Sustainable Tourism

Tourism is one of the world’s fastest growing industries and is a major source of income for many countries. International tourism ranks fourth (after fuels, chemicals and automotive products) in global exports, with an industry value of US$1 trillion a year. The number of international tourist arrivals is expected to reach 1.6 billion by 2020 and 2.6 billion by 2050 (UNWTO).

The quality of the environment is essential to tourism. But the negative impacts of tourism development can gradually destroy the environmental resources on which it depends. Sustainable tourism is defined as tourism that respects both local people and the traveller, cultural heritage and the environment. If sustainable, tourism has the potential to create beneficial effects on the environment by contributing to environmental protection and conservation. It may become a way to raise awareness of environmental values and serve as a tool to finance protection of natural areas and increase their economic importance.

A sustainable tourism industry, particularly in countries approaching development, may create profitable local economies that secure natural capital for present and future generations. Likewise, it may be the cheapest, fastest and most effective way to incentivize conservation by the inhabitants of vulnerable ecosystems.




SMEC ProgrammeThe Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, Güicán, y Chita is home to Colombia’s most vulnerable glaciers and attracts over 8.000 visitors every year. The SMEC Programme is thought to help the local farming community transition to income generation via sustainable tourism that is based on participative reforestation, organically grown produce and traditional medicinal knowledge. Read more



SFEC Module 3The Lost City archaeological park in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, is one of the top tourism destinations in Colombia. Over 10.000 tours to the site are being sold every year despite very poor infrastructures. In partnership with the Global Heritage Fund, the SFEC Module 3 will link the Lost City tourism with the restoration of ecological corridors in the region and integrate local income generation with organic crops. Read more





sierra-01 adopttree-01photographer-01