Environmental concern is one of the major topics under discussion throughout the world due to its detrimental impact which is inevitable given the way in which resources are used and the environment polluted. Going green is a concept adopted by several businesses around the world. Some of these businesses are honestly concerned about the environment whereas others have adopted it as a marketing ploy to make profits. Thus, it is hard to say whether or not green tourism is a marketing ploy but if undertaken morally and ethically then it should not be the case (Kandari & Chandra, 2004).
The tourism industry has been under scrutiny for damaging the environment. Hotels and resorts are being constructed in beautiful landscapes in order to attract customers. Moreover, they undertake green tourism marketing campaigns in order to justify themselves (Weeden, 2002). Is green tourism, then a marketing ploy? In order to answer this question we need to know what green tourism is and what impact it has on the environment (http://www. helium. com/items/1115642-green-marketing). What Is Green Tourism?
Green tourism is all about the provision of environmentally friendly tourism services of all kinds ranging from leisure, business and recreational tourism services. Green tourism has also been termed as eco-tourism and sustainable tourism. Each of the terms revolves around the same cause i. e. low impact and environmentally friendly tourism. Green tourism is also being an environmentally friendly tourist itself for e. g. taking a leisure trip to a beautiful resort but also, in the processes, have the lowest impact on the environment where you are headed.
Generally then; green tourism states that we should not only protect and preserve the place in which we live but also the places where we travel. Should Green Tourism Be Promoted? Whether or not green tourism is a marketing ploy or not is a question we will answer later but firstly we need to know whether or not green tourism should be promoted or not. The environmental impact of businesses around the world has now become a grave source of concern.
As the world realized that most of the important natural resources are limited in supply, steps are being taken to help prevent environmental damage and to use the sacred natural resources in the most efficient and effective manner. The tourism industry has been at the center stage of the debate. Let us discuss the various impacts that tourism has on the environment and there effects. Tourism’s Impact on the Environment The environment has a certain limit to the number of visitors it can handle for e. g.
rainforest is able to maintain the ecological balance with a few resorts and tourists but if the rainforest gets plagued with resorts, hotels and tourists, the ecological balance will be disturbed and threatened. Tourism has three major impacts on the environment i. e. the depletion of natural resources, pollution and physical impacts (Jones & Munday, 2007). Firstly, natural resources such as water for e. g. are overused by hotels and resorts. In fact tourists tend to use more water at a holiday then they do at home.
Golf courses require immense amount of water and contribute to the depletion of water resources. Tourism also puts great stress on local energy, raw material and water resources for a country (Woodside, 2009). By far, land degradation is the most crucial impact of tourism on natural resources. Scenic landscapes and important resources such as minerals, wildlife etc are often destroyed through the construction of tourism facilities such as recreational centers, hotels and resorts. Secondly, tourism also contributes to pollution, especially in environments where pollution can cause much harm for e.
g. wildlife reserves in Africa, rainforests in South America, beach resorts in Maldives etc. Pollution caused by tourism comes in the form of emissions, noise, sewerage, waste disposal and littering. Moreover, aesthetic pollution is also a major concern, mostly, tourism structures fail to integrate themselves within the natural landscape and result in the destruction of the scenic beauty. Lastly, tourism also contributes immensely to the physical destruction of the environment. An ecosystem is a structure of living organisms, their physical surroundings and the natural cycles that sustain them.
Everything is in perfect harmony but this harmony is often disrupted through tourism. The construction of resorts and hotels calls for land paving, sand mining, terrain restructuring etc. this causes land erosion and loss of wildlife habitats and ecosystems themselves. Deforestation is another very destructive physical impact that tourism has on the environment (Yeoman & Beattie, 2006). Given the immense environmental impact of tourism it is imperative that action be taken to help resolve the problem.
Financial assistance in the form of environmental aid, improved environmental management and planning, environmental awareness raising, protection and preservation and various regulatory measures are essential for environment sustainability (Grubler, 2006). One form of achieving all this is ‘green tourism’ in itself. In several European countries, green tourism is promoted and also sponsored by governments themselves. This reflects the fact that several governments are also promoting the marketing of green tourisms.
The aim should be to target responsible citizens who would choose green organizations i. e. organizations that are environmentally friendly to purchase goods and services. The Ashdene House and Radisson SAS Hotel: Case Studies To get a better understanding about why organizations and businesses, whether small or large, engage in green tourism we will analyze two case studies from Europe, The Ashdene House, a five room guest house in the south of Edinburgh and the Radisson SAS Hotel in Glasgow, Scotland. Case 1: Ashdene House
The Ashdene House is a five bedroom guest house on the south of Edinburgh. It was rewarded the Gold Award by the Green Tourism Business Scheme in 1998 for its dedication towards environmental sustenance. The guest house has worked towards energy and waste management in an eco-friendly manner. They considered the fact that less energy use will lead to less environmental damage and consequently reduction in global warming. Waste recycling is actively pursued with waste being sorted into cardboard, glass, plastic and food.
