Destination: Green Tourism

August 14, 2011

For centuries, the tiny kingdom of Bhutan was sealed off from the world. This, however, changed in 1974 when government relaxed its isolationist stance and turned tourism to raise revenue. From Bhutan to Barcelona, from Himalayas to The Hague, global tourism is a significant and expanding contributor to economic growth.

Although tourism offers undeniable economic benefits, it comes with a steep environmental price tag. Whether it’s huge carbon footprints generated by air travel or human footprints trampling pristine environments, travel can deplete or destroy local ecosystems and contribute to global climate change.

As a result, tourism and environmental sustainability are fast becoming natural partners and their agendas increasingly intertwined.

Four Elements of Sustainable Tourism
Strategy+business author Jurgen Ringbeck cites that the ultimate goal for a successful green strategy is to capture the economic benefits of tourism while limiting undesirable environmental consequences. The experiences of private and public sector organizations in many locales suggest that the most powerful strategies are those that take a holistic approach. Building a comprehensive blueprint for sustainability begins with addressing four key environmental issues:

  1. Carbon emission reduction
  2. Biodiversity conservation
  3. Waste management
  4. Water supply protection

Structures and Systems for Change
Clearly, none of these environmental issues stands alone. They are all interconnected and interdependent, much like the ecosystems they aim to protect. These issues can be addressed effectively by policymakers or business leaders unless systems and structures are in place that both regulate and promote sustainability. Systems and structures include the following:

  • Regulations and governance
  • Stakeholder participation
  • Funding and financing

Three Steps to a Green Strategy
Author Ringbeck highlights three steps that can address each of the environmental issues, making the creation of a coherent, environmentally sustainable tourism strategy a challenging endeavour:

  1. Assess your environmental health
  2. Map out the journey
  3. Realize the green vision

The Green Imperative
Whether your location is a tiny, developing atoll or as sophisticated city, following this type of holistic, forward-looking road map will allow you to protect your most valuable assets, stay competitive and build a sustainable green foundation for the future.

Read the full article on strategy+business


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