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Green Tourism

A Road Map for


Transformation
September, 2013
EXECUTIVE
SUMMARY
Tourism and environmental sustainability have steadily
become intertwined. As global awareness of climate change
grows, travelers are demanding environmentally sustainable
destinations. Heeding their call, leading tour operators are
giving marketing preference to such locales. Across the
globe, tourism destinations are realizing that becoming
environmentally sustainable is key to staying competitive.
Although many destinations are
currently taking steps to become
environmentally sustainable, their
efforts often fall short; they focus
on quick hits such as carbon
offsetting, or marketing campaigns
that have little impact. Too often,
they underestimate the magnitude
of the efforts necessary, the need to
coordinate stakeholders from a wide
variety of groups, and the long-
term commitment that a true green
transformation requires.
Based on our work over two decades
with multiple destinations, attractions
and firms we have developed a
framework that other destinations
can follow in their attempt to
become environmentally sustainable.
A green transformation should
begin with a three-step process
that includes an assessment of the
destinations environmental status, the
development of a green strategy, and
the collaborative execution of projects
related to the green strategy.
In 2010, at the second International
Conference on Climate Change and
Tourism in Davos, global policymak-
ers declared that the tourism sector
must rapidly respond to climate
changeand progressively reduce its
greenhouse gas (GHG) contribution if
it is to grow in a sustainable manner.
Environmentally savvy tourists
especially those in key source markets
such as western Europeincreasingly
desire green destinations. A 2009
survey by Tourism Australia found that
54 percent of respondents consider
Environmental issues when booking a trip,
82 percent are willing to pay more for
Green services and products, and 72 percent
think a green business is more likely
to be quality conscious.1
In response, in an effort to remain
both environmentally sustainable and
competitive, leading tour operators
like Thomas Cook have been demanding
higher standards
from hotels and giving marketing
and booking preference to environ-
mentally sustainable destinations.
Thomas Cook recently partnered with
the U.K.-based Federation of Tour
Operators (FTO) in order to launch
the Travelife awards, which recognise
hotels and other business partners that
attain high standards of environmen-
THE EMERGENCE
AND GROWTH OF
GREEN TOURISM
In todays interconnected world, pass-
ports are stamped with ever-increasing
frequency. By 2020, an estimated 1.6
billion tourists will travel the globe
annuallytwice as many as in 2009.
Whether trekking through rainforests,
wandering around ancient ruins, or
scuba diving near coral reefs, travelers
gain matchless experiences and help
boost local economies. However, tour-
ism comes at a price: its impact on the
earth. Too much traffic can trample
a pristine environment, pollute the
air, deplete precious resources, and
emit gases that contribute to global
warming. As awareness about the
threat of climate change grows, there
is an increasing demand for green
destinationsthose that make an
active effort to improve their environ-
mental sustainability by addressing
such issues as carbon emissions, bio-
diversity conservation, waste manage-
ment, and water supply. Tourism and
environmental sustainability are fast
becoming natural partners.
KEY HIGHLIGHTS





As demand for green tourism
increases, tourist destinations
that seek to remain competitive
must adopt environmentally
sustainable policies.
Destinations should adopt
a holistic approach to
environmental sustainability,
undertaking meaningful change
instead of marketing gimmicks.
Becoming green need not
be a painful or expensive
process. Many initiatives are
financially viable and may bolster
the double bottom line of
environmental sustainability and
profitability.
A successful green strategy
balances the unique needs and
priorities of all stakeholders,
including government, the
tourism industry, the local
community, and tourists.
A green transformation should
begin with a three-step process
that includes an assessment of
the destinations environmental
health, the creation of a green
strategy, and the collaborative
execution of projects related to
the green strategy.
tal management. In addition, major
global travel societies like National
Geographic are more often using envi-
ronmental sustainability as a key mea-
sure in their rankings of international
travel destinations (see Figure 1).
Tourism destinations are realising
that in order to stay competitive,
becoming green must be a principal
element of their branding and market-
ing policies. Failing to adopt such an
approach may mean losing a loyal
customer base.
