7th International Conference on Sustainable Tourism, 18 – 20 May 2016. Valéncia, Spain

7th International Conference on Sustainable Tourism

18 – 20 May 2016. Valéncia, Spain

Sustainable Tourism 2016 is the seventh meeting organised in this successful series. The first was held in Segovia (2004), followed by Bologna (2006), Malta (2008), the New Forest, home of the Wessex Institute (2010), A Coruña (2012) and Opatija, Croatia in 2014.
Today tourism is an important component of development, not only in economic terms but also for knowledge and human welfare. Tourism has long since ceased to be something just for the privileged few and today is an activity accessible to a growing number of people. The phenomenon has many more advantages than disadvantages. New forms of economic development and increasing wealth of human societies depend on tourism. Our knowledge of the world now includes a strong component due to tourism. Human welfare has physiological and psychological elements, which tourism promotes, both because of the enjoyment of knowing new territories and increasing contacts with near or far away societies and cultures.
The tourism industry has nevertheless given rise to some serious problems, including social costs and ecological impacts. Many ancient local cultures have practically lost their identity. Their societies have oriented their economy only to this industry. Both the natural and cultural – rural or urban – landscapes have also paid a high price for certain forms of tourism. These problems will persist if economic benefit is the only target, leading to economic gains that eventually become ruinous. It is also a grave error to disregard the fact that visitors nowadays are increasingly demanding in cultural and environmental terms.
Never before have transport and communication links been so important as today. Natural ecosystems are now a rarity on the planet and ecologists talk today about ‘socio-ecosystems’. Given this, tourism and environmental education are facing a major challenge. The ‘Global Change’ is a set of natural environmental changes that are strongly affected by technological and social developments. Natural changes are inherent in the Earth’s ecosystem (the ‘ecosphere’). Also, technological and social changes are inherent to mankind (the ‘noosphere’), and are now becoming widespread. Cities are growing rapidly and industry requires increasingly larger areas. Many traditional rural areas are being abandoned.

Tourism should also play an important role in this context. Thus, interestingly, many historic agricultural districts have maintained, or even recovered,their local population numbers through intelligent strategies of tourism focused on nature and rural culture. Natural landscapes and biodiversity are becoming increasingly appreciated. The tourism industry must be able to respond to these aspirations. Sustainable Tourism 2016 aims to find ways to protect the natural and cultural landscape through the development of new solutions which minimise the adverse effects of tourism. This can be achieved through new strategies involving the active collaboration of society as a whole.

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