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RESPONSIBLE TOURISM, SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

The development of tourism can influence the structure of the host society, creating or increasing social differentiation. This is because the benefits that remain in the destination region tend to be unequally distributed and are monopolised by a minority sector of the population.

Sustainable Tourism and Responsible Tourism. The consequences of tourist development, particularly in southern countries, seem to have been predominantly harmful. Nevertheless, some cases of alternative tourism run by the local community itself seem to show that a certain type of tourism, on a smaller scale and differently managed, can have positive effects. The issue, therefore, is Sustainable Tourism.

The World Tourism Organisation (WTO), on the basis of the definition of sustainable development established by the Brundtland Report, states that:

'The growth of Sustainable Tourism responds to the needs of tourists and of the host regions present, at the same time as it safeguards and improves opportunities for the future. It is envisaged as leading to management of all resources in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems.'

The concept of Sustainable Tourism is related to carrying capacity. This is defined as the maximum use that can be made of the region's economic, social, cultural and natural resources while satisfying visitors' expectations and without having a harmful impact for the host society or the environment. We can therefore speak of Sustainable Tourism when it does not exceed the carrying capacity of a destination area.

We must bear in mind that a responsible implementation of tourism can make it a useful instrument for reducing economic hardship in the countries of the south, providing opportunities for development and employment for all those living on less then one dollar a day.

The Walata Development Project opts for responsible tourism aimed at the traveller with cultural concerns rather than the massive influx of those tour operators interested solely in making a profit out of adventure tourism. Controlled tourist growth that respects the city's cultural and architectural heritage, its arts and crafts and its natural wealth and the pleasant, hospitable nature of its inhabitants will yield considerable benefits for the city and the rest of the region without detracting from Walata's principal features, which make it so attractive to anyone who has ever seen it.