In addition, as stringent carbon regu-
lations are being implemented across
the globe, and investment in green
tourism begins to present economic
benefits for hosting countries, destina-
tions have another goal to keep in
mind: the financial rewards of adopt-
ing sustainable policies.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, an invest-
ment scheme known as the clean
development mechanism (CDM)
allows industrialised countries to
invest in emissions-reducing projects
in developing countries as an alterna-
tive to more expensive ones at homes.
Financing schemes like the CDM
may become tipping points, motivat-
ing destinations to rethink business
as usual in favor of sustainable
strategies.
Figure 1
National Geographic Societys Best and Worst Destinations for Authenticity and Stewardship
Note: A total of 133 destinations were surveyed by a panel of 437 well-traveled experts in a variety of fields related to sustainable tourism. The ratings were based on six criteria:
environmental and ecological quality; social and cultural integrity; condition of historic buildings and archaeological sites; aesthetic appeal; quality of tourismmanagement; and
outlook for the future.
Source: National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations
Worst destinations
Best destinations
Kakadu National Park, Australia
South Island, New Zealand
Ancient Kyoto, Japan
Kootenay/Yoho National
Parks, British Columbia Gasp Peninsula,
Quebec
Vermont, U.S.
Grand Bahama Island,
Bahamas
North Coast,
Dominican Republic
Cabo San
Lucas Region, St. Maarten/
Mexico St. Martin
Medieval Granada
and the Alhambra,
Spain
Costa del Sol,
Spain
Fjords Region, Norway
Bavarian Alps, Germany
Slovenia
West Bank, Bethlehem,
Israel/Palestine
Northern Red Sea Coast,
Egypt
Although some tourist destinations
have embarked on serious sustain-
ability efforts, too many others are
lagging behind. These destinations
underinvest in the preservation of
their natural assets and trade their
long-term health in areas like biodi-
versity conservation and waste man-
agement for short-term gain. Others
use environmental initiatives simply
as a public relations and marketing
tool, ignoring the fact that tourists
are sophisticated enough to know a
green faade when they see it.
Yet there is currently both urgent
need and tremendous incentive to
focus on environmental sustainability
and pursue a meaningful, substantive
green strategyand tourist destina-
tions are increasingly interested in
doing so.
Our experience with green tourism
initiatives including eco resort
Developments in Queensland has led
us to believe that the path to success
as a green tourist destination lies in
a holistic approach to an environ-
mental strategy. Weve identified the
components required for any destina-
tion to call itself green, as well as the
enabling structures that will ensure
the success of green policy. Taken
together, they allow a destination to
create comprehensive transformation
and long-term success.
Destinations that aspire to be sustain-
able should consider the following
four components:
1. Carbon Emissions: The tourism
industry is currently responsible for
around 5 percent of global carbon
emissions, largely a result of air travel
and accommodations. A recent global
study from the World Economic
Forum estimates that these emissions will
double by 2035 if left unchecked.
THE POWER OF A
HOLISTIC GREEN
APPROACH
Theobjectiveof sustainabletourism
istoretaintheeconomicandsocial
advantagesof tourismdevelopment
whilereducingor mitigating
anyundesirableimpactsonthe
natural, historic, cultural, or social
environment. Thisisachievedby
balancingtheneedsof touristswith
thoseof thedestination.
World Trade Organization
Carbon mitigation efforts, therefore,
are key to green policy. These efforts
should include eliminating and
reducing emissions, substituting
environmentally harmful practices with
more sustainable ones, and offsetting
remaining emissions. Destinations can
also reduce their carbon footprints by
choosing sustainably sourced goods
and materials.
By implementing green technologies
and policies such as solar panels,
compact fluorescent lighting,
energy-efficient appliances, building
insulation, renewable fuels, and carbon
sequestration from trees, destinations
can dramatically reduce their carbon
emissions. Slovakias popular AquaCity
resort, which was recently named
Worlds Leading Green Resort
by World Travel Awards, prevents
an estimated 27 tons of CO2 from
entering the atmosphere every day
by using geothermal water and solar
energypolicies that have saved the
resort millions of euros each year.
Mitigation options like these increase
the double bottom line by providing
both economic and environmental
benefits, and they have a relatively
short investment payoff period.
Destinations should also invest in
and encourage guests to choose
energy-efficient transport and
activities. Depending on the
location, visitors can be steered
toward smart mass transit options
such as electrical trains and hybrid
buses or individual options like
hybrid cars, bicycles, and sailboats
instead of SUVs and motorboats.
In addition, destinations can
incentivize tourists to offset their
remaining emissions through local
programs that invest in renewable
technologies such as wind power.
2. Biodiversity Conservation:
A locations unique natural
assetsits beaches, rivers, forests,
mountains, coral reefs, deserts, and
wildlifeare key to its value as a
tourist destination. Preservation of
these assets is therefore a critical
component of sustainable tourism.
Over the past two decades, tourism in
biodiversity hot spots has increased
more than 100 percent, making
conservation all the more urgent.
Without proper conservation efforts,
tourism can contribute to the
damage and destruction of flora and
fauna. Unregulated wildlife viewing
has scared away animals and
disrupted their feeding and nesting
sites. Coral reefs across the globe
have been damaged by cruise ships,
divers, and other human activity.
Highly trafficked trekking sites, such
as the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal,
experience serious soil erosion and
plant damage. Without biodiversity
conservation, destinations leave their
most precious assets unprotected.
Shielding these assets is a high-
yielding investment in the future.
Policymakers should develop
national parks and wildlife corridors,
regulate access to potentially fragile
areas, protect indigenous species,
and control pests. Biodiversity
conservation efforts should be
tailored to specific regional and local
needs. After all, a policy that works
in the rainforest may not work in the
desert, and vice versa.
3. Waste Management: Effective
liquid and solid waste management
is key to the clean perception of
a destination. As a major pollutant,
waste affects the entire ecosystem,
including land degradation, water
quality, and health and hygiene.
Reducing potential waste streams,
minimizing the amount of solid
waste that ends up in landfills and
incinerators, and recycling whenever
possible are all critical components
of an environmentally sustainable
tourism policy.
Global best practices for solid
waste management dictate that
waste should be collected in closed
bags or bins, transported in closed
trucks, sorted and recycled as much
as possible, and then disposed of in
sanitary landfills as a last resort. In
addition, waste ideally should be
used to generate energy.
Best practices for liquid waste begin
with reducing the amount created
and then better managing it with
aerobic treatment and filtration,
followed by disinfection to destroy
bacteria and viruses. The waste is
then treated to remove metals and
small biodegradable pollutants.
Cutting-edge waste management
methods such as waste-to-
energy conversion can enhance a
destinations reputation in the green
playing field.
4. Water Supply: Water is an
increasingly scarce resource, with
many countries facing severe
shortages. An adequate and
healthy water supply is crucial
to a destinations long-term
environmental sustainability. Because
water provision and desalination
are typically significant sources
of energy usage and emissions,
conservative water policy is doubly
important. Water consumption
should be measured and reduced
to the minimum level necessary for
adequate operation.
Reusing wastewater increases the
availability of potable water and
reduces a destinations sewage and
clean-up fees. In addition, proper
wastewater management reduces
aquatic pollution and minimizes the
risk of disease.
Enabling Support Structures
Clearly, none of these elements
exists in a vacuum. On the contrary,
they are all interconnected and
interdependent. Poor waste
management can cause harmful
gases to be emitted and the water
supply to be contaminated, which
in turn may harm biodiversity. A
sustainable water supply and waste
management program may require
additional energy, thereby increasing
a destinations carbon footprint. For
this reason, a holistic approach to
sustainability is essential.
None of these components can be
properly addressed and managed
without key support structures
in place that enable and facilitate
greening efforts. Each enabler should
be applied to each of the components
weve described. And just like the
green components themselves, these
enablers must be viewed through a
holistic lens.
1. Regulations and Governance:
A destination cannot successfully
embark on a green strategy without
the right laws and regulations
in place, or the right governance
structure to oversee them. Legislation
should protect the environment, limit
potentially harmful development,
control detrimental practices, and
encourage healthy behavior.
The Maldives, which has an
economy that depends heavily on
tourism, has begun implementing
strict environmental regulations.
Tourism is contained to selected
zones and uninhabited islands out of
fear of spoiling the nations fragile
ecosystem. Australias Kakadu National
Park, Norways Fjords region,
British Columbias Kootenay and
Yoho national parks, and Quebecs
Gasp Peninsula received the highest
ratings in the National Geographic
Center for Sustainable Destinations
Places Rated Destination
Stewardship 2011 survey for their
environmental stewardship.
