The sustainable development of tourism has become a global major task which aims at achieving the objectives of biological preservation, prevention of climate change, and natural resources’ conservation to ensure the long-term prosperity (Narasaiah 2004). In order to obtain the positive outcomes, it’s necessary to concentrate on the impacts and implications of a destination’s environmental, economic and social areas (Sofield 2003).
Brisbane is the capital city of the Australian state Queensland with an approximate 200 million population and it’s a green and diverse city with a splendid climate. It also has become one of the fastest growing economic cities and the major business hubs in Australia. Brisbane’s outstanding economic performance mainly relies on its tourism-related industries (ABS 2010). A number of 5.8 million arrivals to Australia during the year ended October 2010 has increased 5% when is compared to the same period of last year. Besides, an expectation of 20 million international arrivals will be received by the year 2020. The tourism industry has played an important role in Brisbane’s economy whereby it becomes the third-most popular destination after Sydney and Melbourne (TA 2010).
Therefore, the sustainable tourism development is an ideal execution which is balancing the social, economic and environmental areas to ensure long-term sustainability in both mass and special interest segment of a destination’s tourism industry (Black and Crabtree 2007).
Sustainability of Brisbane’s tourism
Being the heart of Queensland, Brisbane has the wealthy energy and water resources so that it can be able to contribute to the development and execution of sustainable energy and climate change policies to maintain adequate energy supplies for the tourism-related industries (Australian Government 2010). The beaches, mountains, rivers and bays of the city have made it a destination with lively nature. It’s also rich in heritage which can simply reveal by the architecture and art of the city. However, Brisbane is now facing the problems of greenhouse gas, peak oil and climate change. It is now taking measures to enhance the energy security and manage the natural resources (BCC 2010).
Hence, Australia’s abundant natural resources have been the key accelerator of its economic prosperity and international competitiveness. This is the reason that the sustainability is a crucial issue for both business and government in such a country with unique natural environment.
The Australian Tourism Board released the ‘National long-term tourism strategy’ which practised the long-term policy to position the tourism industry as economically vibrant and sustainable industry in order to further its sustainable development (Australian Government 2010).
The tourism industry of Australia will double over the next ten years due to the substantial growth in both nature-based tourism and ecotourism. The ecotourism is a nature-based tourism which is involving the education and explication of the natural environment so that it can be conducted to be ecologically sustainable. It’s able to help Brisbane’s cultural components and the ecological sustainability of natural environment to obtain opportune gaining to the local community and long-term conservation of the resources (Fennell 2003). Australia is well-known for its ecotourism after it has made the great achievements in the developments between various stakeholders which are including government, industry and community groups (TQ 2002).
Brisbane is increasing the reverse and connectivity of bush land to provide extra protection of natural areas; it can also improve the carbon pollution and the climate changes (BCC 2010). Furthermore, Australia has set up the sustainable population strategy to make sure that it can reply to the variations in its population to develop a sustainable Australia. The strategy is aim at improving the present and future generations with more suitable recognitions and managements to the influence of population changes (AG 2010). It also can direct the development of principles to meet the population needs of Australia’s future. All of those strategies which have been mentioned above will become the strong means to ameliorate the sustainable tourism development of Brisbane.
The issues of sustainable tourism development
The growing complexity of communities and the relationships between them pose significant challenges for the sustainable development of tourism (Hall and Richards 2000). For example, the Brisbane City Council has worked with the social development industry to improve the living and working environment more sustainable. It also provided the grant to encourage the sustainable tourism development in the community such as roads, buildings, green spaces, and tourist attractions of the city (BCC 2010). One of the most obvious reasons is that the growing number of population and tourists will inevitably influence the quality of local residents’ lives (Faulkner 2003).
Brisbane is deeply concerning on the sustainable development since a growing number of domestic and foreign people like to buy their second and retired homes to spend their lives here after discovered through tourism. This may also help to conserve its heritage, culture and classical architecture in order to maintain the charms to the international market because the tourism will influence the culture and nature environment (Horner and Swarbrooke 2004).
The productivity of labour plays an important role in affecting the sustainable tourism. Brisbane has developed a Multicultural Employment Infrastructure Program to assist the skilled people from high unemployment migrant into appropriate occupation of tourism industry such as hotels, restaurants, attractions, etc. and thus creating more sustainable employment outcomes for the local society (TA 2010). The sustainable development with the good encouragement can help to provide large training opportunities and great employment for the residents. The positive labour productivity growth of Australia tourism was contributed mostly by the accommodation and transport services industries from 2003 to 2009 which has been indicated in Figure 1.
There is an issue that Brisbane is making efforts to dispose the gender discriminations in the tourism industry because of only 36% of female managers. The other major jobs are diminutive such as housekeeping, kitchen work, waitress, etc. and thus Brisbane is trying to improve this situation and providing better chances or conditions for the women in the tourism industry (Helium 2010).
