What shade of green would you like your tourism?


I guess we are all looking for a better, greener, world. One in which we can all have useful fulfilling jobs. One in which we respect and steward our environment, learn from our culture and enjoy our social interactions. Right?

As many people know, tourism can be a major driver to fulfil those aspirations. It can bring quality employment and training directed at those groups who need it most – currently, possibly the around 40%+ youth unemployment in many countries.

Tourism can bring economic success to those places that need it most. It can be used to focus on and help us respect our environment, mitigate our emissions and enhance, rather than destroy, our biodiversity.

Properly focused, tourism can help us to steward, interpret and showcase our many and varied cultures, history and built environment.

And tourism can break down social barriers – globally, allowing us to engage with other cultures and peoples and hasten the drive towards peace.

All high aspirations, what’s stopping us?

Getting the tourism industry to focus us on moving towards a green economy actually needs paid-up committed members.

Those people who put their businesses on the line and sign up to a course of action that will be better for everybody today and in the future.

Actually that’s what green tourism certification is about. It’s not just a benefit for the businesses that are certified and their customers – it’s of benefit to everybody.

But there are two things missing – numbers and credibility.

The numbers of participants will come, eventually but in the UK for instance they are still low – maximum 10% of the tourism business.

One thing that is stopping growth is the second requirement – credibility…

Unless claims are credible, enthusiasm is lost, customers don’t commit and the whole thing falls into a deep hole.

What a pity, what a missed opportunity.

I’m in Italy at the moment looking around me recognizing the fantastic opportunity for this country to get its problems behind it and get on the growth track through tourism. What a shame if it was missed. Here young people need employment, training and above all pride – all can come from tourism.

Actually, all can come from tourism that is beneficial – in other words green.

A credible green tourism industry could change the country – no less.

Not hollow claims, not spurious advertising, not green commodity tourism.

And this could happen all over the world.

But only if we have strong tourism certification and an industry with cohesive aims.

In other words not Greenwash but the REAL thing.

That is just one of the reasons www.totemtourism.com is writing and will shortly publish the Greenwash report.




  1. Regarding tourism certification, I will be asking friends their thoughts about what works and what doesn’t during Wednesday’s Google+ Hangout: Travel Labels and Certification at 9am CDT. Join us if you’d like! https://plus.google.com/events/cb3uddqgf05eu4nn242ntlfnkfs?authkey=CLSo1cHWluKhvgE

  2. Italy does have an green tourism certification standard, Legambiente Turismo, which has been awarded to more than 400 accommodations including agritourism sites, restaurants, boat operators, beaches, natural parks, and tourist attractions that have raised awareness about running sustainable tourism operations as well as reducing the environmental impacts of tourism.
    Europe as a whole is replete with eco-labels as is South America, Africa, etc. I think that the sheer numbers of labels (some of which are just rubber stamps) is part of the problem with regard to ‘numbers and credibility’. Another part of the problem is that there is presently no hard data behind the claims that ‘green is good for business’. Therefore, for my part, I’ve developed an ROI model for Sustainability that delineates the investments, savings, and incremental revenue a tourism business will experience over a 5-year period. The goal is to collect regional and worldwide benchmarking data so that green is understood by businesses and customers alike.

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