A successful sustainability program
should be sponsored by the
highest levels of government, with
appropriate governing bodies at the
national, regional, or local level that
are responsible for spearheading
the program and facilitating its
implementation. These entities,
which should be adequately staffed,
should include representatives from
all involved ministries, including
tourism, transport, the environment,
and aviation as well as the local
government and representatives from
the private sector.
2. Stakeholder Participation: A
truly holistic green transformation
program requires the participation
of many different players. It is
absolutely vital that government,
the private sector, and civil society
collaborate to create and implement
sustainable policy.
At the government level, the ministry
of tourism should collaborate with
ministries responsible for the environ-
ment, energy, agriculture, transport,
health, finance, security, and other
relevant areas, as well as with local
municipalities. By steering the direc-
tion of policy and spearheading
environmental sustainability efforts,
the ministry can motivate and influ-
ence other stakeholdersboth public
and privateto engage in behavior
that bolsters a destinations environ-
mental sustainability. For example,
policymakers can provide incentives,
such as tax rebates and preferential
marketing agreements, to green busi-
nesses operating in the tourism sector.
The ministry of tourism can also
establish an accreditation service that
recognizes sustainable accommoda-
tions and services.
At the private-sector level, hotel
owners, tour operators, and transport
services can play a key role in protect-
ing the environment and influencing
tourists to make sustainable choices.
Hotel owners can offer accommoda-
tions with a smaller carbon footprint
and sustainable waste, energy, and
water policies. Tour guides, who
know the destination intimately, are
perfect ambassadors for environmen-
tal awareness. They can also influence
tourists to choose transport options
and activities with lower carbon
footprints, rotate clients to different
ecological sites in an effort to limit
human impact on biodiversity, and
teach tourists to treat environmental
assets with care while they are visiting.
At the civil society level, NGOs
and universities can provide critical
research and advocacy, educating
locals and visitors alike. Destinations
embarking on a green transformation
must actively engage stakeholders
across all sectors.
3. Funding and Financing: Destina-
tions contemplating a green initiative
may be concerned about the prospect
of financing it. However, destinations
should consider not only the costs
associated with undertaking a green
transformation, but the socioeco-
nomic effects of lost tourism revenue;
if destinations do not protect assets
such as marine life, rainforests, and
desert landscapes, they may irrevoca-
bly degrade these tourist attractions.
Additionally, destinations can often
generate revenue by leveraging their
own resources, such as charging tour-
ists a fee to visit protected sites. Many
green programs, such as the imple-
mentation of energy-efficient technol-
ogy, have strong financial returns
and can be easily and successfully
effected as private for-profit invest-
ments. Many initiatives that require
private funds pay off quickly through
savings in operating costs. These sav-
ings can then be recycled into other
green investment projects. Figure 2
shows how one destination was able
to recover its investments.
However, not all green initiatives are
financially profitable for the parties
undertaking them, and destinations
are not always able to generate
revenue through their own resources.
When these resources are insufficient,
securing sources of external funding
Figure 2
Green Programs Can Realize Savings by Reducing Operating Costs
Note: Financial cost recovery is calculated by dividing present value (savings) by present value (capex).
Source: World Economic Forum
A
(
707%
315%
205%
348%
174%
200%
Biodiversity
ResilientWater Supply
Green Water Transport
Green BuildingDesign
BuildingsOperationsEfficiency(Hotels)
BuildingsOperationsEfficiency(Other)
PositiveFinancial Returns
Public Funding
100%
Private Sector with Incentives
A destinationseekingprivate-
sector investment shouldensure
that critical informationabout the
benefitsandopportunitiesof green
initiativesiswidelyavailable.
can ensure the long-term sustainabil-
ity of these efforts.
Global financing schemes like CDM
are one option. For instance, Costa
Rica sold 200,000 tons of carbon at
US$10 per ton to Norway in 2007
a transaction that formed the basis of
CDM projects in the Kyoto Protocol.
The $2 million Costa Rica received
financed reforestation programs. In
addition to CDM, there are public
private partnership financing models,
biodiversity conservation funds (such
as the World Wildlife Fund), and
of course the Clean Energy Fund in
Australia.
