Tourism and Employment
PROMOTING ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN TOURISM
Secretariat of state to Tourism (France)
14 August 2000
- Elements of context and Preliminaries
For the purpose of complying with the first three items of the Working Group’s mandate (workable definition of “sustainability” in tourism; identification of the stakeholders concerned, and their respective contributions / relevant strategies and measures at national, regional and local level / existing contribution and potential of relevant Community policies and programmes), a compilation and an analysis of the information available were carried out, enriched by the contributions of the countries at the preparatory meetings.
The expected results will revolve around conclusions and recommendations. One will have to define the possibilities of increased cooperation between the authorities concerned and to specify the means of implementing recommendations, in particular by the definition of concrete actions which have to be undertaken by the Member States and the European Commission, including the estimate of the approximate cost.
The approach of the Working Group consisted in identifying the priority fields of discussion and the principal elements of overview illustrated by relevant examples. From this inventory, suggestions are made. Concrete actions carried out (“best practices”) can indeed be used by the other Member States and the European Commission for the implementation of these recommendations. Took part in this work the European Environment Agency, and the experts from the following Member States: Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Austria, Ireland, Great Britain, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Greece, Portugal, and France.
For all the Member States of the European Union, the promotion of environmental protection and of sustainable tourism is necessary and constitutes an objective extremely shared by all. One notes strong mobilisation on this topic. The setting up of a specific institutional framework in each country is moreover in hand.
The quality of the environment is for all factor of competitiveness of the tourism sector (tourism companies and tourist destinations), and passes through the quality assurance in the whole chain. The important thing is to take measures in terms of sustainability in its three dimensions, by stressing in particular the importance of the social dimension.
The strategy is therefore to improve the attractiveness of the destination “ Europe ” in terms of sustainable tourism.
The experts of the European countries agree on the definition of sustainable tourism of the World Tourism Organisation (WTO). The tourism stakeholders were clearly identified.
The actions already carried out by all Member States of the European Union cover primarily the ecological management of companies and destinations, as well as the spatial regulation and planning of areas. Efforts to provide cover first of all the awareness-raising of all the stakeholders concerned, and the choice and the implementation of management tools.
Besides the economic and social importance of tourism, Member States and the European Union largely recognise the need to preserve the environment to achieve sustainable tourism. The safeguarding of the environment in the broad sense becomes the condition necessary for the development of tourism. The bases of sustainable tourism in Europe are already placed.
Tourism companies in Europe have to establish an offensive strategy of sustainable tourism to preserve their market share. This involves improving the attractiveness of the European destination in terms of sustainable tourism. For the companies, that means to modify their strategy radically by offering activities and tourism services of both environmental quality (respect of the natural environments) and at the other levels (reception, staff training), and economic and non polluting goods (eco-effectiveness measures).
The principal management tool certainly is the implementation of labels (EMAS, ISO 140001) and the beforehand realisation of environmental impact assessments (EIA). Labels already exist in Europe, but concern more the products than the tourist services, and are especially performed by the greatest companies and very little by the SMEs. The organisation of the tourism industry in multiple micro-operators complicates the implementation of overall policies. In the absence of a common network, the more than 45 reported different ecolabels make the evaluation of their effectiveness particularly difficult.
The following issues were analysed as particularly important, in environmental terms: local and regional impact on spatial management and the erosion of the biodiversity, water and energy consumption and the production of the waste generated by tourism, tourism transport, including the reduced mesh size in large parts of the European territory due to transport infrastructures. At destination level a key to dealing with these problems is the concept of carrying capacity.
A number of examples of policies implemented to reconcile tourism and sustainable development have been identified at local and national level and on the regional(in particular Mediterranean and alpine) and international scale have been identified. The Convention on Biological Diversity together with international conventions in the field of sustainable development, such as the CSD, could provide an institutional framework for the integration of the recommendations proposed in the WG document.
The document highlights the complex relations between tourism and environment, and that often there were failures in this respect, in the past. It also deals with the lack of and need for indicators, impact measurement and monitoring methods at European level.
A first important aspect developed in the document is to control the territorial and environmental impact of tourism. To this end, the following objectives can be proposed:
ØTo prevent and reduce the negative environmental impact of installations, of urbanisation and of the tourism infrastructures with regard to
·the construction of tourism installations in the tourist destinations;
·the management of the transport infrastructures;
·measures to be undertaken at European level, in particular regarding transport issues, and those at the local, regional, and national level.
ØTo reduce the consumption of the natural resources and the pollution induced by tourist accommodations and the activities by
·voluntary agreements (e.g. ecolabels and EMAS) with special accompanying measures (e.g. partnerships and cooperation strategies / UNEP Initiative TO, showing economic advantages, validation and certification of the standards) in particular those targeted on SMEs;
·regulatory and tax measures.
