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Myths and Misconceptions of Sustainable Tourism

We all are aware of the potential of the tourism industry's direct, indirect and induced contribution to the GDP. Many nations are very keen on offering their unique natural and cultural experiences to the world. But what many of them are still not sure about, is adopting sustainable tourism approach. The contestation about the concept of sustainable tourism, differences in its implementations, and understanding of different terminologies have created myths and misconceptions about sustainable tourism. That restricts the practitioners from adopting sustainability in their tourism activities, policies, and decisions.

1. Sustainable tourism is different from conventional tourism It is often assumed that sustainable tourism is something completely different than the traditional or conventional tourism practices. And therefore, it often gets ignored. But sustainable tourism is not different but an inclusive approach towards tourism practices. It is about conserving the environment, considering the community and benefits to them, and also creating the best experience for tourists while continuing conventional practices such as - creating packaged tours, marketing strategies, and doing a profitable business. Sustainable tourism is not about seeking isolation from conventional tourism but rather by forging structural, spatial, and conceptual links to the existing packaged tourism industry.

2. It is for the small-scale initiative Another very common myth of sustainable tourism is sustainable tourism is only for small-scale organization and not for big tourism businesses. But as per the definition by UNWTO, 'Sustainable tourism development guidelines and management practices are applicable to all forms of tourism in all types of destinations, including mass tourism and the various niche tourism segments.' Small-scale organizations will create positive impacts only on small-scale whereas large operators have a larger reach and potential to create expanded positive impact.

3. It is only related to the environment During the time when sustainable development was getting introduced in all the potential development sectors, it was only focused on environmental sustainability. Policy reforms focusing on few countries strengthened this identity of sustainable tourism as ecotourism. But sustainable tourism is not only about environmental conservation, but community growth, destination growth and economic progression of the countries.

4. It is expensive to practice The most common perception of sustainable tourism among travelers and practitioners is that sustainable choices are expensive. This is a result of lack of awareness and misunderstanding of the term. On a very basic level, common practices such as choosing local transportation, food, and guide that are not outsourced are money-saving practices.

5. It is a niche tourism The industry has seen the numerous negative impacts of mass tourism practices. To mitigate these effects, sustainable tourism operating in small groups is seen as a solution to it. Therefore, the industry and travelers started considering sustainable tourism as a niche tourism for small groups. But sustainable tourism is not about the size of a group traveling to any destination but what is the capacity of the destination. Therefore, it is not a specific niche type of tourism but an approach applicable to all types of tourism practices.

The industry is still facing a lot of confusion when it comes to practicing sustainable tourism. Making travelers, tour operators, facilitators, associations, and government bodies aware of the concept is very essential for sustainable, that means holistic growth.

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