ECOTOURISM AND SUSTAINABLE TOURISM: TRENDS
Ecotourism is an alternative form of tourism and one of the most important hospitality trends that can benefit the environment as well as the profitability of hotels. The basic intention of this type of tourism is to raise awareness amongst travellers about the natural setting or place that they visit, respect the culture of local communities and at the same time minimize any negative effects on the environment by the tourist activity.
The idea of Ecotourism was raised and evolved during the 80s where the necessity for environmental care became more imperative, in order to protect the natural habitat from human intervention for the future generations. The characteristics of Ecotourism, concern mainly destinations where the cultural and environmental heritage are in abundance, in certain parts of our planet. The increasing demand for alternative types of tourism, such as Ecotourism, Agrotourism (or Agritourism) and Responsible Tourism, make countries like Greece, more popular as destinations.
Below you may find some very interesting data and facts about Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism globally:
- According to GlobalData’s Q4-2016 consumer survey, 35% globally are interested to book eco-tourism holidays. This rate grows to 57%, when talking about Americans with a household income that exceeds $150.000 per annum. So, the household income is directly proportional with the interest of eco-tourism holidays.
- 96% of Condé Nast Traveler readers think hotels and resorts should be responsible for protecting the environment they operate in. Also, the most travellers are willing to pay more money for an eco-friendly accommodation.
- According to Responsible Travel, there’s a constantly rising need from consumers for Ecotourism. 74.5% says that a hotel’s environmental policies can influence their decision to stay there, as nowadays the tourists are more likely to support businesses that respect the environment.
- 46% of the German’s think ‘it is an added value to stay in an environmentally friendly accommodation.
- 80% of the Dutch want information on ethical issues in their travel information.
Another trend that is evolving in hospitality is “Luxury Ecotourism” or “Luxury Eco Accommodation”, referring to eco-certified hotels offering 5-star accommodation. Eagles Palace in Halkidiki, Costa Navarino in Messinia and Melian Hotel in Milos are great examples of this trend.
Based on the indisputable figures above, a third-party observer can realize that travelers believe that within the hotel’s responsibility should be considered the active protection of the environment, the cultural sensitivity and the support of local communities. It is essential for the hospitality industry to embrace this rapidly growing type of tourism, and incorporate within its philosophy all the vital concepts of ecotourism. By embracing the core elements of Ecotourism, then the hotels (that are integral part of the hospitality industry), will see a significant growth on their profits. The hotels by implementing the 3 basic core components (of Ecotourism), conservation, communities and education will manage to become the pole of attraction the environmental-friendly (and sensitive) travelers. One of the most important trends that the hotel industry should realize, is the fact that Ecotourism is not addressing only to small businesses but also to larger businesses which can commercially offer this product (by respecting and conserving at the same time the natural habitat). The hospitality industry should combine the not only theoretically but also practically the concept of ecotourism with sustainable tourism. According to Zoe Chafe (2005), “sustainable tourism is the form of tourism that meets the needs of present tourist and host regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities for future’’.
The key points in which the hospitality industry must focus on, are the below:
- Protection of cultural heritage; in this way the natural heritage adds value to the cultural heritage. This mix of products creates the ideal framework for the hotels in order to become the pole of attraction for travelers.
- Promotion of local culture and tradition by providing guests with useful information, tips and trips.
- Provision of incentives for the reconstruction of cultural heritage monuments and the preservation of the natural environment, since the concept of volunteering and offer to the community is quite developed amongst travelers.
- Promotion of authentic souvenirs; the hospitality industry could promote local, authentic souvenirs made by locals.
- Co-operation with the public sector in order to ensure that the hotels keep the high standards that they have set for their travelers.
Most hotels seek titles to promote their eco-friendly character and become ‘’eco-labelled’’. Other ways for a hotel to promote its eco consciousness are the TripAdvisor GreenLeaders, the Blue Flag and the Green Key. Check out the current trends in sustainable tourism that hoteliers should adopt in order to make their hotels environmentally friendly and get badged by these organizations:
- Say no to chemical cleaning products
- Start buying recycled toilet paper, LED lights and local made furniture
- Use only solar power electricity and photocell faucets to minimize the energy and water waste
- Provide bicycles to your customers and promote the green transportation
These actions underline some of the main principles of ecotourism and are a very good starting point to open your perspectives to responsible hospitality and consequently to responsible tourism and put you on the map of the proposed eco-friendly destinations of Greece. By taking into consideration the aforementioned figures, facts and emerging trends in Ecotourism and sustainable tourism, the Hospitality Industry can achieve maximum profits and occupancy.
Ecotourism and Sustainable Development have become a significant contributor to tourism revenues attracting the interest of both travellers and other segments associated with the travel industry.
At Mozaik Hospitality we draw upon our deep knowledge and expertise to consult and promote eco-friendly hotels while ensuring their sustainability.