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A new report, to be presented at the Blue Tourism Forum taking place in Paris the 20th of June, highlights the need for better monitoring, cooperation and governance schemes between the tourism industry, governments and local communities, to drastically reduce the impact of coastal and maritime tourism on natural environment, in particular on ocean, air, land and water resources, while ensuring its resilience to climate events and increasing its contribution to sustainable development.

Accounting for 10% of the global GDP and employment, travel and tourism is one of the world’s largest industry, with a growth of 3.9% in 2018, well above the average global GDP growth (3.2%) for the past eight years. While well-managed tourism can be a source of revenue, jobs and economic dynamism, mass tourism puts high pressures on coastal ecosystems already subject to intense human impact. Indeed, international tourism already generates 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, mainly through air transport. Additionally, it is a major source of waste and marine litter, energy and water over-consumption, and land-use change through coastal built-infrastructures, which overall dramatically contributes to biodiversity loss, reduces the resilience to climate events and alters fragile ecosystems. Those negative impacts of mass tourism, driven by the rise of luxury cruises and beach resorts development globally, are putting in danger the livelihood of millions of people leaving in coastal communities, highly dependent on the quality of ocean and natural resources for food and water security. Those exponentially growing destinations, usually located in vulnerable countries with poor technical, financial or political ressources have very limited capability to adapt to climate change consequences such as sea-level rise, floods, fires or storms, or avoid environmental pollution or depletion of natural resources.

Environmental and social impacts from mass tourism

This report provides an assessment of the state of coastal and maritime tourism around the world, focusing on major marine regions such as the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Pacific and Indian Ocean. It identifies the main actors, future trends, common issues and set of solutions to green the blue tourism activities from resorts, hotels, cruises and eco-tourism facilities.

“Eco-friendly” coastal and maritime tourism

Jeremie Fosse, president of the NGO eco-union and co-founder of the initiative, says that “the blue tourism industry, which is one of the fastest growing economic sector worldwide with major international companies acting globally, has to reduce drastically its negative environmental impact on natural ecosystems while increasing its positive benefits on local communities losses to guarantee its own economic sustainability over the long term”.

Julien Rochette, director of the Ocean program at IDDRI and co-founder of the initiative, underlines “the need for better cooperation at the regional and global levels, to make tourism compatible with international commitments, such as SDGs and the Paris Agreement on climate change”.

Blue tourism initiative

Through the Blue Tourism initiative, a coalition of international civil society organizations led by the association eco-union, the think-tank IDDRI and the NGO Planet Mer, with the support of the French environmental agency ADEME and the French facility for global environment FFEM, aims to improve the environmental and social sustainability of Coastal & Maritime tourism through the development of innovative field projects related to eco-labels, citizen sciences and governance mechanisms around three vulnerable marine regions: the Mediterranean, the Western Indian Ocean and the Caribbean.

+ INFO (executive summary in French and English, full report in English):