Another social issue is that the Aboriginal culture has become a tourism product due to a growing area of tourism interest after it was exposed by Australia to the international tourism market. It has enhanced the economy and improved the quality of life for the Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal culture also helps to differentiate Australia as a distinctive destination from its global competitors of the marketplace (Butler and Hinch 2007).
However, the tourism will have the negative impacts on society in term of the activities of local community. The reason is that the tourism development may result in the loss of its cultural identity by playing up to the perceived demands of the tourists, especially the international markets. For example, some historical buildings in Brisbane are now facing demolition or reconstruction due to the new construction plans of city council. The community is under a debate of the purpose of these buildings and the value of attractions in the future because some local committees are trying to protect these heritage properties (Moore 2010). Hence, the local society has to always focus on not to meet the anticipated touristy ideals in order to ensure it can conserve its own culture or heritage in a right direction.
Figure 1 Average annual labour productivity growth in tourism industries (%)
Source: TRA 2010.
A destination will strengthen its policies on protecting the environment due to the rapid growth of tourism industry. However, the environmental impacts can also bring the negative outcomes to the nature-based tourism (Jafari 2000).
Brisbane is now facing the worst flash floods coming from the Toowoomba city. The floods entered Brisbane with the floods level of 4.5 metres which is expected higher than 1974’s peak. A large number of shops in the central business district have closed because of the floods. More than 10,000 properties and 200,000 people have been influenced in the New Year floods. Many residents and visitors are forced to evacuate out of the disaster areas. The Queensland Tourism Board mentioned that flooding and heavy rains had hit the tourism industry badly with lots of roads, rail links and airports were blocked (ABC 2011).
The destination will also take actions to minimising the negative environmental impacts for the sustainable tourism development (Jafari 2000). Nowadays the Australian tourism is tending to the ‘low carbon travel’ because of the carbon pollution of the country. Both locals and tourists are encouraged to experience the low-carbon vacation and lifestyle so that a lot of tour packages have been provided on village or vineyard journeys (TA 2010). Hence, Brisbane pro-actively works on sustainability positivity will be better positioned than its competitors to survive as the travellers grow more environmentally conscious in selecting their destinations.
The environmental auditing is required by legislation as a self-regulative implementation which can be valuable controlling tool in order to achieve the sustainable tourism development (Jafari 2000).
Being one of the largest cities of Australia, Brisbane has invested in dealing with the greenhouse gas emissions, climate changes, and use of fossil fuels. The reason is that Australia is one of the most carbon-emitting countries and thus Brisbane is taking actions to improve the environment which is affected by its growing tourism industry. It has identified that the public transports and rail freights are the key factors to handle the reduction of carbon emission; nevertheless the Australian tourism is so dependant upon its international and domestic aviation links due to its unique geography. Therefore the airline industry of Australia increased the fuel prices when the tourism was affected directly (TTF 2008).
The environmental influence of tourism has also motivated the destinations to concentrate responsibly in enhancing the quality of their environments and lives (Elliott and Thomas 2009). Australia is challenged to solve the variety of environmental issues since the global community is focusing on the ‘green tourism’. Brisbane has developed the Climate Adaptation project which is aiming to set up the climate changes strategies and policies of climate adaptation to help the tourism and increase the local livelihoods through the sustainable tourism (TA 2010). This can help the city to recognise the risks of future climate change in sustainable tourism and ensure that the strategies are flexible to face the challenges within a right direction.
Sustainable tourism is acting an important role in economic aspect of the community and global levels by minimising the negative impacts to ensure sustainable use, as well as providing sufficient tourism revenue to reinvest an affirmative segment of investments (UN 2001).
The Australian tourism is acknowledged by its regional communities as a significant economic driver due to its strong competency to provide a large number of jobs and income. The total expenditure from the tourists has increased by 5% to about AU $59 billion since 2008. The state of Queensland was the highest area where the visitors spent the most to its regional tourism. Besides, Australia has created a Tourism Impact Model for local councils to operate the economic impacts of tourism and therefore it can efficiently generate the income of tourism to improve the industry (TAV 2008). The sustainable tourism development is always measuring the economic activities so that it can obtain and focus the future impacts to the industries. This has become a cardio tonic for Australian economic growth.
The tourism industry has the capacity to bring grant benefits when it also has to utilise the costs on host communities. The benefits and costs of tourism are contributed equally. Instead of concentrating great efforts on advertising tourism or on measuring all of the benefits and costs, the regional development may become an effective tool to achieve larger return from the efforts that the communities are able to increase the tourism’s net revenue (Moscardo 2008). Australia is applied itself to increase the tourism’s net economic contribution to its economy and to foster an industry which is promoting the regulations of economic responsibility and sustainable tourism development. For instant, the state of Brisbane, Queensland has provided a ‘Smart State’ program with $120 million to develop a state where knowledge and innovation drive economic growth to solve the challenges of the technology industry and improve the quality of tourism (TA 2010). Therefore, the positive economic influence of tourism will rely on the way it managed and planned.
