Out of the huge number of explanations and definitions for the sustainable development phenomenon, the most widely accepted and substantiated is the 1987 definition of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). In its official documents sustainable development is defined as meeting the human needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development is not a fixed state of harmony, but a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs.”
According to this definition, the principle of sustainable development presupposes adequate economic, technological, social and cultural development, harmonized with the needs for protection and promotion of the entire environmental system. Sustainable development recognizes the existence of natural boundaries which are the biosphere’s ability to absorb the negative effects of human activities. This is specific development that should allow present and future generations to meet their needs and improve quality of life as a whole.
The gist of this concept is in the interaction between economic prosperity and harmony with the environment, as well as the high level of interdependence and complementarity of the development policies and environmental protection policies, which fully respect laws of nature and environmental systems. Regardless of the increasingly greater social pressure for further rapid development and intensive economic prosperity, the sustainable development concept gives priority to the quality of environment and puts its focus on protection of ecosystems and rational use of natural resources.
This concept of acceptable sustainability in the development of society calls for not allowing exploitation of natural goods in dimensions that could deteriorate the options for better life, both today and in the future. The concept demands a global stance on protection of systems on which life on earth depends, including the atmosphere, water resources, soil and all living organisms. In the majority of cases these are universal categories that are difficult to replenish and whose final boundaries of exploitation are slowly, but surely overstepped. Thus, the original value of the sustainable development concept is in the comprehensive scope and consistent implementation of the concept of integral protection, which marks the beginning of a completely new social behaviour, a new applicative philosophy, in support of economic prosperity and maintenance of the harmony in our surroundings.
The implementation of the sustainable tourism development concept in the East Planning Region should be based on the three universal principles:
Ecological principle, which means adequate development of tourism which is not contrary to environmental laws and natural reproduction of resources;
Socio-cultural principle, which should ensure compatible development of tourism through protection of cultural benefits and the identity of the local community, as well as the local population’s active engagement in the planning and management of tourism development; and
Economic principle, which allows for investment in the so-called “proper” development of a tourist destination, based on local authentic values, as well as making profit necessary for a better life of present and future generations.
The concept of sustainable tourism development should rely on several fundamental principles which should be respected in all development documents, such as this Study on the potentials for tourism development in the East Planning Region:
an utterly attentive relationship with nature;
jealously preserving available resources – good-quality water, air, soil, electricity, etc.
comprehensive protection of natural, social and cultural environment;
respecting the needs and wishes of the home population and its authentic culture;
strategic planning with long-term concepts and their harmonization at destination level;
encouraging local companies to be more active and cooperative;
engaging the local population in all new projects in tourism;
permanent education of tourism professionals, public services and all others who are in direct contact with tourists;
Finally, tourism based on long-term sustainable components is nothing new in the East Planning Region. Sustainable development has its roots from the very beginnings of tourism in this area. Primarily due to the variety and the geographic dispersion of the attractive resources, the small number of accommodation facilities and their low exploitation, the tourism development in the East Planning Region has all the attributes of sustainability and longevity.