Guidelines for policy-making and planning


There is growing appreciation that sustainable tourism requires a strong process of collaboration between the wide range of actors who can influence its impact or who are affected by it, both in the global north and south. The purpose of this study is to assist stakeholders concerned with the sustainability of tourism to work better together. While a number of other publications have looked at technical issues of tourism sustainability, this study focuses on collaborative processes: Who should collaborate and why they should do so; the actions to deliver sustainability which most require a collaborative approach and at what levels; and, finally, how collaborative processes can be established and strengthened and the factors for success. As part of the study, nine international case studies were prepared on a range of diverse issues, including community-based tourism development, tackling child sex tourism and national tourism policy development, all of which have informed the study’s key findings.

This is the report of a seminar organised by the World Tourism Organization, in conjunction with the Government of Kazakhstan, following the 45th meeting of the UNWTO Commission for Europe.

This Guidebook is a basic reference and provides a blueprint for governments to formulate and implement sustainable tourism policies. It builds on UNEP and UNWTO's previous work on different aspects of sustainability. In addition to earlier work by UNWTO and UNEP, an extensive research survey was undertaken among UNWTO Member States, in 2003 and 2004, to identify specific policies and tools applied in their territories that had effectively contributed to making their tourism sector more sustainable. The conclusions drawn and the policies and tools recommended in this Guide are therefore based on real cases, collected from around the world, that have proven to be effective and successful in achieving the aims of sustainable development. The Guide is aimed primarily at governments, at national or local level, while being also relevant to other public and private organizations to the extent that they are affected by, and can affect, tourism policies and their implementation.

Published in 1999, with a view to assisting tourism planning procedures at the local level. Three supplementary volumes for Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas are part of the publication. Based on the methodologies proposed in this guide, national missions have been fielded for training of local authorities, including hundreds of mayors in countries such as Guatemala, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Tanzania and others.




  • The UNWTO study "An integrated approach to resort development", published in 1992 gives guidance for tourism planning at establishment level. It reviews six complex resorts representing various regions of the world and different types of development.


UNWTO has also prepared publications and organized activities addressing planning and management issues at specific types of destinations, such as ecotourism destinations and protected areas, cultural sites and rural areas.

Based on the above guidelines, seminars and workshops are conducted for capacity building and exchange of experiences among UNWTO Member States on national and local policies for sustainable tourism:

  • Seminar on Tourism Sustainability and Local Agenda 21 in Tourism Destinations and Workshop on Sustainability Indicators for Tourism Destinations
    Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from 18 to 22 February 2006
    Final Report
  • Seminar on Policies, Strategies and Tools for Sustainable Development of Tourism
    Almaty , Kazakhstan, 25-26 April 2006
    Final Report
  • UNWTO also supports and participates in a large number of events held by other organizations to disseminate technical information on sustainable tourism policies and tools.
  • According to the agreement signed with the United Nations Development Programme, UNWTO has been the executing agency for many tourism master plan projects financed by the UNDP in over 30 countries during the past decades. In these projects, the sustainability principles have been considered as important elements even before the Rio Summit, but have become central in these plans since then. UNWTO is involved in the preparation of national and provincial tourism planning projects in various countries, with UNDP or other funding; this form of technical co-operation will remain among UNWTO's priorities in the future. For technical cooperation projects on tourism planning please consult the web page of the UNWTO Technical Cooperation and Services

More details, ordering of publications