Sustainable tourism

Article, 21 June 2011

Tourism in the developing world is now an established market sector and it forms a major part of many countries’ GDP. Yet too often tourism policies result in the majority of economic benefits being captured by foreign investors or elites, rather than flowing to local people or being re-invested into preserving biodiversity and the local environment.

However, tourism does have the ability to offer significant social and economic benefits to the world’s poorest people, and to act as an incentive to conserve natural resources and areas rich in biodiversity.

IIED works on a number of tourism projects that look at the forces and processes which impact and influence tourism development, to evaluate how more positive benefits can be gained to put poor people and the environment at the forefront of future tourism development.

Sustainable tourism in Srepok Wilderness Area, Cambodia

High-value, low impact wildlife tourism is being used by a range of stakeholders as a means of sustainably managing globally significant biodiversity, including critical habitat and key species within the Eastern Plains Landscape in north-east Cambodia.

This film documents the production of wild honey by local people in the protected Mondulkiri region to sell to tourists as an additional form of income. Using non-timber forest products to sustain livelihoods also encourages protection of the forests and biodiversity within it.


  • Development AND Gorillas?: a range of “integrated conservation and development” strategies have been applied in and around Bwindi and Mgahinga Mational Parks in Uganda.This report summarises the findings of a study which tested the effectiveness of these strategies.
  • Community management of natural resources in Africa: This review provides an unprecedented pan-African synthesis of Community Based Natural Resource Management.
  • CAMPFIRE and payments for environmental services: The Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) is a longstanding initiative where communities using land under communal tenure have been granted authority to market the wildlife in their area to safari operators.


Pro-poor tourism (PPT): 'Up-to-date information on Pro-Poor Tourism, tourism that results in increased net benefits for poor people'

Poverty and Conservation Learning Group (PCLG): 'The information portal of the Poverty and Conservation Learning Group, providing all project documentation, meeting notes, and hosting of the four PCLG web databases'

BioCultural Heritage - Protecting interlinked system: 'A site dedicated to promoting the interlinked biological and cultural riches of indigenous peoples and local communities'

More tourism-related projects: