With such high and definitely increasing demand, protection of culture and environment has become imperative.
"Sustainable tourism in its purest sense is an industry which attempts to make a low impact on the environment and local culture, while helping to generate income, employment, and the conservation of local ecosystems. It is responsible tourism which is both ecologically and culturally sensitive" http://www.gdrc.org/uem/eco-tour/eco-tour.html
ST makes maximum use of environmental resources without disturbing natural heritage and biodiversity, respecting socio-cultural authenticity of the region, and ensuring long term economic wellbeing of the stakeholders.
In relation to mass tourism, sustainable tourism is a specialised branch. Mass tourism is economically beneficial, easy to market, but is rather harsh on attractions. It no doubt cares for environment and cultural attractions; but not enough. It does not involve local communities as stakeholders and there is hardly any dialogue between communities, tourists and tour operators. It is a positive force for poor countries, which can, if allowed to go unbridled, also can harm local culture and environment. Pope John Paul II thought mass tourism was another way of exploiting local communities, even though mass tourism is vital for many countries. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/talking_point/1468503.stm). Responsible tourism like ST minimises the damage that could be caused by mass tourism to environment and culture.
Spain and Mediterranean coastlines offered mature mass tourism for decades now. Mass tourism has created complex issues like demands and pressures and new policies and planning techniques. It has also created the necessity of sustainable tourism application in this area. Uncontrolled tourism almost ruined the freshwater basin here. Italy and Greece too were adversely affected by mass tourism. "The mass model of sun and beach tourism which is characteristic of the Mediterranean coastline has caused both the spectacular urban, demographic and economic growth of small coastal towns once inhabited by farming and fishing families who eventually came to make their living from tourism, and the increasing degradation of their natural setting" http://geographyfieldwork.com/TourismMatureDestinations.htm This statement is true as the involved countries have only recently woken up into the enormity of the problems that tourism has created.
Mediterranean holidays deal with all major holiday brands and depend on seasonality. But in recent years, it had been seen as a single major threat to the pristine coastline and equally destructive to valuable wetlands even though tourism is the most important vehicle of growth.
Under these circumstances, Sustainable tourism that involves the local community in safeguarding and protecting the cultural and environmental assets of the region comes into picture and gives new hope. ST believes in the economic benefit of the region because tourism is connected with productivity, mobility, communication facilities and broadened horizons. "Obviously, these factors are interrelated, but a greater weight probably should be assigned to productivity than to the others," Smith (1989, p.41). Without further opportunity of productivity, it is difficult to