Sustainable Coastal & Marine Tourism

Coastal and marine tourism represents at least 50 percent of total global tourism. It constitutes the largest economic sector for most small island developing states and many coastal states. Securing the long-term sustainability and viability of this sector is critical for the continued prosperity of the destinations and communities that rely on it.

Full Report
Summary
Overview

Coastal and marine tourism is highly dependent on the quality of coastal and marine ecosystems to attract visitors—and it is extremely vulnerable to threats such as climate change and biodiversity loss. A healthy ocean is therefore the foundation upon which this sector is able to thrive. Ensuring the long-term health of the ocean is critical to support the local communities and economies which rely on the tourism industry.

A sustainable, regenerative and resilient coastal and marine tourism sector has the potential to be the foundation for a sustainable ocean economy—delivering on the vision for protection, production and prosperity—by stimulating new high quality economic opportunities for local communities, restoring the natural environment and revitalising culture and heritage.

The global pandemic has offered a circuit breaker to reflect on traditional forms of coastal and marine tourism that are no longer sustainable or viable and implement changes to reshape the sector. It has offered a unique and timely opportunity for bold action and political leadership.

In December 2020, the Ocean Panel launched the ‘Transformations for a Sustainable Ocean Economy: A Vision for Protection, Production and Prosperity’ which included an ambitious goal for coastal and marine tourism, that by 2030 ‘Coastal and ocean-based tourism is sustainable, resilient, addresses climate change, reduces pollution, supports ecosystem regeneration and biodiversity conservation and invests in local jobs and communities’.

To inform efforts to achieve this goal, the Ocean Panel commissioned an unprecedented body of work dedicated to coastal and marine tourism:

  • A Special Report titled ‘Opportunities for Transforming Coastal and Marine Tourism: Towards Sustainability, Regeneration and Resilience’ which considers the socio-economic argument for shifting to a more sustainable tourism model as part of recovery efforts from the global pandemic. The report provides a holistic assessment of the current state of coastal and marine tourism and draws on 32 case studies and examples from 23 countries to identify a set of priorities designed to help catalyse systemic change in destination-wide management through strategic investment and intervention by governments to support sustainable recovery from the global pandemic; and
  • A series of over 40 Expert Perspectives from leading global tourism experts across industry, finance, IGOs, NGOs, academic and government which provide insights and inspiration for the future of coastal and marine tourism. (See below)

 

Opportunities for Action

The report identifies five foundational priorities that will help initiate destination-wide systemic change in coastal and marine tourism as part of recovery efforts:

  • Focus tourism policies, plans, product development and marketing on attracting visitors, both domestic and international, who wish to engage genuinely with the communities and destinations they visit and support in the regeneration of the local environment, economy and community.
  • Develop strategies to increase sustainable and resilient financing for conservation and restoration activities, including MPA management and enforcement, leveraging user fees and environmental taxes and also building long-term solvency through the establishment and endowment of conservation trust funds to ensure conservation funding is resilient to downturns in visitation.
  • Collect, integrate and maintain data on sustainability indicators, including through national ocean and tourism accounts, to inform local authorities on how to manage operational externalities, target appropriate investment for sustainability requirements and move beyond an over-reliance on GDP.
  • Undertake value chain analysis to align strategies and interventions to eliminate leakage and boost local economic prosperity, including through upskilling local communities across the tourism value chain.
  • Utilise collaborative management arrangements and co-operative partnerships to promote engagement of all stakeholders in decision-making and share expertise and resources for sustainability.

In addition to these five priorities, the report identifies a suite of destination-wide and industry-specific opportunities for action, aligned with each pillar of action, to support more sustainable, regenerative and resilient coastal and marine tourism by 2030.

The report also provides a new comprehensive set of indicators incorporating the concepts of regeneration and resilience and tailored to the sustainability of coastal and marine tourism destinations to support governments to target appropriate investment for sustainability requirements and move beyond an over-reliance on GDP.

