Sustainable Urban Tourism

Working for low carbon initiatives

Sustainable Urban Tourism through Low Carbon Initiatives: Experiences from Hue and Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai

Even though the importance and role of urban areas in GHG emissions are well understood, there are not many studies that deal with how to actually achieve the reduction. Most studies consider direct emission from transport, building, industry, energy sectors, waste and industrial processes. This study, however, focuses on one important economic sector in some cities, namely, the tourism sector, which encompasses many traditional sectors. This sector also provides employment for a large number of people in the developing countries. For example World Travel and Tourism Council estimated in 2009, Thailand had 4 million jobs associated to tourism and Vietnam 4.8 million jobs. Among the top ten countries with greatest expected relative growth in tourism related employment over the next ten year, seven will be from Asian countries including Thailand and Vietnam.

Hue Festival

Thus, this research not only focuses on an under-researched area, but also approaches the problem in a new way, by exploring opportunities for lowering GHG emission as well as creating green and decent jobs, and awareness on socially inclusive urban development, where people in the margins of urban development will be able to benefit from the development process. For example, introducing 3R (reduce, reuse and recycle) could not only help reduce GHG emissions, but could also generate green and decent job opportunities for local citizens. It is estimated that the total number of recycling jobs in China is over 10 million, while in the United States it is more than 1 million and in Brazil, it is about half a million.

Souvenir Shop in Chiang Mai

Usually, the emission estimation and exploring opportunities for addressing the emission reduction is carried out independently by researchers only. However, this project involves researchers and city authorities (and other relevant city groups/institutions) right from project formulation to completion as important stakeholders/boundary partners, which is expected to provide additional and useful inputs for addressing GHG mitigation in cities and sustainable urban tourism development. For the purpose of this study, tourism sector involves all activities that sustain the tourism industry (hotels, tours and transport, small businesses catering to tourists and related operations, entertainment, buildings and heritages, energy supply, food supply, water supply and treatment, and waste and waste treatment).

Hue Festival

Major contribution of the project


a) Improve understanding and assist in the reduction of carbon emissions in urban tourism sector,

b) Explore how various alternatives options to reduce carbon emissions, and how these alternatives be used for promoting women and men’s employment in decent jobs, and thus contribute to the well-being for the poor in urban areas, and

The project will make use of participatory approaches in decision-making in urban planning process.

Tourism activities and GHG emission reduction approaches by creating decent jobs in Chiang Mai and Hue

Tourism sector will be an important area where GHG emission reductions can be achieved in Chiang Mai and Hue. These initiatives can be linked to other social goals such as decent work creation, since the Chiang Mai and Hue cities are small and medium scale growing cities. These cities want to protect their natural resources and save energy by raising awareness on low carbon initiatives in tourism sector. These cities have already started some initiatives to promote green tourism activities by mobilizing their citizens, such as home stay programs (Hue), garden house tours (Hue), eco-tourism (Hue & Chiang Mai), cyclo (Hue) & bicycle tour (Hue & Chiang Mai), etc., and are keen to develop in this direction further.

The green tourism practices can take care of prevention of pollution (air, land and water); wise use of resources such as raw materials, water and energy; and protect/enhance of biodiversity. It also promotes to use energy efficiency measures, use solar energy, bio-gas, reuse/recycle of waste & wastewater, emphasize to use local products, etc. However, so far, this has been initiated with little scientific backing on how much it contributes to reduction of GHG emissions. With the current project, these initiatives will further be given a boost by having a solid basis and target for achievement and will make it easier to motivate their citizens to low carbon initiatives in tourism sector. Meanwhile, the local authorities and private sector who will benefit from improved capacity in planning for efficient energy use, improvement of environment and linking these to creating decent jobs. These practices will contribute to sustainable tourism development in both cities.

Yee Peng Festival