Tourism is an important economic sector in the European Union and has the potential to further boost the economic development of EU and to create employment opportunities. However, tourism results in many unwanted consequences such as pressure on natural resources, waste generation and increased carbon footprints of certain tourism destinations in general. On the other hand, if managed and practiced in a responsible and sustainable way, tourism can contribute to the preservation and sustainable development of the natural environment and the entire “ecosystem” of the local destination.
The tourism value chain is a vast array of various stakeholders, from local and regional authorities, ministries of tourism, hospitality and accommodation entities, travel agencies, tour operators, tourism service providers and many more, all the way to that person renting parasols at a beach. Their adaptation to a more sustainable, low-carbon and resource efficient business models not only helps to protect the environment, but also provides a competitive advantage by creating important cost savings and improving the quality of the tourism offer. Moreover, it can address the growing consumer demand for an eco-friendlier tourism experience.
As indicated in by the European Commission, the tourism sector’s competitiveness is closely linked to its sustainability, as the quality of tourism destinations is strongly influenced by their natural and cultural environment and by their integration into a local community.