The international tourism industry is booming; according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the sector saw direct growth of 4.6 percent in 2017 — exceeding the global average for the seventh year in a row. Tourism is a top employer, with one in ten global jobs supported by the travel industry.
Unfortunately, as the tourism sector grows, so do concerns about travel's impact on the environment. From international flights to inefficient accommodations, several hallmarks of tourism dramatically increase the carbon footprints of otherwise ordinary individuals. Reducing travel frequency or distance is an option, but there is great value in seeing the world from a new perspective. Sustainable tourism, however, may allow travelers to broaden their horizons while minimizing their impact on vulnerable habitats.
As both travel profits and environmental concerns grow, sustainable economic development provides an excellent opportunity for passionate individuals to combine two areas of interest while working towards the ambitious goal of an eco-friendly tourism industry. Below, we explore the importance of this growing niche, as well as opportunities for getting involved:
Why Is Sustainable Tourism Important?
Experts at the Global Development Research Center (GDRC) believe that uncontrolled conventional tourism leads to increased air and water pollution, soil erosion, habitat loss, and risks to already endangered species. Excessive tourism can also force local populations to compete for already scarce resources such as energy or potable water. Careless tourists litter to the point that once remote trails in the Peruvian Andes are now referred to by the primary type of trash left there. Examples include the 'Coca-Cola Trail' and the 'Toilet Paper Trail.' Environmental Protection Agency data analyzed by Friends of the Earth reveals that cruise ships carrying 3,000 passengers pump, on average, 150,000 gallons of sewage into the ocean every week.
Sustainable tourism is essential because it draws attention to the huge role waste currently plays in the travel and hospitality industries. The field doesn't aim to eradicate tourism, but rather, find practical solutions that provide a more ethical and eco-friendly approach to travel. Sustainable tourism experts seek not only the public's attention, but also cooperation from industry stakeholders, such as key private sector leaders and various government entities. Advocates believe that by joining forces, public and private organizations can develop sustainable, authentic experiences for travelers, who, in turn, can do their part to minimize waste.
Studying Global Tourism and Sustainable Economic Development
An emerging area of expertise, the promising field of sustainable economic development addresses a wide range of global challenges, including poverty, inequality, environmental degradation, climate change, and more. An online MS – Global Tourism and Sustainable Economic Development degree from Johnson & Wales University equips you with a greater understanding of global development and its current challenges. Targeted courses explore applicable topics such as:
- Tourism marketing
- Ethics in development
- Tourism economics
- Strategic solutions for developing nations
- And more
Upon earning your MS – Global Tourism and Sustainable Economic Development from JWU, you should understand the full scope of environmental and ethical challenges in the global tourism industry, but also the exciting potential for industry improvements.
Career Opportunities in Global Tourism and Sustainable Development
Eco-tourism is already a thriving industry — and all signs point to continued growth in years to come. The United Nations referred to 2017 as the "International Year of Sustainable Travel for Development." During this landmark year, experts gathered to develop a blueprint for future sustainable travel efforts in hopes of transforming global policies and consumer behavior by 2030.
The private sector is also getting involved in the growing sustainable travel industry. A report from the Center for Sustainable Travel reveals that top international hotel and tour chains such as Marriott, the Intercontinental Hotel Group, and Hilton have taken note of a wave of interest in eco-tourism. Several prominent organizations have developed senior management positions and appointed sustainable development experts in hopes of reducing their environmental impact in everyday business practices.
Currently, those with a degree in Global Tourism and Sustainable Development enjoy a broad range of professional opportunities, including the private sector management positions mentioned above. Others work in consulting or destination development. Many are employed by agencies such as the Peace Corps, state and municipal entities, and the United Nations.
If you're a passionate traveler determined to reduce not only your carbon footprint, but also the global environmental impact of tourism, you could thrive in a sustainable development career. Open the doors to exciting professional opportunities with an MS in Global Tourism and Sustainable Development.