Examples of innovation and leadership exist in all regions, and across the spectrum of stakeholders engaged in coastal and marine tourism, but these are not yet happening on an industry-wide scale. A transformation of the coastal and marine tourism sector will require intervention and action from all tourism stakeholders, including the visitor, industry, community and government, as well as collaboration across the public and private sectors, development partners, communities and destinations.

Expert Perspectives
Vision Setting: A Sustainable Coastal and Marine Tourism Sector in 2030 and 2050
What is sustainable coastal and marine tourism in 2030 and 2050? What are three key shifts needed by 2025 to achieve this ambitious vision?
Daniel Gschwind
Daniel Gschwind
Chief Executive, Queensland Tourism Industry Council
Gloria Fluxa Thieneman
Gloria Fluxa Thieneman
Vice-Chairman & CSO, Iberostar Group
Randy Durband
Randy Durband
CEO, Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)
Gloria Làzaro
Gloria Làzaro
Programme Officer en Plan Bleu (UNEP/MAP)
Caroline Tippett
Caroline Tippett
Vice President of Ocean Markets and Finance, World Wildlife Fund
Building Back Better: A Catalyst for Change
Why does the global pandemic offer an unprecedented opportunity for transformation for coastal and marine tourism? What are the most promising opportunities and what are the challenges that must be overcome to seize these opportunities?
Zoritsa Urosevic
Zoritsa Urosevic
Executive Director, UNWTO
Simon Milne
Simon Milne
Director, New Zealand Tourism Research Institute, Auckland University of Technology
Sarah Fangman
Sarah Fangman
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent
Jeremy Sampson
Jeremy Sampson
CEO of the Travel Foundation
Sam Teicher
Sam Teicher
Co-Founder, Coral Vita
Transformation: The Role of Coastal and Marine Tourism in a Sustainable Ocean Economy
How can coastal and marine tourism be a foundational building block for supporting countries to transition to a sustainable ocean economy?
Valerie Hickey
Valerie Hickey
Global Director of the Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy Global Practice, World Bank
Republic Of Namibia
Republic Of Namibia
Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism
Nathalie Corredor
Nathalie Corredor
SVP Corporate Development, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Caitrin O’Brien
Caitrin O’Brien
VP Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Sue Snyman
Sue Snyman
Director of Research, School of Wildlife Conservation, The African Leadership University
Planning: Innovation in Sustainable Ocean Planning to Incentivize a Shift to Sustainable Coastal and Marine Tourism
How have planning instruments and governance mechanisms been a catalyst for change in the coastal and marine tourist sector? What are examples of innovation that could be replicated or scaled?
Amy Trice
Amy Trice
Director, Ocean Planning Ocean Conservancy
Darrell Wade
Darrell Wade
Co-founder and Chairman of Intrepid Travel
Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico
Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico
Secretaría de Turismo y Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores de México
Patricio Azcárate Díaz de Losada
Patricio Azcárate Díaz de Losada
Secretary General, Responsible Tourism Institute
Equity: Ensuring Everyone Can Benefit from Coastal and Marine Tourism
What has been effective in increasing the benefits that flow to local communities, reducing the impacts of coastal and marine tourism on local communities and avoiding widening inequalities?
Dr. Fanny Douvere
Dr. Fanny Douvere
Head of UNESCO Marine World Heritage Programme
Freya Higgins-Desbiolles
Freya Higgins-Desbiolles
Visiting Professor Centre for Research and Innovation in Tourism, Taylor’s University (Malaysia); Adjunct Associate Professor Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, University of Waterloo (Canada); Adjunct UniSA Business, University of South Australia (Australia)
Prof. Amran Hamzah
Prof. Amran Hamzah
Professor in Tourism Planning and IUCN WCPA Regional Vice-Chair Southeast Asia