ØTo control the development of tourist leisure activities affecting the environment by
·a better orientation of tourist flows in tourist season, and in particular in fragile areas, (carrying capacity, information on environmental standards, environmental impact studies and indicators for quality assessment, quality management techniques / IQM, cutting tourism peaks / prolongation of the tourism season);
·the contribution of tourism to the safeguarding of the sites (tax models and voluntary visitor contribution).
The second aspect developed in detail is that of promoting a tourism which drives sustainable social, cultural, and economic development, with the following objectives.
ØTo prepare regional and local integration strategies, i.e.
·implementation of local Agendas 21 which integrate the three dimensions of the sustainability of tourism;
·improved conditions of employment of the personnel, in particular seasonal employment; better entry on the labour market; sustainability and environment oriented education and vocational training; facilitate business creation; access to holidays for all.
ØTo promote the diversification of tourism as well as balanced spatial development by
·fair competition between the companies to avoid the growth concentration of tourism companies;
·an increased role of tourism SMEs in the decision-making process, and setting up marketing networks;
·developing and promoting tourism destination labels;
·developing alternatives to mass tourism
Under both aspects, the document contains a number of concrete recommendations.
An instrument to be explored is strong regional co-operation in the field of tourism, for instance under the framework definitions of the European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP). The issue is decisive and the contracting countries can play a role of impulse in co-operation with the tourism professionals and the NGOs.
A first approach concerns a sustainable tourism demand by awareness-raising. The adaptation of the tourism companies to the market development appears more than ever necessary. One will have to guide the trend in the tourist demand in favour of a tourism taking better into account the issues of environmental protection and of sustainable development, and to use the role of the market in this direction (awareness campaigns for the local population to take part in the conservation of its natural and cultural heritage, and in particular, and for companies and citizens; ethical code of TOs; reinforced role of NGOs)
A second approach views a sustainable tourism offer by networking of stakeholders, which requires articulating the actions and measures implemented by local, national, and regional institutions by stressing the effective existing practices at local, national, and regional level. Innovation and co-operation between national and local authorities (state, communities, tourism offices, local observatories) and tourism companies make it possible to control better the developments of tourism and to contribute to its better integration with the sustainable development of the territories concerned.
A mechanism of regional co-operation in this field, functioning as partner networks, should centre on the promotion of European ecolabels for tourist products and services, of European networks between stakeholders of the same group, and of networks between the various stakeholders of the tourist destinations to encourage the exchange of experience and to take part in the process of development of a common European strategy.
A third approach aims at structuring the European institutional organisation to promote sustainable tourism, mentioning in particular restructuring of the Advisory Committee on Tourism in the direction of a representation of the states on a higher level and creation of the conditions allowing to hear the representative structures of the tourism sector, reformulated methods of intervention and role of the European Tourism Commission (ETC) and its connection with the European Union, political recognition of European tourism to allow increasing intervention on an inter-ministerial basis, and improved participation of tourism in the European strategy of employment and the qualification of the human resources.
The document formulates concrete proposals for each of these three approaches.
This involves setting up a regional (i.e. for the EU) programme. Its objective is to make of the European Union a region of reflection and of actions as regards sustainable tourism on an international scale and to promote within this framework the implementation of European networks (between professionals, between states).
The awareness-raising of the citizens and companies of the Member States provides the bases of the promotion of the environment and of sustainable tourism outside the European eco-region, from the specific relations maintained with the countries of the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific region.
To ensure the consistency of a sustainable tourism policy in Europe, the following measures and concrete actions are proposed:
|ØImplementation of promotion actions of Europe as a tourist destination on the market of the third countries:
·Studies of the synergies at the level of the image and at the level of the promotional action, in particular by the preparation of an Agenda 21 of Tourism in Europe;
·Encouragement of a travel demand (European multidestinations) characterised by longer stays and improvement of the European timetable of the school holidays to help to lengthen the duration of the seasons.
ØEncouragement of tour operators participating in actions of promoting the environment and sustainable tourism by the preparation of partnerships.
ØParticipation in setting up of European partnership networks to encourage collaboration between the various stakeholders
ØAnalysis of the possibilities of the information society in the field of tourism.
ØTo take into account the tourist dimension in the field of transport.
ØCreation of an effective information instrument for Community tourism that includes statistical elements on supply, demand and employment, precise information on the Community programmes and initiatives in relation to tourism, dissemination of best practices and experiences carried out by the Member States, following the example of the observatories of the Mediterranean regions (Mediterranean Environment and Development Observatory)and alpine regions (Alpine Observation and Information System).
ØCollaboration with the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) with a view to obtaining a harmonisation of the principles of actions, of concepts and of technical instruments like those which form the basis for the handbook “ Tourism Satellite Account ” and of the World Code of Ethics.