Sustainable tourism is tourism that contributes to sustainable development. Although interpretations of the details of sustainable development often differ, there is a consensus between all stakeholders that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights offers a common basis to start working from. Its signatories "have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom".
The declaration offers a tool to work on social and ecological issues, and through institutions as the UNCSD and the Guiding Principle for Business and Human Rights they are offering common ground to operate for all stakeholders. The declaration is relevant for a number of issues related to Sustainable Tourism.
The development of tourism has the potential to promote social progress and better standards of life. It has a huge impact on the social, cultural, ecological and economic conditions of the communities visited.
According to the WTTC 100 million people are employed directly in tourism. Labour rights and the quality of jobs have always been a contended issue because of its seasonality, the lack of career options, gender discrimination, unequal pay, higher jobs for foreigners and lower positions for locals, the right to organize in unions etc. Although improvements seemed to have been made they have been undermined by developments in the way the tourism industry is organized.
Land is one of the most important and scarce resources needed by communities for their livelihood: for food, housing, hunting, natural resources and often for cultural and religious reasons. The development of tourism always involves new uses of land for its infrastructure and activities and it will therefor compete with the needs for land by local communities, farmers and fishermen.
In many tourism destinations water is scarce. A tourist can use up to 40 times the amount a local inhabitant will use. And all this water has to be disposed of through sewage systems that hardly have any cleaning facilities, so that the water that is available to the colcal communities ends up being polluted. Although the original Universal Declaration has no specific Human Right on water, this right was established by the General Assembly of the UN in 2010, based on articles from several other Human Rights declarations.
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