For the past two decades three major topics have kept coming back in China: pollution, fast growing economy and fast paced Chinese tourism growth. What if there was a solution to accommodate the three topics into something that would benefit Chinese and foreign tourists alike? This articles explores the idea of sustainable tourism in China and how it might benefit the country going forward.
Note: This article was originally written in 2015.
The Concept of Sustainable Tourism
Sustainable tourism is all about travelling and visiting a place while trying to make a positive impact on the environment, the economy and society. Undoubtedly, tourism is a good thing for the economy of a country because it brings money to it, but it has down sides like the pollution.
This means moving from one place to another with the modern means of transportation. The sad news is, all these transportation systems add to pollution via greenhouse gases.
The Sustainable Tourism Model
It’s all about changing consuming habits to make them less dangerous to the environment and have a lasting viable model. Because pollution is anything but a sign of a lasting and viable tourism industry model.
Greenhouse gas emissions damage not only the environment itself, but also the integrity of tourist models in that area. The economic benefits may follow environmental ones here.
Too much pollution destroys the places tourists may have otherwise enjoyed and ultimately reduces the variety of tourism sites.
A sustainable tourism approach can make travelers more aware of less developed places. After that, some simple guidelines can be made to present the actions they have to do to pollute less have to be given to these tourists.
It can also anticipate and respect local communities in places that need to be preserved the most. One of the most important guideline is to be informed of the culture, politics and economy in order to avoid mistakes that could be made.
Travelling is business in the modern world. However, support is growing for sustainable transport initiatives that build the integrity of local cultures, conserve cultural heritage, and purchase local goods.
When people travel, they usually are on holidays and are more relaxed. Sustainable development can teach healthy and eco-friendly habits to improve the quality of the overall tourism experience. In the end, people may remember what they saw and learned and apply it in their everyday life.
Long Terms Plans for Sustainable Tourism in China
China is one of the most polluted countries of the planet. It’s the second most polluted country, after the United States. This pollution is due to exploitation of natural resources and the many industries that have help China on its economy. This has catastrophic consequences on health and on the environment.
China also has a lot of tourists: it became in 2005 the 5th destination of international tourism. As it’s been said before, tourism pollutes countries. China needs to slow down the bad impacts it has on environment and tries since the 1980s to protect its environment.
If China wants to reduce its pollution, it will have to set up sustainable tourism.
Furthermore, tourism is money, so China, like every other countries, tries to make efforts to attract tourism. The country is known for setting up incredible things and trying to make every place comfortable for the tourists.
Sustainable tourism would improve two things immediately:
- First, decrease littering coming from the tourists themselves
- Second, change the “China is too polluted to visit” cliché that hinder its inbound and domestic tourism
China will gain a lot of things by setting up this sustainable tourism: less pollution, public awareness, and more tourism in some places. In fact, this sustainable action can also benefit to the Chinese people itself and also to the economy because of the growth of tourism in some places.
How Could It Become a Reality?
A simple thing is just to put signs or lines on tourist guides to make people aware that a particular zone requires attention and has to be protected. In fact, all touristic guides should have some sentences on the first page of the book to invite tourists to pollute less.
People don’t like pollution and waste, so just reminding them that some actions can lead in the future to a bad landscape can help. This can be done simply by increasing the availability of electric vehicles or new modes of transport. It can also be done by highlighting the carbon footprint resulting from certain actions such as using fossil fuels in motorized transport.
NGOs are active in advocating sustainable tourism as sustainable development. Some simply do research but others spread their ideas and solutions. Summits about the sustainable development always seek for new ideas about sustainable tourism. So it will become more known because more showed and more developed.
The Role of Tourism Agencies
China is the place where sustainable tourism has the most potential. Indeed, with pollution becoming a major concern in China, not only people will want to have a more environment friendly activities but the government as well. Government backed tourism is probably the best thing for tourism agencies wanting to attract more Chinese.
Sustainable tourism in China can still be considered as a niche market compared to other more famous segments like attracting more high-end tourists. Now is the time to enter the market and act as one of the pioneer.
Besides, sustainable tourism would have China enter into a virtuous circle of raised awareness that would make China more appealing to tourists.