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International Organizations And Sustainable Tourism

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The tourism fraternity is one of the largest and fastest developing industries in the world.  It has remained pivotal in defining the economic status of most countries across the world. In addition, the industry has not only created wealth but also presented many individuals with employment opportunities thereby raising their standards of living. Tourism mainly involves the process by which the attractive aspects of nature including plants, animals and geographical sites are conserved through effective methods hence making these sites attractive to tourists. Individuals visit animal parks, natural sites comprising unique geographical set ups, lovely water bodies and beautiful forests harboring various species of plants and animals (Ashley and Goodwin, 2007). Such activities are always meant for entertainment and recreational purposes. However, when these regions are upgraded and conserved through the establishment of appropriate structures and management, the people visiting the tourist attraction sites are allowed to do so in exchange for a fee which in turn defines the industry as a major source of income for most countries. One of the basic aspects of tourism is the ecosystem which is the major platform on which all the attractive aspects about nature tend to exist. Consequently, the best approach to sustaining tourism would involve the implementation of efficient strategies to enhance the conservation of the ecosystem (Pronk, 2004)).  The human activities in addition to other factors act as a threat to the continuity in the ability of the ecosystem to sustain tourism. In order to curb this challenge, various international organizations like UNESCO, UNEP, OECD and UNTWO just to mention but few, have come up with and hence implemented strategies meant to enhance the sustainability of tourism. This paper discusses the role of international organizations in the planning and implementation of strategies aimed at tourism sustainability and development. 

Roles of International Organizations

Due to the crucial role of the tourism industry in defining the economic development of many countries, there is an inevitable need to identify and hence implement structures which would sustain its development. The environment is a crucial determinant of the extent to which a given region or surrounding remains attractive to tourists. The environment is characterized by the distribution of vegetation, type of soil, nature of terrain and the general topography. (Cooper et al., 2005). The vegetation in turn may attract animal activities leading to increase in population and the eventual complexity of the ecosystem. When this provision of nature is harnessed and improved through artificial means, for instance the creation of boundaries and confines, the environment is therefore converted into an important asset which earns the region good income through tourism. However, it is a fact worth noting that the environment ought to be sustained through effective measures.  This is the point where the roles of the international organizations become eminent. For instance, the United Nations Environmental Program has played a crucial role in enhancing environmental conservation which in turn has helped in maintaining a healthy balance within the ecosystem (Costa, 2001). In addition to offering educational services to societies around the tourist attraction areas on the importance of tourism attraction, UNEP has consistently provided material and financial support to most countries especially in Africa. These forms of aid are always meant to enable the better management of the tourist attraction sites.  For example, between 2000-2005, the organization rolled out a program cutting across most countries in Asia and Africa aimed at educating and supporting the society in a bid to encourage the conservation of the natural environment (Garlick, 2002). The main objective of the organization in this case was to realize the conservation of the natural habitat for the various species of plants and animals which were otherwise diminishing as a result of human activities such as industrialization and agriculture.

In order to enhance the sustainability of tourism, there is the need to upgrade the accessibility of the sites through good infrastructure and facilities. The international organizations have provided financial and material support to the tourism management bodies in a bid to assist in developing a good network of roads which in turn enhances accessibility (Gartner, 2003). The movement of tourists while within the attraction centers is adequately enhanced when the infrastructural arrangements are effective enough. Good network of roads go a long way in enhancing convenience especially when it comes to the movement of tourist into and within the attraction centers.  The other important aspect of good infrastructure is the establishment of a reliable system of communication.  Through communication, it becomes easier for the managers to have productive interactions with the clients, giving the schedules, charges and the necessary guidelines to support successful visits (Gössling, 2009). The international organizations such as UNEP and UNESCO have remained in the front row supporting different tourism bodies to help them achieve state of the art infrastructural systems. According to the World Commission on Environment and Development, the strategies applied to enhance sustainable tourism ought to be accompanied by the conservations of cultures, social and aesthetic values of the society.


The international organizations have been instrumental in helping the tourism regions to sustain the strategies meant for economic development. For instance, in 2012 the Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded the development of the Greater Mekong Subregion. Through this strategy, the region realized a tremendous increase in the number of tourists to about 44.8 million. The organization achieved this by streamlining the visa requirements in addition to improving land and air connectivity in the region. By creating the right media through which individuals can move, the international organizations do not only enhance the development of the tourism centers but empowers the surrounding society as well. Through this strategy, sustainability is easily achieved especially when the set standards are maintained.

Sustainable tourism largely calls for the effective management of the available natural resources in order to enhance the realization of economic and social benefits. In line with this argument it can be noted that the process of managing natural resources in order to sustain tourism may require special skills, idea and knowledge especially that of the ecosystem (Hughes, 2009). This therefore implies that the society needs constant exposure and education on matters of environmental conservation and management of the ecosystem. One of the international organizations which has remained instrumental in the provision of educational programs to the society is United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Being a pivotal member of the United Nations, the organization has introduced various educational programs in most countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. These programs are characterized by informative courses given to the members of the public on the benefits of environmental conservation which culminates in the conservation of the natural habits has sustaining tourism. The other example is the International Labor Organization which has worked closely with several tourism related bodies like the Ministry of Tourism Cambodia to ensure that the right employment procedures are used in a bid to enhance the workers’ welfare. The organization also encourages and supports staff empowerment through training and motivation. The trainings involve the introduction of scientific and more environmental friendly alternatives to human activities especially those that lead to environmental pollution. For instance, through the educational programs, the international bodies sensitize the members of the society on alternative and safer methods of waste disposal which go a long way in minimizing water, air and land pollution. Through these, the natural habitats for both plants and animals are conserved which offers a good ground on which the development of tourism can be based.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) has done a crucial job in introducing effective strategies aimed at enhancing sustainable tourism. The organization has done this by working closely with the governments of the affiliated countries, suggesting and implementing the relevant policies meant at enhancing the effective management of resources. The organization for instance encourages the governing authorities to implement staunch measures and punishments on individuals found guilty of environmental degradation by taking part in illegal activities (Korstanje and George, 2012). For instance, the World Tourism Organization has remained in the fore front on the war against unfair treatment of wildlife through illegal activities such as poaching (Lemelin, Dawson and Stewart, 2013). The international organization has also suggested effective approaches which would be used to modernize the process of tourism management. Such approaches may involve the use of modern structures in putting up boundaries to protect the wildlife from unwanted human activities (Phelps, 2006). The organization also supports the managers through seminars and exhibitions where the tourism employees as well as the other members of the society are empowered to various natural resource management measures.

The core objective of sustainable tourism is to promote social, economic and aesthetic values. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has played a crucial role in enhancing the achievement of the objective above. The organization does this by promoting and suggesting the necessary policies to the various governing authorities across the world (Richardson and Crompton, 2008). These policies when implemented enhance economic, social and aesthetic values. The organization therefore creates the society, the visible link between effective management of natural resources and the resulting economic, social and aesthetic benefits of these activities. The role of OECD in this case involves encouraging the society to capture the economic and social importance of the natural environment in sustaining tourism and hence embrace the need to conserve this very environment.


From the discussion above, it can be deduced that the international organizations have played a good role in enhancing the sustainability of tourism activities in various countries across the world. Organizations such as UNEP, UNESCO, ADB, OECD, ILO and UNTWO have taken part in various initiatives aimed at empowering the society on the need for environmental conservation which in turn enhances sustainable tourism. The organizations enhance sustainable tourism through educational programs offered to both the employees and the members of the public. They also provide financial and material support to aid in the establishment of better structures which make tourism management easier and effective. Finally, in coordination with the governing authorities, the international organizations have introduced polices aimed not only at regulating undesired human activities but promoting safe practices which retain the balance within the ecosystem. This consequently goes a long way in enhancing sustainable tourism.



Ashley, D. and Goodwin, H (2007) Pro-Poor Tourism Strategies: Making Tourism Work for the Poor, London: ODI.

Cooper, Chris; et al. (2005) Tourism: Principles and Practice. Harlow: Pearson Education

Costa, P. (2001) ‘Managing tourism carrying capacity of art cities’. The Tourist Review, 46(4),  pp. 8–11.

Garlick, S. (2002) ‘Revealing the unseen: Tourism, art and photography’. Cultural Studies, 16(2), pp. 289–305.

Gartner, W. (2003) ‘Image formation process’. Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing, 2, pp.    191–216

Gössling, S. (2009) ‘Ecotourism: a means to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem functions’.   Ecological Economics 29(2), pp. 303-320.

Hughes, H.  (2009) ‘Tourism and the arts’. Tourism Management, 10(2), pp. 97–99.

Korstanje, M.  and George, B. (2012) ‘Global warming and tourism: chronicles of apocalypse?’. Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes, 4(4), pp. 332-355.

Lemelin, H., Dawson, J. and Stewart, E. (2013) Last chance tourism: adapting tourism  opportunities in a changing world. New York: Routledge.

Phelps, A. (2006) ‘Holiday destination image: The problem of assessment—an example   developed in Minorca’. Tourism Management, 7(3), pp. 168–180.

Pronk, J. (2004) Catalysing development? A debate on aid, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Richardson, S. and Crompton, J. (2008) ‘Cultural variations in perceptions of vacation  attributes’. Tourism Management, 9(2), pp. 128-36.


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