WIT Press

Ecological Footprint: A Way To Assess The Impact Of Tourists’ Choices At The Local Scale


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V. Castellani & S. Sala


Ecological footprint (EF) is a method developed to assess the sustainability of different consumption patterns and to address human choice in daily life. Considering that different kinds of tourism can have different impacts on the environment (due, for instance, to energy consumption or to the extension of built-up land), there is the need for development of a valuable tool to compare sustainability of different issues related to tourism. In this study, the EF method was fitted to the Italian situation and to an assessment of the potential impact of tourism at the local scale, underlining how tourists’ choices could affect the quality of the environment in a tourist destination. The presented case study consists of the development of a framework, based on the EF method, to assess the ecological costs of different kinds of holiday, related also to the accommodation type chosen by tourists. Through model implementation, it is possible to calculate the EF of one overnight stay for each kind of accommodation. The model was applied to a specific destination in Italy, Alpi Lepontine, to assess the EF of tourism in this area, and to evaluate the sustainability of the destination, comparing the EF of tourists and residents with local biocapacity. The aim of the study is to evaluate the current situation, and to identify solutions that assure the development of tourism with fewer environmental costs (e.g. a network of small hospitality structures, sustainable mobility). The results of this work represent not only supportive information for decision makers but also a useful tool to raise environmental consciousness among tourists. Keywords: ecological footprint, sustainable tourism, tourist impact, accommodation impact.


ecological footprint, sustainable tourism, tourist impact,accommodation impact.