Michael Pamfilos , pp. 48. TKS/Fysisk planering, 2005.
Global tourism is one of the biggest and fastest growing industries. According to the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) there are some 700 million international tourists worldwide annually, tourism and related activities contribute 11% to the world’s GDP, and the tourism sector is the largest employer accounting for some 255 million jobs or 10.7% of the global labor force (WTTC, 2002). The benefits of tourism, mainly economic, have been enormous especially for developing and poor countries that have limited sources of foreign currency. On the other hand however, the phenomenal growth of the sector has been accompanied by severe environmental and cultural damage, especially in destinations that are close to or have exceeded their carrying capacity limits. The cultural and environmental resources are the assets upon which tourism depends, so these unsustainable impacts of tourism do not only degrade a destination’s image, but also undermine the long term viability of the sector. Despite all the attention that has been drawn to this fact lately, tourism on a global scale seems to be moving farther from sustainability now than ever before (McKercher, 2003). Many newly emerging but also established destinations promote sustainability but adopt the same old practices with the same adverse effects that have been troubling tourism for decades.
Such a gap between ideology and practice is evident also in the case of Crete. The island underwent rapid tourism development over the last 30 years which resulted in tourism being a leading economic sector but bringing along several negative economic, environmental and cultural impacts. This dissertation offers a study of the Cretan tourism sector following a regional approach to the concept of sustainable tourism, analyzing the situation and the prospects for the region of Crete towards the transition to sustainability. The first chapter contains an introduction to the concept of sustainable tourism, and determines the criteria and indicators upon which the evaluation of the Cretan tourism sector is based. The second chapter follows the development pattern and proceeds with an assessment of the impacts of the tourism industry on the island according to a consistent set of sustainability criteria. The third and final chapter includes a criticism of current policies and outlines the essential requirements in order for the tourism sector to meet sustainable development, the principal goal of the region’s official development plans (ROP, 2001).
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