The importance of sustainability in tourism

Sustainable tourism is the best chance for tour operators to limit the negative effects of tourism and focus on maximising the positive effects instead.

by | Mar 25, 2020 | Sustainability | 2 comments

Creating a futureproof tourism industry

Tour operators have the possibility and responsibility to contribute to creating a futureproof tourism industry. It’s safe to say the tourism industry has great impact on economies and that it leaves a large footprint on the environment. Tourism also has the potential of benefiting the local economy, protecting the environment and protecting the future of tourism, if done sustainably.

Negative effects of tourism

Tourism can cause negative effects to its destinations. Due to the size of the tourism industry, the caused damage is enormous. A few examples of negative effects are:

  • Overtourism
  • Loss of cultural identity of destinations
  • Increased (plastic) pollution
  • Exploitation of wild animals for tourist entertainment
  • Destruction of monuments
  • Dependency on tourism

Luckily, the tourism industry can take responsibility and move towards a more sustainable tourism industry. It all comes down to tourism management and the choices tour operators make in their business. For example, their choices can support preservation of wildlife and nature, but on the other hand, it can put the animals into suffering.

The triple bottom line

Sustainable tourism is the best chance for tour operators to limit the negative effects of tourism and focus on maximising the positive effects instead. One of the most used models in sustainability is the triple bottom line. This framework focuses on balancing between people, planet and profit. It evaluates business performance and puts it in a broader perspective. All in order to create greater business value.

People, planet and profit-model

Sustainability in tourism is not a trick or marketing tool. It’s simply a way to ensure we can still travel in the future. It focuses on preserving the planet, taking care of each other and ourselves, and leaving a positive footprint. By basing our tourism practices upon People, Planet and Profit, we can ensure a futureproof tourism industry.


The aspect of planet is all about protecting natural areas and wildlife and supporting a viable natural environment. Focusing on the planet bottom line for a tour operator means contributing to conservation of natural areas, safeguarding wildlife and following animal welfare guidelines, using renewable energy resources, saving water and energy, reducing and recycling waste, and to reduce and compensate CO2 emissions.


The aspect of people focuses to take care of local communities and employees. To ensure equal opportunities, human rights and personal development for everyone. As tour operator, you can ensure a fair society by being collaborative and respectful towards local communities. Involve them in the benefits of tourism. Thereby, also be fair and transparent towards your employees and offer them development and growth opportunities.


The aspect of profit concentrates on a sufficient economy and profitable business growth. Within the tourism industry, we need funds to create positive impact worldwide and to make changes in our industry. As tour operator, contribute to this by making sure you run an ethical business. Prevent leakage by buying local products and services and invest in responsible projects and use your profitable growth to do good for the world and yourself.

Common grounds

By combining the different elements you can increase your impact:

  • The overlap between planet and people focuses on health & safety, legislation and public awareness about protecting the environment and benefitting local people
  • The overlap of planet and profit focuses on resource efficiency, global climate and energy issues
  • The overlap of planet and people focus on local economies, employment, and training and development

As tour operator, it’s important to determine how sustainability fits into your business. It will work differently for you than for your competitor. And that’s a good thing! At the Good Tourism Institute, we believe that sustainable tourism and making profits can go hand in hand. You can run a successful business, and care for the environment, local communities and animal welfare at the same time.


  1. Helma Matthijssen / Maroc Travel

    I like your idea so munch Anne & Rik. It would be very nice if you could especially help the small ones in business with concrete tools

    • Rik van den Brink

      Hi Helma,

      Happy to hear you like the Good Tourism Institute! The upcoming time we will be regularly posting new additions to our library. What subjects would interest you most?

      Kind regards,


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About <a href="" target="_self">Anne de Jong</a>

About Anne de Jong

Anne is a passionate change maker and fascinated by the tourism industry. Wanting to contribute to a futureproof tourism industry, she supports tour operators and destinations to become more resilient and sustainable.

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