In the dynamic evolution of global tourism, the concept of sustainability has evolved to encompass not only environmental considerations but also the impact on local communities and cultures. Indeed, social sustainability in tourism has emerged as a critical dimension, recognising the intrinsic connection between tourism and the well-being of communities.
At the heart of social sustainability in tourism lies the recognition of the socio-cultural fabric of destination communities. In fact, tourism has the potential to empower local populations economically and socially when responsibly managed. There are many practices that companies and DMOs can adopt to put a special focus on people, and they often prioritise the inclusion of local communities in decision-making processes. This approach ensures that local communities will feel personally involved in tourism systems and will share a sense of pride and membership. Another aspect to consider is the equitable distribution of economic benefits by channelling a significant part of revenue back into the local economy. This fosters economic resilience, reduces poverty, and creates new job opportunities within the community. Finally, tourism actors should preserve the local culture and make sure that visitors will celebrate and respect it.
MOYO’s field training was designed to have a positive impact on the hosting local community. In fact, all meals were locally-sourced, the guide who spent with us two days in the National Park is a member of the Wildlife Adventures Team – an esteemed local partner. Plus, all overnight accommodations were thoughtfully organised in facilities managed by local partners.
All these arrangements were a unique opportunity for us to meet and talk to locals, understand their thoughts and experiences related to topics we discussed in our lessons. I will treasure the memories of thirteen people from all over the world sitting together at the table and sharing a meal in an atmosphere of mutual interest and understanding. Personally, I believe that all aspects of social sustainability are what make a trip truly authentic. They are what allow travels to engage with what is different from home and foster a sense of connection between tourists and locals.
In conclusion, social sustainability is an indispensable pillar of responsible tourism that involves governments, businesses, locals, and tourists themselves. By prioritising the well-being of local communities, tourism serves as a driver for positive change promoting economic development, cultural preservation, and social empowerment.
This is part 3 of Alice Giancaterino's blogs for MOYO on Nature Positive Tourism. Stay tuned for more!