Sustainable Management of Tourism: Insights from Portugal
Keywords:Tourism, Sustainable Tourism, Sustainable Tourism Management, New Normal, Portugal
The importance of achieving effective sustainability performance in destinations worldwide has long been renowned (Cohen, 2002; UNEP and UNWTO, 2005; Castellani and Sala, 2010; Franzoni, 2015; McLoughlin and Hanrahan, 2019). Destination policy makers and planners have been working towards a continual and ongoing transition towards the development of sustainable industries for the past three decades. This has subsequently been influenced through the development, provision and implementation of sustainable tourism plans, policies and strategies at International, European, National and local levels. Such plans and strategies are aimed at promoting balanced development that ensures “tourism takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, while at the same time addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities” (UNEP and UNWTO, 2005). However, sustainability is a transition and learning process (Miller and Twining-Ward, 2006) and managing tourism growth together with addressing the needs of the industry, society and the environment as a whole has become a challenge for policy makers and DMO’s alike. Nevertheless, it is incremental that destinations look to develop new ways of planning and seek to achieve new strategic positions to ensure the long-term sustainability, competitiveness and resilience of destinations moving into the future.
In Portugal, tourism growth has been exponential with tourist activity accounting for €18.4 billion in tourism revenue and responsible for employing over 416,000 people (Instituto Nacional de Estatística, 2020).Although, the industry has been impacted significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are positive signs that tourism numbers are beginning to increase once again and are expected to rise to pre-covid figures by the end of 2022, according to the European Commission (Costa, 2021). With this in mind, there is a fundamental need to make sustainability the “new normal” for destinations when planning for and managing tourism in both the short and longer term. Thus, for the purpose of this research, it is essential to understand the various impacts, both positive and negative, that can be generated by tourism activity to the economic, socio-cultural and environmental resource base in order to permit an examination into the current level of sustainable management of tourism in Portugal.
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