Since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, there has been a steady increase in the awareness around the world for the need to consider environmental and cultural issues in the Travel & Tourism industry and not simply its economic returns. There has been growing recognition that those who profit from tourism are not always those who have to bear its costs.
Governments, industry and academia have undertaken research and implemented actions to minimize the impacts of the ever increasing travel industry on the natural, human and built environment and to develop sustainable tourism practices. In 1996 the World Travel and Tourism Council, World Tourism Organization and the Earth Council worked together to produce "Agenda 21 for the Travel and Tourism Industry: Towards Ecologically Sustainable Development".
Ecotourism is a well-known term around the world, and more recently the importance of sustainable tourism has been gaining recognition. Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism are closely related and if anything, ecotourism rests within the scope of sustainable tourism.
Sustainable tourism refers to a broad range of tourism ventures that take into account ideas of sustainable development. Importantly, sustainable tourism development is supply driven rather than demand driven with consideration given to social, economic and environmental factors. It is planned within the carrying capacity of an area – both ecologically and culturally – and control of the development remains within the community as much of the economic benefits as possible.
Pakistan has a great opportunity for the tourism development based on its spectacular natural landscapes and unique cultural heritage. Tourism is one economic activity that has the potential to bring considerable benefits to the nation. If it is managed effectively tourism can be used as a vehicle to deliver socio-economic benefits directly to rural and remote areas.
To guard against past mistakes and to help promote best practices in the future, it is important to recognize the need for partnership and cooperation for the development of sustainable tourism in Pakistan. All stakeholders should join hands to adopt the internationally recognized nature and culture friendly practices to insure the sustainable development of tourism sector in coming years.
What is Sustainable Tourism?
"If tourism contributes to the maintenance and improvement of biological resources and their diversity;
If it ensures the preservation of culture and values of people and strengthens community identity;
If a process is set in motion in which the benefits of tourism are broadly shared and a wider participation in decision-making related to development and the management of natural resources is promoted;
If economically efficient, positive backward and forward linkages among economic activities are increased to relieve the pressure on fragile resources and contribute to improvements in the quality of life of the population; and if resources are managed in ways, which not only support present needs but also supports the needs and aspirations of future generations; Then the presumption is that tourism is sustainable."
The Sustainable Tourism Foundation Pakistan (STFP) has been formed by a group of eminent professionals from the tourism industry as well as Environmentalists as a non-profit and non-political organization to promote environmentally responsible and sustainable practices in the tourism industry of Pakistan, as a national body. The Foundation has been registered under the Societies Registration Act XXI, 1860.
STFP will work closely with Federal and Provincial Governmental bodies responsible for the promotion of tourism as well as network with private sector organizations and other like-minded national, regional and international bodies to facilitate and support synergy of policies, initiatives and activities at local and national level.