Sustainable tourism: Some may have to make short-term sacrifices

Bangkok has been held as a success story in South-east Asia for becoming a top-ranked tourism destination with solid ideas for sustainable growth in this area. (Tourism must be sustainable to keep Asia growing ; July 17).

Bangkok aside, other destinations trying to achieve sustainable tourism may have to give up current revenues and limit capacity.

The challenge for some of these Asian destinations now is how existing unsustainable operations and activities can be reversed, or how existing facilities and infrastructure can be expanded or refurbished to ensure their long-term sustainability.

One solution was proposed and agreed on but has yet to be realised or implemented.

In January 2009, in Hanoi, the heads of the Asean Tourism Association (Aseanta) and the Asean Competitiveness Enhancement (ACE) Project agreed that there is a need “to develop a new, more effective marketing strategy which promotes South-east Asia as a single destination”.

Promoting South-east Asia as a single destination will help ensure that no single city, attraction or small island will be too heavily impacted or go beyond its “carrying capacity” .

The responsibility will then be a shared one for these South-east Asian nations working towards sustainability in the region. It will require them to plan, monitor and work together to determine their capacities.

Osman V. P. Mohamed