Swiss Sustainability Forum: Sustainability in Swiss Tourism


Date: 31 March 2023

As any other sphere of human activity, tourism needs to be sustainable, to ensure an equitable access to and enjoyment of resources to present and future generations. The very meaning of tourism is to discover new territories, experience tangible and intangible attractions, meet people and learn about their culture. If considered this way – instead of being driven by consumerism or yearning to collect many superficial experiences – tourism can be a means of peace and pacific coexistence, a catalyst of knowledge and mutual respect, it can help to fight against poverty and inequalities.

Sustainability in tourism is mainly considered with reference to behaviours and practices related to the environment, the economy and the society. An environmentally sustainable tourism is one that limits wastes and pollution, makes a balanced use of natural resources and respects the natural landscape. From an economic point of view, sustainability in tourism means that related activities do provide a (reasonable) profit hence not needing to rely on external resources, as well as that value for money for products and services is guaranteed. At the social level, sustainability means that tourists’ behaviors and practices need to be compliant with the values, habits and social norms of local communities and cultural groups. If one visits a city, it is important that s/he does not only know which are its most important monuments, but also that s/he becomes aware of the history behind them, of how citizens live, of which challenges they face. If one climbs up a mountain, besides respecting natural limits not to endanger his/her own life, s/he should admire its beauty respecting it and creating, this way, a sort of bound with the natural elements, which is made up of knowledge and appreciation. If one takes part in a local ritual or buys an artifact of traditional craftsmanship, s/he should acknowledge the specific values and beliefs attached to it.

Sustainability in tourism is linked to issues of authenticity, awareness, cultural respect, quality of products. It is such an important topic today in tourism, that several official tourism bodies have developed ad hoc strategies and launched dedicated campaigns to sensitize both tourists and service providers.

The Swiss Sustainability Forum 2023 will focus on global and local issues related to sustainability in tourism. It will gather scholars and practitioners to present research, practices and initiatives, so to provide a state-of-the art about the topic in the field, develop a shared comprehensive vision and inspire future actions.