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Proposal of a model to measure the environmental quality in tourist beaches

Camilo BOTERO SALTAREN student laureate
playascol@yahoo.com

°1977 Colombia
Master's in environmental sciences, Universidad de la Salle, Colombia, 2002

Propuesta de un modelo para medir la calidad ambiental en playas turísticas

Tourism is increasing in economic and social importance worldwide. Although Colombia has not yet received a lot of international tourist business, there is a domestic tourist business. A significant proportion of the Colombian population, despite all their social, political and economic problems, look for opportunities to go on holiday. Although other destinations have developed in recent years (including the Pacific and the coffee region Eje cafetero), the Caribbean coast remains the greatest attraction. Sun, sea and sand are very popular, and draw millions of tourists every year.
This study is in line with a current research trend towards searching for and deciding on indicators (of an economic, social, cultural and/or ecological nature) to measure sustainable development.
With this research, the author contributes to a process of reflection about the sustainable development of tourism, particularly with reference to beaches.
In the central section, he proposes four complex indicators (beach and water quality, tourist capacity and beach management) constructed from eleven parameters. These four indicators combined, lead, in their turn, via a formula, to an index, a value which indicates the environmental quality of the beaches measured: the ICAPTU (índice de cálidad ambiental en playas turísticas). Via this index, coupled with information about limit values, a judgement can thus be expressed about the quality of the beach.
The work has a technical/scientific orientation, and is constructed highly systematically in a number of steps.
Although the author mainly considers the environmental dimension of sustainable development, he also refers in his recommendations to the importance of investigating other dimensions (mainly economic and social). Moreover, he rightly refers to the absence of any policy in this area, and to local tour operators who are not really concerned about sustainability.
The thesis undeniably makes an intrinsic contribution to the discussion about sustainable development and its measuring indicators.

report by Dr. A. Vanbroeck, Academic coordinator, GAS tourism training, Management School, Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium