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Green Tourism Strategy

Tourism is a key element in creating an impetus for financial growth across the globe.  The sector was providing jobs to around 260 million people and contributing to over 10% in global GDP, based on 2010 numbers.  These numbers will grow in future.

However, these financial benefits do not occur without costs that have the potential to destroy popular destinations and disrupt tourism.  Costs—or adverse effects—of travel involve:

  • Massive carbon footprints produced by air travel
  • Changes in the clean environments due to human footprint
  • Degradation—or obliteration—of ecology because of travel
  • Climate change happening across the world—e.g., unpredictable weather, mounting sea levels, or land turning into deserts.

Tourism Research by UK’s Devon County Council reveals that tourists were considerate of environment when booking their travel, and were willing to pay more for green tourist destinations.  Tour operators, in turn, now regularly rank destinations based on their green services and products, and demand higher green standards from tourist resorts.

However, still a large majority of resorts, hotels, and tourist destinations fall behind in terms of environmental sustainability, green standards, and services.  Some are only hinging on marketing tactics, glossy brochures, and eco-friendly language.  These destinations are only eyeing near-term gains, and are at a high risk for draining their resources, environmental degradation costing fortunes to repair, and losing a sizable potential customer base.

Tourist destinations are facing critical environmental issues—e.g. clean water, carbon emission, protection of biodiversity, and waste reduction / disposal.  These issues necessitate commitment from all stakeholders and having proper structures and systems—i.e. regulations, stakeholders’ education, funding, marketing, and public relations—to regulate and promote Sustainable Tourism.

Above all, confronting these issues demand a coherent, carefully-crafted Green Tourism Strategy.  The challenge to devising a Green Tourism strategy is the uniqueness of each destination—in terms of culture, ecology, resources.  Thus, each destination warrants a bespoke strategy encompassing 3 key phases:

  • Appraising Environmental Health
  • Plotting the Green Journey
  • Implementing the Green Strategy

Let’s take a closer look at the first 2 phases.

1. Appraising Environmental Health

The first step to devising a Green Tourism Strategy entails carrying out a thorough baseline analysis of the existing environmental health status of the tourist location, to outline its strengths and weaknesses.  This should encompass Benchmarking the site’s performance in comparison to global environmental best practices and defining what needs to be done in the near as well as long term (key initiatives), in the order of their importance for the destination.

2. Plotting the Green Journey

This phase entails defining the vision for Green Tourism and taking into account the objectives to realize that vision.  The vision enables the policymakers to plan and choose the measures to be taken to maintain the sustainability of the destination.  These measures fall into 2 categories:

  • Preventive measures—meant to inhibit or avert any damage to the surrounding ecosystem of the destination. These initiatives are aimed at finding and employing cost-effective solutions and technologies rather than using modern technologies.  These initiatives suit locations with limited funds.
  • Radical measures—meant for those destinations that are financially sound and want to maintain their status of being leaders in green tourism. These sites are always ready to adopt cutting-edge technologies to safeguard their eco-friendly status.

Interested in learning more about the key phases of Green Tourism Strategy?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Green Tourism Strategy here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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