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Tourism provides abundant opportunities for employment, investment, infrastructure expansion, and cultural exchanges. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism accounted for 7% of global trade and more than USD1.4 trillion of expenditure that created jobs and momentum for socioeconomic development. However, its benefits often come at the cost of environmental pollution, commercialization of local cultural activities, biased and insecure work opportunities, and imbalanced development focuses, undermining the sustainability of host communities.
As tourism is increasingly viewed as an engine for rural development, it is crucial to identify strategies for adopting “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment, and host communities,” as the World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism.
Recognizing that sustainable tourism had become an essential strategy and goal for countries and communities aspiring to benefit from their natural and cultural assets, the APO Secretariat , in organizing a digital multicountry workshop on Sustainable Ecotourism, 1–3 November, to enhance the awareness of sustainable tourism. Withresource from the ROC, Fiji, India, Israel, and Japan, 16 participants representing 10 APO members discussed the trends, policies, and good practices of sustainable tourism and available tools that supported its development.
Participants shared their views on the challenges faced by tourism operators, destinations, and communities. They also identified new opportunities that could be created when tourism was managed in a socially, culturally, and environmentally responsible manner, paving the way for sustainability in the sector.