The tourism has to always concern on the economic areas when it is planning for the sustainable tourism because the economic issues is not only provide positive achievements but also affects the tourism negatively (Sofield 2003).
The Australian dollar strengthens currently to make lots of overseas travellers who are forced to tighten their purse strings. The impact of the stronger Australia dollar will make it to become a more expensive destination for the overseas visitors. Some hotels were affected by this issue as the business of international customers dropped five percent when compared with the previous months. This also meant that the overseas travellers would spend less time in Australia. Furthermore, the impact of the flash floods in Brisbane has also caused about AU $6 billion in damage which is including the budget of reconstruction and the raise of food prices. This may affect the local business which provides the products and services to both residents and tourists, especially in hotels and restaurants. They will hardly cut down the costs to attract the domestic and international tourism (PMN 2011). Both the stronger dollar and floods impacts of tourism industry will shorten Australia’s economic growth in 2011.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate Social Responsibility is the persistent guarantee by business which contributes to the economic development through improving the quality of the local communities and the life of labour force. It is an effort of the companies to develop significant relationships between the corporate division and the remaining of the society (TA 2010).
The Australian airline Qantas Airways Limited have announced a new three-year partnership with the tourism board to promote and strengthen Australia as a desired tourist destination through marketing campaigns, business and trade events. It will have an effective outcome due to Qantas as one of the strongest brands in Australia and being known as the world’s top long distance airline. The company has a significant strategy which is encouraging its employees to participate the Australia sustainable tourism programs to ensure that they will bring the social responsibility into their work. The programs are including the education about the link between climate changes and sustainability in business and the conservation of Australia’s land care. The company will awards its staffs after they have showed the proactive leadership to carry out the environmental schemes throughout the business (Qantas Airways 2010).
The Qantas airline is committed to the sustainable growth of Australia in order to promote and enhance its distinctive destinations and environment. The airline spends almost AU $3 billion on the jet fuel and emits large amount of carbon and exhaust gas. Qantas has taken steps to reduce the carbon emission by signing contract with a US fuel producer Solena. They considered building a trial plant to convert waste into bio-fuel. The source of the bio-fuel includes food packaging, scraps and tree cuttings. Besides, Qantas is trying to improve its water efficiency in all aspects of its operations by investigating procedures to reduce consumption of potable water, such as use of the grey-water and aircraft wash-water recycling. The organisation’s target is to reduce 25% of water consumption by 2011 to foster sustainable tourism (Brisbane Times 2010). The airline will conclude a feasibility study for the waste-based of aviation fuel within one year and thus the bio-fuel will be trialled on aircrafts. The bio-fuel and the water conservation will be the key components of its environmental strategy of sustainable tourism.
Moreover, Qantas has launched an annual award for those who perform excellent in Australia sustainable tourism since 2008 (Qantas Airways 2010). This award can motivate the local communities to improve the business environment of the society and thus it can help to promote the country to become one of the top sustainable tourism destinations.
Australia announced that the grants of tourism development program had been provided to support the sustainable growth in the tourism industry by developing creative products and services, contributing to long-term economic development, and creating high quality visitor experiences and services.
Brisbane has supported a project ‘Brisbane Ambassadors for Life: Sustainable tourism development’ which is proposed by the local hospitality organisations. It’s an innovative program designed to create sustainable economic value by attracting overseas students, leisure, and convention visitors to the greater Brisbane region. Some of them will become ambassadors for Brisbane in other countries, with Brisbane’s sister city relationships to generate increased visitation and length of stay in Brisbane (TA 2010).
The sustainable development of Brisbane’s tourism is in a steady process which is influencing to its social, economic and environmental areas because sustainable tourism is significant to Australia’s cultural and natural wealth. The government has provided a lot of sustainable practices to support the development of tourism and encourage both domestic and international tourists to explore the treasures of Australian tourism. This will also motivate the corporations and stakeholders to resolve the challenges and collaborate to improve the tourism industry so that it can provide the social and economic gains to the destination and survive in such a high extent of the global competition.
Today, the Australian tourism is rapid growing industry which has significantly contributed to the country. It has affected the lives of communities and developed variety of sustainable programs for its tourism development. However, Brisbane is currently facing a series of problems which are including the damages of the flash floods, the raise of food prices and the carbon pollution. Especially the floods, it will cost Brisbane a large amount of funds to reconstruct the disaster areas. These critical issues will be the difficult tasks for Brisbane to settle in its sustainable development. Therefore, the measures of sustainable development will be focusing on the current consumptions of the industry in order to satisfy the needs of the future generations. Moreover, it may guide the policies as well as implementations to be a powerful tool towards the sustainable tourism of Brisbane.