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Sustainable September debate: growth in tourism is undesirable – arguments against



We kicked off a new series on Tuesday in which we preview the four debates taking place during Sustainable SeptemberBlue & Green Tomorrow’s month-long celebration of sustainability that starts later this year.

With tickets on sale in June and a full schedule released in the coming weeks, Blue & Green Tomorrow readers are invited to register their interest to attend any of the four debates – as well as the full-day sustainability conference in the final week of September.

The first event taking place is an evening debate on tourism, scheduled for the week of September 1. Four speakers will argue for and against the motion, “Growth in tourism is undesirable: it is rarely economically or environmentally ‘good’.”

This series began on Tuesday with an outlining of some of the arguments for that motion, including the environmental and cultural implications of tourism growth. But there are equally strong arguments against the motion, too.

Arguably the most compelling case is an economic one. Tourism, particularly in the developing world, has such an impact on the financial health of some local communities that they now utterly depend on it.

It has created jobs and much-needed income in places where there would otherwise be high unemployment and little industry. And the more tourists these places welcome, the better off they are.

Also, as more consumers become switched on to sustainability and the idea of responsible tourism, considered and controlled growth in the industry can bring about widespread positive outcomes. This is where the idea of ‘wise growth’ comes in – balancing the needs of the visitor, the destination and the tourism industry with those of the environment.

VisitEngland, England’s tourist board, has a Wise Growth Action Plan that it is currently implementing in various regions of the country. Its vision reads, “Grow tourism responsibly in a finite world, creating resilience and prosperity for all, balancing the growth aspirations of the Strategic Framework with the principles of sustainability.”

More generally, while it acknowledges the unchecked growth of tourism can sometimes have negative impacts, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says, “Managed well, tourism can play a positive role in the socio, cultural, economical, environmental and political development of the destination and as such represents a significant development opportunity for many countries and communities.”

The Sustainable September debate, which you can register your interest for here, will explore this subject in-depth – and we hope this brief outlining of both arguments has whet your appetite to join us.

In the meantime, why not tell us what you think on social media? Follow Sustainable September on Twitter (@SustSept), Facebook ( and through the dedicated LinkedIn group.

Read arguments for the motion.

Further reading:

Introducing: Sustainable September

What is Sustainable September?

Register now for Sustainable September 2014


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