development and management should conduct a careful program of assessment, monitoring and mediation, so that local people can benefit from the opportunities or react to changes.

The key to sustainable tourism is to effectively manage the natural and cultural environment, in order to bring benefits to society and increase the interest of visitors.


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Msc. Lidia Ines Diaz Gispert

Institution: University of Cienfuegos “Carlos Rafael Rodrguez”.

Address: Four Roads, Road to Rhodes, Cienfuegos.