Over the last few decades, tourism has become more readily available and more diversified, and has experienced a period of unprecedented growth. 2016 saw more than 1.2 billion international tourists, and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) forecasts 1.8 billion in 2030.
Tourism is an integral part of the economic development and the prosperity of many regions, but it is also closely linked to the management of waste, and of resources in general. On the eve of the summer tourist season, which will also see many outdoor events, how can tourism be combined with sustainability?
Tourism: a constantly growing factor of development that impacts local resources
Certain regions benefit from their natural, social and human assets to attract tourists, who contribute to local growth. The UNWTO estimates that tourism accounts for 10% of worldwide GDP and one in ten jobs, in catering, hotels, agriculture, retailing ... When they are away from home, tourists consume more in their quest for new discoveries and leisure, mainly on accommodation, food, transport and shopping. These alternative modes of consumer behaviour increase the consumption of resources, such as food and water, and the production of waste, and in particular of organic waste, disposable products and the packaging of food that can be consumed on the move. This situation becomes all the more complex when the tourists are unfamiliar with local habits or waste sorting systems. And they sometimes forget their usual habits when travelling abroad.
These high concentrations and fluctuations of visitors, in restricted areas and for short periods, also make waste management much more complex in tourist resorts, which are not always up to the task.
The events industry resembles the tourism industry in many ways, and faces the same waste management issues: short events, visitors instead of residents, multiple players and the diversity of the waste. On average, an event that attracts 1,000 people, consumes 200 KWh of energy, 100 kg of paper and produces 500 kg of waste, which is about the equivalent of the annual production of one French citizen (ADEME). Events play a leading role in tourism, as demonstrated by the rising number of visitors to events like the Cannes film festival, the bullfights in Nîmes, the Tour de France, or the Glastonbury festival.