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Tourism and sustainable development

The nature and scope of tourism precludes any easy answers to this problematic. Responses to sustainable tourism development commonly represent two basic schools of thought: (1) concern with the promotion of sustainable development, despite its challenges, and, (2) concern with the condemnation of the industry. The latter approach argues that sustainable development is a myth and that it is impossible to promote tourism whilst at the same time maintaining a good quality environment. The former accepts that tourism is potentially destructive, however, acknowledges that tourism will continue to be a significant global phenomenon. Therefore, there needs to be some way of developing tourism in unison with the broader environment (Niles, 1991). Few people would now dispute that tourism is a ‘smokeless industry’ as was once thought; though arguably, its impacts are more benign than other extractive forms of development. Given the economic importance of tourism many accept that it is in the continuing interests of tourism to ensure the longevity of the resources on which it depends. There is a need to achieve a balance between commercial and broader environmental interests. Because of the complexity of the tourism industry and product, and the fragmented way in which tourism is organized, sustainable tourism is inconsistent with the developmental aspects of sustainable development. The dependent nature of tourism production on a global scale and the characteristics of tourist consumption do not fit easily with the principles of endogenous, alternative development. This suggests that the principles of sustainable development cannot be transposed directly onto the context of tourism