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Greening environmental policy

Further confounding the problematic of sustainable tourism is ambiguity surrounding the use of the term itself. Sustainable tourism is often popularly conceptualized as a more ‘elite’ form of tourism and the term is frequently used interchangeably with others such as alternative tourism, ecotourism, ‘soft’ tourism, ‘green’ tourism and the like. The reality of tourism however, is that in 1999, there were over 664 million international tourist movements, of which approximately 80% could be defined as ‘mass tourism’. This polarization of sustainable tourism away from mass tourism does little to address the real issues of sustainable tourism development. Potentially, sustainable tourism could become a divisive force in society if there continues to be a value based distinction made between ‘good’ tourism (the so-called alternative forms of tourism) and ‘bad’ tourism (mass tourism) (Swarbrooke, 1999). The interchangeability of ecotourism with sustainable tourism in particular, displays an inadequate understanding of both terms as not all forms of ecotourism are sustainable and not all sustainable tourism takes place in natural areas. It could be suggested that an ecotourist can be more demanding than the mass tourist, who may not desire to visit endangered species in remote locations can. Additionally, the needs and wastes of the mass tourist may be more readily planned for and managed in large numbers incorporating economies of scale (Wall, 1997).