Blog post

World Tourism Day: How can we tackle the impact of tourism on the environment?

To mark World Tourism Day, Peter Wiltshier, Lecturer in Tourism and Spa at the University of Derby, discusses how, with the help of communities, people can help keep tourism alive.

By Peter Wiltshier - 27 September 2017

Tourism continues to be a fast-growing activity globally. This is despite our concerns over the impact that movement of three billion people are having on the environment and our shared and growing concern over pollution and congestion of destinations.

The very fact that at least half of the globe's population is constantly on the move indicates our need to tackle the pollution, congestion, contesting of physical spaces and potentially negative effect on agriculture, clean water, fishing, forestry, polar ice caps and deteriorating stores of water and oxygen.

What can be done?

There are several approaches that may prove beneficial to our adaptability in the face of this unrivalled mobility of people.

  1. One is the use of tourism as a force-for-good through educative strategy and activity.
  2. A second is the way in which our undoubted increased capacity to travel can be used to improve understanding between countries and create environments at destinations that help us to better understand others' ways of thinking, beliefs and religions.
  3. Another approach is to build safe, secure, sound and confident communities from the inside, from the bottom-up. This approach is predicated on the intent, capacity and capability of each community to reassure itself and then disseminate and proselytise its values and beliefs within the region, or nation context.

The role of communities in tourism

Christopher Ray, back in 1988, identified that communities, that is, destinations with some physical, social and economic congruence, first need to distill, discuss and disseminate their own beliefs and values prior to embarking on any journey to tourism. Through a four-stage process this effective planned action means the community agrees on a way forward with largely commonly shared ways of thinking that will drive the teams to be engaged with active processes to determine how visitors can be welcome in a safe, orderly and beneficial to all way.

If communities can reach agreement on 'what we do around here' then the physical components required for tourism can be determined and the route to markets to ensure viability of any action to support increased visits also agreed upon.

What's happening in Derbyshire?

In Derbyshire, this process is being undertaken by Derbyshire County Council with active support from Derby City Council. Our local values and beliefs underpin the development of such products as the 'Grand Tour'. Through this campaign visitors can enjoy the experiences of England by re-tracing the steps of the aristocracy and explore our English heritage through the cultural themes from the eighteenth century. Local communities are empowered by the endogenous opportunity to start in their own community with smaller components of the 'Grand Tour', such as local museums creating the building blocks of the visitor experience through 'Collections in the Landscape'. Such collections in museums, that encourage visitors to experience and engage with our wonderful natural environment in the Peak District, constitute the building blocks for an offer to visitors that is built upon those shared values and beliefs that date back a millennium.

Sharing our values and beliefs with visitors helps build understanding of where we potentially endanger people with pollution, deprivation in wellbeing, fear of congestion and stressors created by crowding, poor understanding of all motivations from tourists.

Start with the community and build upon those shared beliefs and we can see a way forward for years of tourism to come.

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About the author

Peter Wiltshier
Senior Lecturer in Tourism Destination Management at Buxton

Programme Leader BA (Hons) Travel & Tourism Management, Module Leader BA Travel and Tourism Management, Countryside Management (Joint Honours). I value tourism's contribution to community development and endorse approaches to building vibrant and empowered people working to build destinations of distinction.