Sustainable tourism

Sustainable development and sustainable tourism

The VAKINN environmental criteria are based on the ideology of sustainable development as defined in the United Nations report on the environment and development, “Our common future”, often referred to as the Brundtland report. According to this report, sustainable development is:

"Development which meets the requirements of modernity without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Three mainstays of sustainable development are emphasised, the financial, social and environmental. Sustainable development insists on a balance between those mainstays, in the sense that they should all be given equal weight. Society thrives within the environment, and it is within society that the economy is created. Therefore, every decision that a company makes has to consider social and environmental interest in equal measure to economic interest.

Sustainable tourism is the daughter concept of sustainable development, i.e. this came into being when parties within tourism began to relate the content of the Brundtland report to the industry. It could be said, therefore, that:

"Sustainable tourism is any development or activity within the tourism sector which respects the environment, ensures the long term protection of natural and cultural resources and is viable and fair, from a social and economic point of view."

The definition is taken from the book Sustainable Tourism Management, published 1999, by J. Swarbrooke. Rannveig Ólafsdóttir has provided an Icelandic rendering of this definition which appears in her report "Environmental management & a tool for sustainable tourism".