As destinations are threatened, the relationship between environmental assets and local culture is becoming a relevant issue in the tourism sector. Pascal Abdallah, tourism development consultant, and managing director of Responsible Mobilities, takes a closer look at how to make tourism more responsible
Sustainable tourism development
experts use the term “sense of place”
to demonstrate the attachment of local
communities to their environment
and its forged cultural heritage.
They sometimes refer to it by “placeattachment”,
“place-making” or even
better by “place-identity”.
Under this conceptual approach the
cedar forests in Lebanon, which cover
many square kilometers of varying
landscapes from deep valleys to rocky
cliffs and plains, have to be seen in their
more general value of historical trees
rather than just a botanical marvel. And
whilst visitors associate rural areas in
Mount Lebanon with Cedar forests, in
reality there is a lot more to discover
than the cedar tree. The rural areas
of Mount Lebanon have an incredibly
rich and diverse heritage, which is the
result of centuries of civilizations that
forged interplay between the natural
environment and human activity.
Tourism is an important tool of
economic growth and development.
However, tourism can have a negative
impact upon local populations and
their environmental areas and natural
resources. But if we recognize that
the sense of place is essential to the
sustainability of those host communities
a vital set of assets for consideration in
sustainable tourism development policy
and planning can be revealed.
The sense of place concept is important
because all around the world,
destinations and places are threatened
with their authenticity and their local
communities. Only a balance between
tourism development interests and
local community’s needs can guarantee
the perpetuity of local cultures and
places. In what way is the Horsh Ehden
Cedar Forest Nature Reserve unique and
different to the Shouf Biosphere Reserve?
The answer is in the local history of the
local populations, which a tour operator
can reflect into tourism packages.
As an implementation of this concept
the Shouf Cedar Biosphere Reserve team
has developed packages entitled “Cedars
and Faces” in which the tourist has the
opportunity to discover the local cultures
in the surrounding villages in parallel to
the enchantment in the cedar forests.