Marit Liv Miners
Marit Liv Miners
Co-founder of Misool Resort and Misool Foundation
Dr. Ray Mutinda Ndivo
Dr. Ray Mutinda Ndivo
Senior Tourism Lecturer, Murang’a University of Technology, Kenya; Tourism Consultant, UN Economic Commission for Africa
Voices: Inclusive and Participatory Models for Coastal and Marine Tourism
What tools or mechanisms have been effective in creating opportunities for impactful engagement of stakeholders in the development of coastal and marine tourism? How do these tools or mechanisms need to be tailored to ensure active inclusion of particularly vulnerable or disenfranchised members of the community?
The Honourable Randy Boissonnault
The Honourable Randy Boissonnault
Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance, Canada
Lisa Bishop
Lisa Bishop
President, Friends of Hanauma Bay
Joyatri Ray
Joyatri Ray
Director, Equitable Tourism Options
Suma TR
Suma TR
State representative, Kerala; Lead, Protected Areas, Communities and Tourism
Financing: Connecting Ambition with the Means to Achieve Sustainability
What finance mechanisms exist to support investment in sustainable coastal and marine tourism models and overcome key barriers to achieving scale? What else is needed?
Kathryn J Mengerink JD, PhD
Kathryn J Mengerink JD, PhD
Executive Director, Waitt Institute
Shaun Mann
Shaun Mann
Senior Private Sector Specialist, The World Bank Group
Louise Twining-Ward
Louise Twining-Ward
Senior Private Sector Specialist, The World Bank Group
Andrea Bacher
Andrea Bacher
Independent Consultant and Senior Advisor, Sustainable Blue Economy and Finance, Clima Capital Partners
Eleanor Carter
Eleanor Carter
Founder & Executive Director, Sustainable Solutions International Consulting (SSIC); Co-Director Chumbe Island Coral Park
Sibylle Riedmiller
Sibylle Riedmiller
Founder-Director of Chumbe Island Coral Park; Chair of the Conservation Committee on the Board of Directors of the Hotels Association of Tanzania (HAT).
Resilience: Ensuring a Future for Coastal and Marine Tourism
How can the resilience of coastal and marine tourism be strengthened and how can coastal and marine tourism help strengthen the resilience of host destinations and communities? Consider resilience to exogenous threats, such as climate change, as well as unpredictable future shocks, such as global pandemics.
Sally Yozell
Sally Yozell
Senior Fellow & Director, Environmental Security Program, The Stimson Center
Wouter Schalken
Wouter Schalken
Asian Development Bank Senior Sustainable Tourism Specialist
Graham Harper
Graham Harper
Pacific Asia Travel Association, Special Advisor—Sustainability & Social Responsibility
Mark Spalding
Mark Spalding
Senior Marine Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
Bruce Prideaux
Bruce Prideaux
Professor at Central Queensland University, Australia
Collaboration: Building Partnerships for Innovation and Success
How can collaboration and partnerships support the shift to sustainability? Consider the role of public private partnerships to promote innovation and overcome barriers to entry and/or regional collaboration as a mechanism to reduce risk? What are examples of success?
Carina Ren, PhD
Carina Ren, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Culture and Learning; Head, Aalborg University Arctic
Melinda Watt
Melinda Watt
Vice President Relationship Management & Chief Scientist, EarthCheck
Marina Novelli
Marina Novelli
Professor at University of Brighton, UK
Cruises: The Future of Cruise Tourism
What does sustainability mean for the cruise industry and how can this be achieved in light of the impact the pandemic continues to have on the cruise industry? What is the future of cruise tourism?
Daniel Skjeldam
Daniel Skjeldam
CEO, Hurtigruten Group
Honourable Edmund Bartlett, CD, MP
Honourable Edmund Bartlett, CD, MP
Minister of Tourism of Jamaica
Ross A. Klein, PhD
Ross A. Klein, PhD
Professor, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
Joseph M. Cheer, PhD
Joseph M. Cheer, PhD
Co-editor-in-Chief, Tourism Geographies, and Professor of Sustainable Tourism, Center for Tourism Research, Wakayama University, Japan
Close
back to top