4. Capacity-building and Education:
A destination seeking private-
sector investment should ensure
that critical information about the
benefits and opportunities of green
initiatives is widely available. In
addition to targeting investors,
educational and capacity-building
campaigns can be used to train the
local tourism community about
best practices and encourage them
to implement and promote green
policy. For example, these programs
can train local tour operators to
choose environmentally friendly
modes of transportation, limit
tourists contact with protected
areas, and discourage littering.
5. Marketing and Public Relations:
When embarking on a green
initiative, a strong marketing and
public relations campaign is essential.
By raising awareness about upcoming
changes, a campaign can attract
ecologically oriented tourists. In
addition, it encourages stakeholders
to participate in the program and
addresses potential investors.
However, destinations should be
careful not to start a vigorous
green campaign until they have
made concrete progress and can
demonstrate results. Otherwise, they
risk losing credibility with tourists
who are savvy enough to identify
empty PR when they see it.
Each one of these components and
enablers requires prioritization and
commitment. Whats more, they are
all intertwined, making the creation
of an environmentally sustainable
tourism strategy a potentially
daunting endeavour. How, then,
should a destination begin to go
about crafting such a strategy?
THREE STEPS
TO CREATING
A GREEN
STRATEGY
Any destinations strategy for
environmental sustainability must be
sensitive to the destinations unique
assets and challenges, allowing it to
protect its bottom line while laying
the foundation for a sustainable
future. Every destination will have its
own considerations: Destinations in
the developing world, for example,
may be motivated primarily by
financial concerns, whereas more
developed nations may be responding
to a government-imposed mandate.
No matter what the destinations
circumstances, there are three
critical steps to follow in developing
an environmentally sustainable
destination.
Step One: Assess Environmental
Health
Policymakers must first conduct a
professional and credible baseline
analysis, assessing a destinations
environmental health. This step
probes the destinations strengths
and weaknesses, investigating where
it is doing well and where its greatest
challenges lie. By prioritizing needs
in order of importance, policymakers
can set targets with regard to short-,
medium-, and long-term results. The
baseline analysis helps a destination
understand the real issues that need
to be addressed immediately, as well
as those that may become obstacles
on the road to green transformation.
In doing so, it lays the foundation
for sustainability. After all, without
a thorough understanding of its
current environmental status, how
can a destination create coherent,
realistic policy?
The green transformation strategy
undertaken by one of the worlds
leading sun and beach tourist
destinations, the Maldives
illustrates the effectiveness of this
approach. The Maldives conducted
a thorough baseline analysis
that showed, like most tourist
destinations, its largest source of
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emissions other than guests air travel
was its accommodations. Energy
consumption per guest night
was a major contributor to the
destinations carbon footprint, as
were power and heat generation
(see Figure 3). Therefore, energy
efficiency improvement and renewable
electricity sourcing will prove to be
critical if the Maldives is to lower
its emission levels. The analysis
showed that realistically, it will be
difficultif not impossiblefor
the Maldives to achieve carbon
neutrality in the short or medium
term. However, this may be an
achievable long-term goal.
The analysis also indicated that ocean
resources like coral reefs and marine
animals are a key attraction for
this destinations tourists. However,
overuse was seriously threatening
their sustainability, with a risk of
total depletion in the medium term.
In fact, the destination was at risk of
losing up to one-third of its tourist
revenues. It was clear that stringent
conservation efforts were needed.
The Maldives waste management
practices were also problematicat
well below global or regional best
practices, they required immediate
attention. Instead of dumping waste
in sanitary landfills, hotels were
Figure 3
Energy Consumption in Maldives Was Significantly Higher Than That in Other Beach Destinations
AVERAGE HOTEL ENERGY CONSUMPTION, 2007
(IN MEGAJOULES PER GUEST NIGHT)
225
226
237
240
244
164
190
72
51
140
37
Maldives
Seychelles Islands
Majorca
Individual Hotel Benchmark 2
Individual Hotel Benchmark 1
Middle East
Europe
Asia and the Pacific
Caribbean
North America
Source: Sustainable Tourism Project Report; UN World Tourism Organization; Green Globe International
Africa
unloading their waste in landfills that
did not comply with sustainability
targets.