Moreover, energy saving devices and appliances are used to ensure that minimum energy is wasted. Moreover, the guest house also encourages guests to be environmentally friendly by using public transport or walking to the Edinburgh center. To promote biodiversity of the local ecosystem, it has installed bird feeds and water equipment. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Daulby are the masterminds behind this green initiative. They also use recycled material such as recycled toilet paper and consume organic products.
The Daulby’s have made available an environmental pamphlet to keep the guests engaged in environmental protection. The pamphlet requests visitors to sort their rubbish in such a manner that recyclable material is put separately, the pamphlet encourages the use of public transport or walking instead of driving and lastly and most importantly it tells visitors that environmentally friendly activities must not only be engaged in when on holiday but also at home. Case 2: Radisson SAS Hotel The Radisson SAS Hotel in Glasgow takes the environment very seriously.
In 2001, it announced a Responsible Business Program which emphasized upon reducing the negative impact of the business on the natural environment. The hotel opened up in Glasgow in 2002 with 247 guest bedrooms. The building design was built in such an architectural manner that it integrated well with the traditional and modern architecture of Glasgow city itself. Soon after inauguration, the hotel in 2003 was awarded the Gold Award for the Green Tourism Business Scheme. The hotel has been a lead player in environmental sustainability. Water, gas, electricity and waste are managed effectively and efficiently.
The hotel is given a sustainability target based on resource usage by the head office and mostly it aims to exceed the expectations of the head office by conserving more energy and utilizing fewer resources. All the lighting, air conditioning and electrical appliances of the hotel are controlled through a computer unit. Whenever they are not in use the computer automatically shuts them off to save energy. The hotel also engages in the recycling of glass, paper and cardboard. A pamphlet in all hotel rooms enlightens guests regarding the Responsible Business Program undertaken by the hotel.
The hotel markets its environmental efforts actively in Hotelier magazines, their website and various sponsored events. The hotel believes that the green initiative also gives the hotel an advantage, especially with German and Scandinavian visitors. They believe that companies which are certified with the ISO 14001 environmental standards would choose a ‘green’ hotel over one that did not pay attention to the environment. One thing to note here is that the ‘green’ initiative undertaken by Radisson SAS is not a marketing ploy but it is present throughout the organization, at all levels right down till the ground level.
Green Tourism: A Marketing Ploy or Strategy? We understand that their can be two reasons for green tourism. Firstly, that an organization is sincerely concerned about the environment and has always been committed to go green or secondly, the organization is following the markets’ trends and faking the whole going green concept. This is also termed as ‘greenwashing’ where organizations advertise products as eco-friendly where in fact they are not. It is obvious that most of the company’s pursue the ‘go green’ concept for the profits that arise out of it. At times, companies have to point out the positive aspects of their products.
We can say that this is intelligent marketing because given the economic recession and the global environmental crisis, and organizations will do what it takes to do, even if it is green tourism marketing, in order to keep minting money (Becken, 2005). Companies are in the business for making money; they will do whatever the customers want. The cases discussed above are examples of situations otherwise. Ashdene House and Radisson SAS were sincerely concerned with the environmental impact of their activities. So should be the case given the severe impact of tourism on the environment as discussed earlier.
Companies are now in the race of green marketing, using fancy words such as all-organic, pure natural etc to allure customers. It is true that most of the companies are not actually going green but yet again, as the cases presented prove, there are some companies that are genuinely going green with no strings attached and they are sincerely concerned about the environment. Green tourism marketing has the same scenario; many hotels and resorts boast their environmental concern but have little or no prove to support their claims (Mowforth & Munt, 2008).
Trade commissions and authorities around the world have made green marketing guidelines stricter so that companies don’t use it as a marketing gimmick. The issue of marketing myopia arises when organizations design products and services which are environmentally friendly, educate customers regarding the environmental efforts and the reasons for their marketing and lastly but most importantly ensure the credibility of the product claims and refrain from making false claims (d’Amore, 1993).
Conclusion To conclude, we can say that green marketing or the marketing of products that are environmentally safe has been both a ploy for numerous companies whereas for others it is an honest effort to promote environmental awareness and minimize the impact of their operations on the environment. It is hard to tell whether or not a company is actually concerned about the environment or whether it has undertaken the effort to increase revenue and eventually profits.
However, stricter rules and regulations and the important roles played by the International Standard Organization through their ISO 14000 certification are granting companies the environmentally friendly status. At the end of the day, even if a company is ISO 14000 certified, we will never find out whether it markets its certification for increased revenue or if it is actually proud of its success. References Becken S. (2005). The role of tourist icons for sustainable tourism, Journal of Vancation Marketing, Vol 11, 21 – 30. d’Amore L. J. (1993).
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