Bheki Gutshwa, Rina Kristanti, Eduardo Schnitzler Moure and Thays Venturim Guimaraes have participated in the 2016 Managing Global Governance course at the German Development Institute. Their main topic was to do research on sustainable tourism.

(c) Mélanie Bailly

What is sustainable tourism and why do you think it can facilitate a sustainable lifestyle?

MGG: The term sustainable tourism is not new yet it is not old. Sustainable Tourism refers to a kind of tourism that is inclusive of economical, environmental, and social-cultural aspects. It is the concept of visiting a place as a tourist and trying to make a positive impact on the environment, society and economy. It can facilitate a more sustainable lifestyle because it seeks to care for the environment yet it is about growing the economy that encourages the participation of local communities.

As you have worked intensively in Bonn, what are your thoughts on sustainable tourism in our city?

MGG: You see, sustainable tourism is a broad subject, therefore for it to succeed it needs concerted efforts from different role players. During our sustainable tourism project work in Bonn we had an amazing opportunity to engage with various prominent role players. These ranged from Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Tourism & Congress and other institutions like Bonn Sustainability Portal. During our journey we realised that Germany government has adopted a broad approach towards sustainability, not only focused on tourism, through driving a culture of energy conservation and efficiency.

Where have you discovered good examples and where do you see potentials for sustainable tourism?

MGG: During our discussion with the Tourism and Congress of Bonn Region we discovered that there are efforts they have made to get stakeholders, namely, hotels and conference guests/ tourists to be conscious of the environment degradation and climate change. These stakeholders have been asked to assist Bonn region to maintain a sustainable environment and they are given various incentives.
We have also noticed that there is a great potential of sustainable tourism if stakeholders like Bonn Sustainability Portal, Tourism & Congress and Federal government can work more together. There are great initiatives from both parties but these are not adequately shared.

Why do you think a region like the Rhineland should invest into sustainable tourism?

MGG: It is important that all regions, including Rhineland-Palatinate to invest in sustainable tourism as this form part of the Global Governance determined through the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The Agenda 2030 (of SDGs) requires collective efforts from all institutions and citizens of the world to work together in order to bring about a change. Sustainable Tourism is one of the initiatives that need a focus as per SDG goal number 12.

Do you think that Bonn as a UN-City should have a special approach in promoting sustainable tourism?

MGG: Yes, the City of Bonn like all other cities in the world should have a clear approach to establish sustainable tourism. The German government’s broad approach can be enhanced through developing an overall strategy with clear expected contributions from all relevant stakeholders. Government needs to engage key stakeholders such as business and pave a way forward for sustaianble tourism.

What is your personal recommendation for living sustainable in daily life?

MGG: Sustainable daily life can be achieved through the implementation of a sustainable (tourism) strategy. This has to be driven from the federal level with adequate investment, as well as other institutions entrusted with tourism governance. It is of high importance that efforts are driven to change the ‘mindset’ and ‘behaviour’ of the stakeholders, namely business and tourists. Also there should be incentives accompanying the process of change. Little things like switching off the lights, use of bikes to/from work, promoting consumption of organic food, etc could go a long way in leading sustainable daily life. Lastly, with the evident climate change we cannot procrastinate this anymore, we have to act now. Let us all save our environment through living a sustainable daily life.

The interview was conducted by Dominik Biergans.