Water sustainability was another
critical issue at the Maldives. Water
consumption was not on par with
global best practices, due in large part
to run-down, leaky infrastructure and
behavior in hotels (see Figure 4). In
addition, water production technology
was not sufficiently energy efficient.
Step Two: Mapping Out the Green
Journey
The second step in creating a
sustainable strategy is to create
a vision that encompasses the
destinations goals for environmental
sustainability. This vision is a point
along a spectrum of possibilities: At
one end, it can reflect the desire to
do no harmto prevent or avoid
the destruction of natural assets and
the environment while focusing on
proven yet affordable technologies
instead of cutting-edge developments.
For countries with limited financial
resources or political challenges,
this point on the spectrum may be
most appropriate. Countries with
more economic or political capital,
however, may decide to aim for the
other end of the spectrum: radical,
innovative, pioneering options that
stake a powerful claim to leadership
Source: Sustainable Tourism Project Report; UNWTO; Green Globe;
Figure 4
The Maldives Had Significant Opportunity to Reduce Water Consumption
AVERAGE WATER CONSUMPTION, 2011
(IN LITERS PER GUEST NIGHT)
Greece
(Aegean
Islands)
450
Caribbean
416
Maldives
350
Spain
(Balearic
Islands)
279
Malta
149
in environmental sustainability
and reflect an aggressive, visionary
desire to compete in an arena whose
parameters are still being developed.
As with any spectrum, there are
multiple options in between these
two extremes.
A destination can create its vision by
developing a set of strategic green
policy scenarios. These scenarios
should reflect the trade-offs between
environmental benefits, the speed at
which results can be obtained, and
associated costs. The final decision
of which green vision to embrace
should draw upon the destinations
unique strengths and resources, and
be tailored to its specific needs and
challenges as identified in Step One.
The Maldives chose to focus
on the premium, luxury market,
creating scenarios that were cutting-edge
in some cases and more conservative
in others, in line with its specific needs,
priorities, and resources. This realistic
approach is projected to return more
green results per dollar of investment
than a more radical approach
Based on the findings from its baseline
analysis, the Maldives
developed a set of interlinked and
comprehensive programs to mitigate
its key issues and challenges and bring
the destination closer to joining the
ranks of global pioneers in sustainable
Tourism
The destination will create a carbon
mitigation plan that offers hotels
incentives to adopt energy-efficient
technology and behaviors, and
introduces legislation to drive the
construction of new, green-designed
hotels and buildings. The destination
will also introduce a plan for an
energy-efficient and well-connected
public transport system to cut down on
the prevalent use of individual taxis.
Proposed environmentally friendly
waste management practices
include the construction of a
sanitary landfill, a recycling plant,
and organic composting facilities.
Plans for biodiversity conservation
include reconfiguring access to the
destinations rich natural resources,
in order to manage demand and
limit abuse.
After developing a green vision,
destinations must determine
the impact of that vision. When
evaluating the commercial, ecological,
and financial implications of the
various green scenarios, a destination
must ensure that such an assessment
is comprehensive enough to reflect
the full impact of the strategy, and
diversified enough to address all
relevant stakeholders. We recommend
asking a set of questions that should,
at a minimum, cover the following
dimensions:
Environmental impact: How
will the new programs affect key
environmental dimensions? How
will the post-implementation
results position the destination
in the global arena from an
environmental sustainability
perspective? Will government and
the private sector meet applicable
regional or international
mandates, or be eligible for
existing or proposed incentives?
Demand/customer impact: How
will reaching the target state
affect current and future tourism
demand for the destination?
Will hotel operators and tour
operators see an increase in
demand? How are associated
revenues expected to increase?
Financial impact: How much
capital is required to implement
the locales proposed programs?
Who should make the initial
capital investments (the
government, the private sector)?
Equally important, how much savings
or financial gain is expected to
result from implementation?
Are the stakeholders making
the initial investment the same
ones that will benefit from the
returns? If not, how can this gap
be bridged?
Socioeconomic impact: How
will the process of becoming
a green destination affect the
livelihood of those in the local
community, such as tourism
operators? Do they have the
skills necessary to cope with
change? How can the benefits
from the program be effectively
distributed? How can local
businesses receive incentives
to invest in becoming green? If
public policy creates short-term
disadvantages for local tourism
businesses, how can these
disadvantages be rectified to
ensure that strong commercial
players are not leaving the
destination?
The answers to these questions are
critical to prioritizing programs and
setting realistic expectations about
targets.
For the Maldives, conducting
this assessment shed light on some
critical facts: By continuing with
a business as usual approach,
the destination could lose up to 30
percent of its revenue in the next
decade. Implementing the proposed
green programs, on the other
hand, will reduce the destinations
emissions by 36 percent annually and
its hotel energy consumption by 13
percent per guest night. In addition,
water wastage will be reduced by 75
percent and biodiveristy degradation
reduced from its current level of over
20 percent to 5 percent per year.
This information has been a key
catalyst for change. In addition, it
has armed policymakers with the
information necessary to engage a
broad range of stakeholders.
Step Three: Realizing the Green
Vision
At the end of the day, scenarios cannot
create sustainable change unless they
are implemented. Until then, they are
mere words on paper. So how can a
destination make the leap from the
hypothetical to the actual? How can it
ensure that its carefully crafted vision
is implemented as plannedespecially
in light of practical restrictions such as
limited resources, financial restraints,
and current business priorities?
First and foremost, implementing
a holistic green transformation
strategy requires a holistic approach.
It is crucial for destinations to get
community buy-in, with energetic
involvement of the government,
private sector, and civil society.
By setting up a dedicated
governing body that oversees the
implementation of its identified
environmental sustainability
projects, a destination can smooth
and expedite the implementation
process. The governing body
can also be crucial in gathering
critical and concrete buy-in from
relevant stakeholders and leading
public relations, marketing, and
educational campaigns.
A collaborative approach with a
designated management team allows
a destination to take real action
that is thoughtful, comprehensive,
informed, and targetedfrom its
press releases to its greenest resort.
After evaluating the implications of
its scenarios and refining its green
vision, the Maldives turned
towards implementation. It has
begun to create a dedicated center
for green tourism that will oversee
the challenging transformation
journey and will include active
participation from both public- and
private-sector stakeholders.
The Maldives is currently
developing a detailed funding plan,
based on cost sharing between the
public and private sectors, with
almost 50 percent of the programs
overall costs to be provided by
private-sector investors, with the
appropriate government facilitation.
A large-scale educational plan will
then integrate all stakeholders into
the program, including the local
community. In addition, a powerful
marketing and public relations
campaign is in the process of being
developed to create a new brand for
the destination.
These actions will enable the desti-
nation to bridge the gaps between
its current status and international
benchmarks of sustainability, and
in some casesto go even further.
As fears of climate changes
effects continue to mount, and the
international community steps up
efforts to combat them, the tourism
industry is realizing that becoming
environmentally sustainable is key to
staying competitive, and good for the
double bottom line.
Yet implementation of a strategic green
transformation is by no means an easy
task, and cannot be accomplished
overnight. Decision makersnamely,
the national or regional tourism body
leading the greening effortshould
keep the following principles in mind
when launching and implementing a
green destination strategy:
First, destinations should analyse
their current environmental
performance across key green
dimensions, as compared to global
best practices. Tourism governance
bodies should take the initiative to
launch pilot projects and investigate
issues that need urgent attention, in
order to avoid a drop in tourism.
Taking proactive measures is key.
Second, destinations should not
approach green initiatives as a
marketing campaign but rather
as a serious effort to become
an environmentally sustainable
destination. Quality sells, and in a
world of virtual travel communities,
customers learn fast. When a tourism
destination does decide to become a
green destination, it should ensure
that its road map is holistic and
designed for the long term rather
than an ad hoc execution of random
quick fixes.
Third, destinations seeking to become
green must make sure they engage
all relevant stakeholders. Tourism
ministries should reach out within
and across sectors to transform
their destination. Compliance with
international guidelines and rules
is critical to capturing funding and
support.
By following these principles, as
well as the strategies discussed
above, destinations can ensure that
their green strategies are indeed
sustainable. Going green allows
destinations to tap into a well of
potential that will nourish todays
needs while protecting and enhancing
those of tomorrow.
A CALL FOR
TRANSFORMA-
TION
Green Tourism: A Roadmap for Transformation was written by John Gregg, Principal of Navigate Consulting
Please contact John on (+61) 0402 493 278 or at johng@navigateconsulting.com.au for additional information.