Statement of the Committee for Sustainable Development
endorsed by the Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 164th session (Brussels, 16 April 1999)

The Committee for Sustainable Development,

Recognising that the tourism industry has an increasingly important economic, social, cultural and environmental impact, both globally and on the national scale, and that the continuing growth of tourism and tourism-related activities has diverse implications for the achievement of sustainable development,

Recalling that issues of tourism were addressed by IPU on several occasions in recent years, such as the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Tourism held in 1989 in The Hague and the two International Fora "Parliaments and Local Authorities: Tourism Policy-Makers" organised by the World Tourism Organization with the support of IPU respectively in Cadiz (Spain) in 1995 and Bali (Indonesia) in 1996,

Believing that the tourism sector is a major driving force behind the economic advancement of many countries, including developing ones, where it fosters job creation, stimulates economic diversification and boosts foreign exchange earnings,

Realising at the same time that over-reliance on tourism, especially mass tourism, entails significant risks for tourism-dependent economies,

Noting that demand for new forms of tourism, including ecotourism, is growing in many parts of the world and presents new challenges for the tourism industry, national governments, parliaments and the international community,

Recognising the important role played by the World Tourism Organization in shaping the future of the global tourism industry, and recalling in this regard the rich record of co-operation between IPU and this body,

  1. Believes that projected sustained growth of the tourism industry will present serious challenges to environmental protection unless policy-makers develop effective regulatory policies and systems of economic incentives and disincentives and address the issue of promoting awareness of tourists, the tourism industry and the public at large of the importance of safeguarding the natural and cultural environment;
  2. Emphasises that linkages of tourism with other economic sectors necessitate its full integration into national development plans as well as the provision of adequate legislative support, for which parliaments bear primary responsibility, so that tourism develops in harmony with overall economic, social and environmental goals;
  3. Considers that an integrated policy framework for sustainable tourism development should include a mechanism ensuring that investment, employment, operational and other business decisions of tourism enterprises take full account of the wider implications of these actions for the long-term development and economic sustainability of the destinations in which they operate and that the carrying capacity of sites visited by tourists should be respected even if this implies restricting access to sites at certain periods or seasons;
  4. Supports the development of new and alternative forms of tourism, including ecotourism, which favour closer contact and understanding between tourists and receiving populations, respect cultural identity and preserve distinctive and original tourist products and facilities;
  5. Urges the international community to enhance and strengthen international co-ordination and relevant monitoring systems through liaison among governments, parliaments, the private sector and concerned parties with a view to promoting the positive aspects and minimising the negative impacts of tourism;
  6. Is convinced that national parliaments should show increased concern for tourism development and review existing laws on tourism, consolidate them into comprehensive legislation and codify national policy and priorities for tourism including such aspects as safety and security of tourists, spread of epidemic diseases such as AIDS, and elimination of terrorism, in particular by addressing its root causes;
  7. Energetically supports the view that the promotion of ecotourism should be given priority within overall tourism development planning and that effective mechanisms should be introduced to prevent and control tourism-related abuse and exploitation of people, particularly women and children;
  8. Urges national parliaments and other tourism policy-makers to support the objectives of the International Year of Ecotourism - 2002;
  9. With a view to deepening its reflection on the issue of tourism and sustainable development and in order to produce comprehensive recommendations for the Union's governing bodies in this regard, resolves to include a relevant item on the agenda of the session of the IPU Committee for Sustainable Development to be held in the year 2000.

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